Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chronic Diseases Worldwide

“Chronic diseases affect everyone, everywhere,” says Dr. Roger I. Glass, Director of NIH’s Fogarty International Center. The Center is partnering with NIH institutes and others to apply knowledge about cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and diabetes to help in low and middle income countries.

In June, the Fogarty became a founding member of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) to collaborate with national health agencies in some of the biggest countries in the world. The GACD comprises the six world agencies that supply about 80 percent of all public research funding in the world.

The Alliance is represented by National Heart Lung Blood Institute, Fogarty Center, Australia’s National Health Medical Research Council, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and China’s Ministry of Health in association with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the Indian Council of Medical Research, and the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council. Other funders including philanthropies will be invited to join in the future and the GACD will consider the WHO 2008-2013 action plan for setting priorities to combat chronic diseases.

The Global Alliance’s priorities are to do large-scale international clinical trials of drugs for preventing heart disease, perform public health measures to control obesity, and develop control measures for chronic obstructive airways disease.

Glass explains. “To make real progress it is going to take international collaboration to prevent and treat diseases in developing countries while at the same time, we need to learn how others are addressing the diseases that we have at home.”

The Center is also making initial grants in its “Millennium Promise Awards” program to train researchers in chronic diseases. The funding for the first awards made in the program will study chronic diseases and will train researchers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Seven awards totaling $7.3 million over five years will enable local scientists and institutions to develop long term training programs to deal with the looming crises in the development of chronic diseases. In addition, two planning grants will provide $108.000 for two years.

Each project will be a partnership between U.S universities and with institutions in the countries where training occurs. The U.S. universities include Vanderbilt University, Yale University, University of Texas Health Sciences Center San Antonio, University of Pittsburgh, Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York, University of Michigan, and Emory University.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) commissioned an Institute of Medicine report on cardiovascular disease in developing countries. Also, to deal with worldwide chronic diseases, the NHLBI has just awarded contracts worth more than $34 million to set up chronic diseases training networks in nine countries to be led by a research institution and paired with an academic institution in the country.

NHLBI will fund centers in Bangladesh, China, Guatemala, India, and South Africa with three additional centers in Argentina, Kenya, and Peru. United Health Group’s Chronic Disease Initiative supports the centers and two centers at the U.S. Mexico border and in Tunisia. The centers will do research tailored to the local or regional needs to reduce the burden of chronic diseases including heart disease, heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and COPD. Related risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and environmental exposures that contribute to COPD will also be emphasized.

“By developing infrastructures for research and training, the centers will apply their considerable expertise to enhance local capacity to conduct population-based or clinical research to monitor, prevent, or control chronic cardiovascular and lung diseases,”, said Dr. Cristina Rabadan-Diehl, Director for the NHLBI program.