Africa: U.S. Expands Health Research Partnerships in Africa

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Washington — The United States is expanding its partnership with African institutions and scientists for research into some of the most vexing health problems plaguing the continent and world.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) October 18 announced 10 new grants totaling up to $17 million over the next four years. The new awards include funding for two collaborative centers, one that will study the risk factors for stroke and another that will study the role of the human vaginal microbiome in cervical cancer.

New individual research projects will study several other health conditions important in Africa, including neurological disorders, respiratory diseases, fevers of unknown origin, tuberculosis and African sleeping sickness, NIH said.

The new funding will also support two new centers for collaborative research with African scientists.

The African Collaborative Center for Microbiome and Genomics Research at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria, will receive up to $4.16 million over four years. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Africa, NIH said. This grant will focus on the epidemiology of cervical cancer and human papillomavirus infection. "It addresses a high-impact public health challenge that affects women's health in Africa and the rest of the world," NIH said.

In addition to research, this center will provide postdoctoral training for qualified candidates from across Africa in research methods, epidemiology, bioinformatics, data management and laboratory methods.

The grant also includes study of and training in social and behavioral research, which will be conducted through the Institute of Human Virology and the African University of Science and Technology, both in Nigeria, and the Center for Infectious Diseases Research in Zambia.

The other collaborative research center, the Stroke Investigative Research & Educational Network at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, will receive up to $2.37 million over four years.

Stroke is the leading cause of neurological hospital admissions in Africa and a leading cause of deaths on the continent, NIH said. Researchers at this center will evaluate the genetic and environmental risk factors for stroke in Africa, along with training professionals and building research capacity.

A listing of individual and other projects supported by the latest round of funding is available on the NIH website.

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