Since our institute’s inception as the Center for Global Health at Feinberg School of Medicine in 2009, the primary focus of our work has been in educational programs and global research in infectious diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. Communicable diseases continue to cause nearly 20 million deaths annually.
These research efforts are now housed within the Center for Global Communicable Diseases. Through this center, Northwestern will continue to research and investigate pressing communicable disease challenges worldwide, train new physician leaders, conduct lifesaving research to improve clinical care through partnerships with academic institutions and nonprofit organizations worldwide and continue to attract a high percentage of National Institute of Health training and research grants.
Research Grant Projects
Host-Pathogen Interactions & TB - Mali
“Host-Pathogen Interactions in a Failing Global lineage of MTBC: M.africanum (R01)”
This study investigates the secretion of inflammatory cytokines in order to better understand responses due to host-pathogen interaction related to the outcome of tuberculosis. TB remains a public health problem in resource-limited settings such as Mali, and investigations such as this are necessary to develop new vaccines and drugs.
HIV/AIDS Care - Nigeria, Mali, Tanzania, South Africa
“The Center for Innovation in Point-of-Care Technologies for HIV/AIDS at Northwestern University (C-THAN)”
The mission of this project is to develop a pipeline of point-of-care technologies critical for improved management of HIV/AIDS-infected individuals in low- and middle-income countries and facilitate technology commercialization. This project is a partnership with the Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies (CIGHT).
Through this project, scientists are evaluating a new way to differentiate tuberculosis from non-tuberculosis mycobacteria. Both diseases are major public health problems in developing countries, and the development and validation of these tools will significantly contribute into the fight against them worldwide.
An emerging trend shows an upsurge of non-communicable diseases causing morbidity and morality in people living with HIV in several countries, including Nigeria. This project, supported by the Richard and Susan Kiphart Northwestern Global Health Research Fund, will implement and strengthen targeted screening for these diseases.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a public health problem worldwide, but yet effective vaccine and short treatment regimens are missing due in part to the lack of a complete understanding of the host immune response and its dynamic during treatment. This study will address how drug related-dysbiosis would impact microbiome-derived metabolites that are important for immune cells responsiveness to TB. Understanding the dynamic of microbiome related-immune disorders during and after treatment will elucidate the contribution of microbiome in TB immune response in general with applications in designing future better vaccines and more effective treatments.
Optimizing Physician & Pharmacist Communications
“Integrating Community Pharmacists and Physicians to Improve HIV Outcomes”
Faculty: Northwestern PI Kristin Darin, PharmD
This three-year project, initiated through a public-private partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Walgreens and led by Dr. Patrick Clay at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, aimed to identify optimal communication patterns between pharmacists and medical providers that increase retention in HIV care, adherence to HIV and non-HIV medication therapy and HIV viral load suppression, as well as decrease medical care costs.
This partnership between Northwestern, the College of Medicine University of Lagos and the University of Abuja aims to create centers of clinical and research excellence for the prevention, diagnosis and management of benign and malignant hematologic diseases. The partners hope to spur research that will improve the outcomes for patients throughout Africa.
This project created the state-of-the-art retrovirology and mycobacteriology project research laboratories at University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako. As part of this effort, Malians also received training in clinical and laboratory research. HIV co-infection with tuberculosis is a major concern in Mali, as it interferes with early diagnosis and complicates disease management.
Our members participate in the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Nigeria and Tanzania. Our role includes education and training, supply chain management, clinical oversight and research.
Nigeria has a high prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis B and subsequent liver disease, making this a vital area of study. The study was the first of its kind to use the Fibroscan technique to assess the degree of liver damage.
Treatment of Pregnant & Breastfeeding HIV-Infected Women
“Evaluation of efavirenz concentrations in breast milk in HIV-infected women in Mali and their nursing infants”
Principal Investigator: Aboubacar Oumar, MD; Kristin Darin, PharmD
In Mali, efavirenz-based ART is preferentially used for the treatment of pregnant and breastfeeding HIV-infected women, which significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission to the infant through breast milk. However, few data are currently available on the extent of antiretroviral passage into breast milk and potential risks associated for the infants, including resistance or adverse effects. Given the scale-up of efavirenz-based ART use among lactating women, there is an urgent need to better understand the long-term safety and efficacy implications of antiretroviral pharmacology in breast milk. Principal institution: University of Bamako, SEREFO Laboratory.
Diagnostic Testing for Cancer-causing Hepatitis
“Active Viral Hepatitis Diagnostics to Support Prevention/Treatment of HCC (UH2)”
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly lethal cancer with over 80 percent of the cases occurring in the developing world. Chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection is a major risk factor for HCC development. This project developed diagnostic tests for HCV infections for use in low- and middle- income countries to identify patients at risk for HCC and to monitor treatment of the viral infection.
