Event to explore how to develop new international partnerships

Developing an international research partnership can be difficult, but that makes successful work in global health all the more rewarding.

This month’s Global Health Initiatives Forum, the first of the new academic year, takes place Sept. 13 and will feature faculty recipients of Global REACH Partnership Development Grants. The event takes place at Taubman Health Sciences Library, room 2903, at 5:30 p.m., with presenters touching on their projects, progress and challenges when it comes to forging new professional relationships overseas. RSVP here.

“Finding an international partner is daunting, especially as a junior faculty member with potentially limited contacts. It takes time and resources to develop and establish those relationships,” said Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Erin Fedak-Romanowski, DO. “The Partnership Development grant is particularly important for junior faculty as it allows start-up funding to explore potential relationships.”

The $10,000 exploratory grants support travel to or from Michigan Medicine in support of new collaborations. Fedak-Romanowski, whose project involves treating pediatric epilepsy patients in Ethiopia through dietary changes rather than medication, is among five faculty slated to present. Other presenters’ projects involve addressing gender-based violence in Ghana; pancreatic cancer research in China; correlations between age-related weakness and diabetes in China; and the expansion of genetic analysis and counseling services in India.

The latter project is being led by Assistant Professor of Human Genetics Stephanie Bielas, PhD, who already has partnerships with Manipal University and is looking expand the scope of her work there to potentially include other institutions in India. Through the Partnership Development grant, Bielas has met with geneticists at three different institutions, from a small government hospital in southern India to a larger research institute in the northern part of the country.

“It takes a lot of resources when you’re trying to meet new people and explore collaborations. You have to spend time wandering their institution and asking questions. What are your needs? How can we help?” Bielas said. “They are busy people and they want to know you’re serious about it. The best way to show that you are serious is just to spend some time developing the relationship.”

In addition to the presentations at the Sept. 13 meeting, Global REACH will announce details and a call for proposals for the next round of Partnership Development Grants. See more details about the event here, including the full lineup of speakers.