The University of Washington Global Innovation Fund provides support for programs and initiatives that enhance the university’s global engagement through research partnerships, study abroad programs, faculty exchanges, and more. The fund, administered by the Department of Global Affairs, focuses on interdisciplinary and cross-college collaboration in their projects.
Seven faculty members from the Department of Global Health have received awards from the Global Innovation Fund for projects that will create global impact in Kenya, Nepal, Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
Michalina Montaño – Post-Doctoral Fellow, Global Health: Defining the burden of undiagnosed and untreated HIV in cancer patients in 3 countries
In collaboration with UW Medicine, Montaño will conduct a project in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to explore the impact of antiretroviral therapy (ART), an understudied topic in sub-Saharan Africa. Current protocol typically recommends “test-and-treat”, or initiating ART immediately after an HIV diagnosis, which fails to account for the special considerations needed when co-morbidities are present at the time of diagnosis.
Montaño’s project seeks to determine whether the burden of untreated HIV among cancer patients is declining, while also exploring the systematic barriers that are preventing people from getting concurrent cancer and HIV treatment. After administering in-depth interviews and structured questionnaires, the collected data will be used with local collaborators to design and implement future trials of ART initiation among people living with HIV and cancer.
Kristie Ebi and Jeremy Hess – Professor and Associate Professor, Global Health: Effectively managing the impact of increasing ambient temperatures on health outcomes in Kenya using trans-disciplinary approaches
Due to climate change, heat waves are not only more prevalent and powerful than ever before, but are also hitting low- and middle-income countries in Africa especially hard. With temperature increases showing no signs of slowing down, places like rural Kenya are in danger of experiencing life-threatening heat.
Ebi and Hess are both investigating the health risks associated with heat waves and identifying ways to prevent these risks from causing any deaths. This award will support a project with researchers at Aga Khan University in Kenya and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Ebi, Hess, and the team will work in partnership with the local health departments, healthcare workers, and community leaders outside of Mombasa.
This fall, Ebi and Hess hope to create an international workshop to discuss their results, future solutions, and publish a final study on their findings.
Aliza Monroe-Wise – Acting Assistant Professor, Global Health: Antimicrobial Stewardship Training for Kenyan Clinicians and Pharmacists
Based in Kenya, this project will create a multidisciplinary task force to gather, review, and disseminate information on antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). Antimicrobial resistance is a burgeoning concern across the globe, with major implications on both individual health care and public health as a broader field. With a small amount of healthcare providers conducting appropriate training on antibiotic use, the University of Washington and Aga Khan University Hospital in Pakistan have created didactic courses on the subject.
This task force plans to meet quarterly to review existing curricula from UW and Aga Khan University, then design and deliver an e-learning course specific to the Kenyan context. The major outcomes of this project are to reduce the number of antimicrobial prescriptions written and increase provider knowledge of AMS.
Joshua T. Herbeck – Assistant Professor, Global Health: OmniVerse: A flexible database for tracking data and samples from the bedside, to the bench, to bioinformatics
With this project, Herbeck will extend ViroVerse into a new, general purpose, open-source database called OmniVerse. Currently, ViroVerse is a platform that collects, stores, retrieves, and analyzes data in HIV research. With OmniVerse, not only will more types of data become available for collection, but the data will also be more amenable to a broader range of studies on infectious diseases.
Computer scientists, bioinformaticians, colleagues from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, and scientists from collaborating Kenyan laboratories will all be involved in this project. OmniVerse’s new functionalities will include:
- upgrades to make the database fully compatible for next generation sequencing methods, including Illumina, PacBio, and Oxford Nanopore technologies
- features to store downstream analyses (i.e. finalized sequence alignments and phylogenetic trees)
- links to public databases, e.g. Genbank and the Sequence Read Archive (SRA)
Charles Mock and Katie Nielsen – Professor and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Global Health: Cookstove-Related BURN Injury Investigations in Nepal and Ghana (BURNING)
Cooking-related pollution and fires are the cause of over four million deaths each year. The simple act of improving cookstoves can save lives, prevent disability, mitigate deforestation, and promote social and gender equity.
Along with the Colleges of Medicine and Engineering, as well as Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, and burn centers in Ghana and Nepal, this collaboration will coordinate research and post-doctoral training to reduce stove-related injuries. A goal of this project is to organize a community advisory board in both Nepal and Ghana to draft surveys for burn-related patients and/or their family, and also to perform in-home investigations that identify the causes of these injuries. Everything from the stove itself, to the patients and caregivers, to household risk factors will be taken into account before a root cause analysis is performed on each incident.