HIV/HBV & Liver Disease - Tanzania
“An Assessment of Liver Disease in HIVinfected and HIV/HBV coinfected Tanzanians”
Africans with HIV/HBV may be at significantly greater risk of liver disease than co-infected individuals in developed countries because they are infected with HBV for longer and are frequently exposed to other risks of liver injury. This study, supported by the Richard and Susan Kiphart Northwestern Global Health Research Fund, explores liver disease within these settings, as well as potential therapies.
Through this National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center-funded project, we propose to strengthen the patient centered outcomes research capacity of the Tanzanian Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) HIV research community with a long-term goal of incorporating this discipline into studies to optimize patient centered care in HIV facilities in Dar es Salaam, and improve patient and health system outcomes. MUHAS has a successful track record of NIH-funded research training programs in HIV with a growing faculty of accomplished HIV investigators with expertise in several HIV disciplines and socio-behavioral sciences. Our novel HIV/PCOR research training program will support short, medium and long-term trainings combined with capacity building in mentorship and curriculum design.
This project addresses a high priority NIH research area and significant problem in sub-Saharan Africa because of the widespread HIV epidemic made worse by the high burden of oncogenic viral co-infections. Through this project, investigators are building a multidisciplinary research training program at Jos University Teaching Hospital and Lagos University Teaching Hospital — some of the largest providers of HIV care in Africa — to build infrastructure and increase capacity for cancer epidemiology, biostatistics, biomedical informatics and translational and laboratory research on AIDS-defining malignancies here. This program is sponsored by National Cancer Institute and Fogarty International Center.
Nigeria has a high burden of HIV-related brain disorders (NeuroAIDS), including mental health disorders and neurocognitive or neurological impairment. Sponsored by the Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this project (D43TW009608-03) has developed three NeuroAIDS research cores with 10 investigators, two observational studies and trained research support staff, including three psychometricians at the University of Ibadan (UI). The program is distinguished by neuropsychological assessment expertise and locally standardized assessment instruments with appropriate norms to provide reliable and valid measurement of neurobehavioral consequences of HIV and its treatments in Nigeria.
Through this project, investigators will build a sustainable e-learning curriculum at College of Medicine University of Lagos and support a robust mentored research program for junior faculty. This investment in research and innovation will be critical to the country’s advancement of science and improvement in human health.
Through this project, investigators are building a multidisciplinary research training program at the University of Jos and Jos University Teaching Hospital — one of the largest providers of HIV care in Africa — to build infrastructure and increase capacity for cancer epidemiology, clinical trials and translational and laboratory research on AIDS-defining malignancies here. Our goal is to significantly reduce cancer incidence and its related morbidity and mortality. This program is sponsored by National Cancer Institute and Fogarty International Center.
In Mali and many parts of Africa, the incidence of mycobacterial infection is very high and driven in large part by the overlapping HIV epidemic. This program leverages ongoing research training efforts at partner institutions to further develop the HIV and mycobacterial research capacity at the University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako, Mali.
This initiative aimed to enhance medical knowledge and skills at the six leading medical schools in Nigeria. The improvements in the medical education emphasized priority health delivery to the community and developed the clinical and translational research competencies of medical students, physician trainees and public health graduate students. This project led to the creation of responsible conduct of research training materials called "The Right Choice."
Through structured training and mentored research programs, junior faculty members at the University of Ibadan will gain enhanced capabilities in research methodology, research management, bioethics training, mentorship, scientific publication productivity and grant writing. The goal is to enhance individual research capacity for scientists whose work addresses the priority health needs of Nigeria.
This training initiative taught a cadre of skilled, multidisciplinary scientists and outstanding research support staff, ensuring emergence of broad and integrative research expertise in HIV-related brain disorders (NeuroAIDS) at the University of Ibadan. These scientists are now working on discovering sustainable solutions to NeuroAIDS.
This partnership supports and energizes research training programs for junior faculty at the University of Jos and Ahmadu Bello University. This next generation of faculty scientists in Nigeria will provide solutions to global health needs through high-quality, competitive research designed, carried out and implemented in their own country.
Broad, interdisciplinary training programs that address critical needs in low- and middle-income countries have been shown to significantly increase the translation of research findings into realized health benefits. Northwestern is helping to establish comprehensive training programs in biomedical engineering in Nigeria and South Africa that will focus on developing effective, affordable, easy-to-use and innovative biomedical devices.