Global REACH funds new international partnerships in training, tech, and more

Emergency Care in Brazil. Mental health treatment in Ghana. Precision medicine in China. The latest UMMS international partnerships funded through Global REACH touch on many aspects of care and nearly every corner of the world.

This is the second year Global REACH has given Partnership Development Grants to faculty seeking to forge new relationships and projects with partners abroad. This year’s five recipients will receive up to $10,000 to cover travel expenses for the UM principal investigator and their overseas counterparts.

The winning proposals – for projects in Ghana, Uganda, China and Brazil – run the gamut from exploring capacity-building for basic post-natal care services to supporting the development of advanced software to sort through the type of big data required in precision medicine. Below, find an overview of the four winning proposals.

FMUSP-UMMS Partnership in Emergency Critical Care

UM Lead: Robert Neumar, Emergency Medicine

Partner: Aluisio Segurado at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil

As part of a growing partnership, colleagues at the University of Sao Paulo and UMMS Emergency Medicine leaders are planning their first collaborative projects to focus on diagnosing, monitoring, and treating severe sepsis and septic shock. A small team from Sao Paulo will plan to visit UMMS later this year to identify opportunities for specific collaborative research projects. Likely areas include clinical testing of new non-invasive hemodynamic monitoring techniques in patients with septic shock, and evaluation of nanorod PCR technology for early diagnosis of bacteremia and antibiotic resistance.

Introduction of the MiGene Family History Application in Ghana

UM lead: Shane Quinonez, Department of Pediatrics

Partner: Charlotte Osafo, of The University of Ghana

Dr. Quinonez will help colleagues at the University of Ghana adopt a mobile app tool that assists physicians and other health workers in collecting patients’ personal and family histories. Already in use in Ethiopia, The MiGene Family History Application queries patients on common birth defects and genetic diseases, and provides personalized genetic counseling information. An updated version of app will be expanded to include adult-onset non-communicable diseases like cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, etc. Dr. Quinonez plans multiple visits to Ghana later this year to pilot, validate and train colleagues on the app.

Multi-Generational Mental Health Curriculum:  An Authentic Global Academic Engagement to Build Workforce Capacity and Improve Treatment for Children and Elders with Mental Illness in Rural Ghana

UM Leads: Dr. Michelle Riba,  Department of Psychiatry; Dr. Gregory Dalack,  Department of Psychiatry

Partners: Dr. Gordon Donnir, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana ; and Dr. Sammy Ohene, University of Ghana Medical School, Accra, Ghana

As of 2016, Ghana, a nation of nearly 30 million, has only 11 practicing psychiatrists. Only about 1% of the estimated 2.8 million Ghanaians with mental disorders actually receive treatment. Dr. Riba and Dr. Dalack are  teaming up with colleagues at two  Ghanaian medical schools to explore long-term curriculum building to increase workforce capacity in this area. Initial work will focus on improving mental health treatment for children and elders in rural Ghana. In addition to face-to-face meetings for the partners, the team hopes to launch faculty/resident exchanges this fall.

Exploring the Acceptability and Feasibility of Group-Based Postnatal Care in Rural Uganda

UM Lead: Cheryl Moyer, Learning Health Sciences & OB-GYN

Partners: Peter Waiswa and Elizaeth Nansubuga, Makerere University, Uganda

While many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have made strides to improve antenatal and delivery care for mothers and their unborn babies, post-natal care HAS not kept pace. In Uganda, two thirds of mothers do not receive any post-natal care. Dr. Moyer and her partners plan to explore – and seek NIH funding for – the development of a group-based post-natal care program from an existing pre-natal care model in Uganda’s Rakai District.

Collaborative Biomedical Ontology Research and Software Development to Support Standardized and Integrative Big Data Analysis and Precision Medicine

UM Lead: Oliver He, Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine

Partners: Heng Wang, Biologic Medicine Information Center in China, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing

Dr. He is a leading authority on Informatics Ontologies, which are taxonomy-based models that help computers define the domains, terms and relationships necessary for massive-scale data searches, computations, and comparisons. A prior guest of the Biologic Medicine Information Center of China (BMICC) for presentations and short-term consulting, Dr. He plans to expand collaborations at BMICC this summer during a three-month sabbatical. In that time, he will help finish an ontological systems installation and set-up; help train the staff in the latest ontology methods; and begin to apply these tools to some of the electronic health record data that BMICC has access to.