RFP now open: Partnership Development Grants help faculty launch new projects abroad

Looking to establish a new collaboration with colleagues abroad? Global REACH is now accepting proposals for the latest round of Partnership Development Grants, $10,000 awards that help medical school faculty foster new partnerships and launch new projects overseas.

Professor of Psychiatry Michelle Riba (center, left) and Ghanain collaborators at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. Riba is the recipient of a recent Partnership Development Grant from Global REACH and traveled to Ghana last fall to help launch a new collaboration there.

The awards provide travel funds to bring potential collaborators together for face-to-face meetings in order to define, refine, and kick-start new collaborations. The request for proposals is open through April 15.

Since first introduced in 2016, the program has helped faculty from many disciplines launch new collaborations around the world, including in India, China, Brazil, and Ethiopia. Among the 2017 awardees was Psychiatry Professor Michelle Riba, who had been talking with colleagues in Ghana for years about a training program to bolster much-needed mental health care there.

“I had met with colleagues from Ghana over the years at meetings of the World Psychiatric Association and the American Psychiatric Association. We’ve had many phone conversations. Together, we had this desire to partner and recognize and do something about this tremendous need for improved mental health education, training and clinical services,” she said. “But I had never been to Ghana so it was difficult to first-hand understand the scope of what all this would entail”

Last November, she and her project co-lead, Psychiatry Department Chair Gregory Dalack, MD each traveled for a week to Kumasi to meet with colleagues at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH). The department also had two child psychiatry fellows, Nakita Natala, MD and Heidi Burns, MD there for month-long rotations at KATH. The partners emerged from the meetings with a plan to launch bilateral resident exchanges and, with sustained help from U-M, increase in-country training in Ghana, particularly focused on child and elder psychiatry.

“It’s sometimes hard to get discretionary funds to build these projects and get them off the ground. So that’s what this funding did for us – it allowed us to meet, observe the need firsthand, and in partnership with colleagues in Ghana, begin to build a framework,” Riba said. “Even though it sounds like a modest amount of money, it was extremely helpful in bringing us together and gaining momentum and for that, we are most appreciative.

“We especially are appreciative of the help of so many colleagues here at the University of Michigan: Drs. Joseph Kolars, Cheryl Moyer, Tim Johnson, Philip Zazove, Katherine Gold, and Elizabeth Peters. And in Ghana: Drs. Ruth Owusu-Antwi, Gordon Donnir, Sammy Ohene, Kofi K. Gyan and David Ofori-Adjei, Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons,” she said.