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University of Iowa News Release


June 30, 2010

UI receives $1.1 million to train public health researchers from Romania

Investigators in the University of Iowa College of Public Health have been awarded $1.1 million by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health to train Romanian researchers in the prevention and management of non-communicable chronic diseases, such as cancer, cerebrovascular diseases, lung disease, obesity, and environmental and lifestyle factors.

Romania, a central European nation with a population of 22 million, has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a region that is "the worst afflicted by non-communicable chronic diseases." Non-communicable chronic diseases currently account for nearly 90 percent of all deaths in Romania.

"Although significant expertise exists in Romania regarding the clinical management of chronic diseases, research expertise is almost totally lacking in regard to population-based studies, prevention strategies and public health interventions," according to Thomas Cook, UI professor of occupational and environmental health, who will direct the new training program. Cook also is director of the Center for International Rural and Environmental Health based in the UI College of Public Health.

Globally, 80 percent of chronic disease deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and their impact is steadily growing and affecting more and more people, families and communities, according to the WHO. This growing threat is under-recognized, insufficiently researched and under-addressed, mostly because of limited local capacity in terms of resources and knowledge, Cook said.

The new training program will cover a broad range of research areas including genetics, epidemiology, clinical research and implementation science. UI faculty from the College of Public Health and the Carver College of Medicine will be involved.

Over a five-year period, this project will support early- and mid-career scientists and health professionals from Romania for various lengths of training at the UI, including extensive use of Internet-based web-conferencing. Following their training, returning public health scholars will conduct a series of joint workshops in Romania.

"The design of this program is based on experiences conducting other research training programs in the region since 1995, and on a network of well-established collaborators," Cook said.

The primary collaborating Romanian institution for this program is the Center for Health Policy and Public Health at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, along with a number of other affiliated institutions in Romania.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACT: Hannah Fletcher, 319-384-4277, Writer: Dan McMillan.