January 8, 2010

Grant gives boost to informatics training partnership in India

Grant gives boost to informatics training partnership in India

Vanderbilt has been awarded a grant to support a new informatics training partnership with two leading research institutions in India, the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in Pune and the National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) in Chennai.

The five-year, $1.1 million grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health will be directed by Cynthia Gadd, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Educational Programs in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, along with Vikrant Sahasrabuddhe, M.B.B.S., Dr.P.H., assistant professor of Pediatrics and director of the Vanderbilt-India Program at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH).

“We are partnered with organizations in India that are part of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Indian equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes of Health,” Gadd said. “A substantial volume of extramurally funded biomedical research is ongoing at these institutions conducted by highly trained scientists. Yet gaps remain in the ability of scientists and physicians to manage and effectively use the volume of data and information being collected in the course of these research studies and public health implementation programs.

“Our goal is to address these gaps through focused collaborative informatics training efforts.”

Activities will include short-term, in-country workshops twice a year and intermediate-term training at Vanderbilt for two to six months. Four researchers from the partnering institutes will earn master's degrees in Biomedical Informatics, studying at Vanderbilt for two years and then returning to India for the research thesis.

The first master's students are expected to enroll next fall. The first in-country workshops are planned for March 2010, to be taught by Vanderbilt and Indian faculty.

“We hope to build a cadre of highly trained informaticians who will use computational tools to harness new and existing data and information in support of these institutes' efforts to address major health problems in India and globally,” Gadd said.

VIGH has an ongoing partnership with NARI and NIE in the areas of HIV/AIDS and women's health research, and this training program is expected to enhance the collaboration.

“Data in research is increasing at a rapid rate, and systems to manage, collect and analyze this data, particularly with regulatory and reporting responsibilities, is an ongoing challenge,” Gadd said. “Informatics can play a big role in making researchers more efficient and permit sharing and wide spread dissemination of their work.”

Other faculty collaborators in this effort include Daniel Masys, M.D., Paul Harris, Ph.D., Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., Eric Manders, Ph.D., and David Haas, M.D.