Stopping the slow killers: research coalition tackles non-communicable diseases

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(Image by Michael S. Helfenbein)

A coalition of U.S. universities, including Yale, has joined forces to convene a national network of investigators whose research focuses on global non-communicable diseases (NCD) in low- and middle-income countries.

The coalition will focus on major NCDs including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Together, these chronic illnesses account for more than 36 million deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. Eighty percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The new coalition — the U.S. Investigators’ Network Symposium on Global Non-communicable Diseases Research — held an inaugural meeting last week in Atlanta, Georgia, which focused on the benefits of global NCD research, career opportunities, and funding sources. Yale diabetes researcher Kasia Lipska, M.D., helped to organize the conference, where she and several other Yale junior faculty members showcased their work.

“NCDs are exploding around the globe, yet U.S. involvement in global NCD research is just starting — we need to do more,” said Lipska, assistant professor of endocrinology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale. “In addition, U.S. investment in global health research provides double bang for the buck by benefiting U.S. taxpayers and patients, fostering goodwill and relationships abroad.” 

Tackling the global burden of NCDs is one of the great health challenges of our time, according to Lipska’s colleague, Dr. Jeremy Schwartz, assistant professor of internal medicine at Yale, who focuses on integrating NCD management in Uganda.

From left, Kasia Lipska, Evelyn Hsieh (instructor, rheumatology), Jeremy Schwartz (assistant professor, general internal medicine), Sandeep Kishore (intern, traditional internal medicine residency program), Justin List (2013 graduate of the Yale Primary Care Program), Christine Ngaruiya (fellow in global health, emergency medicine).

“More and more junior investigators are finding their passion in this cause,” said Schwartz. “One of the most important aspects of this new network is that it is bringing together junior faculty from across the country to foster collaboration around NCDs.”

Other Yale faculty members at the symposium included Dr. Evelyn Hsieh, instructor, rheumatology; Dr. Sandeep Kishore, intern, Traditional Internal Medicine Residency Program, and founder of the global grassroots Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network; Dr. Justin List, a 2013 graduate of the Yale Primary Care Program and current Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow at the University of Michigan; and Dr. Christine Ngaruiya, emergency medicine fellow in global health.

(Graphic via Shutterstock)

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