PHILADELPHIA - The Fogarty International Center, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded $1.1 million to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine over five years to combat the growing epidemic of chronic diseases in the developing world. The award’s principal investigator is Brian Strom, MD, director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Senior Advisor to the Provost for Global Health Initiatives. Its co-principal investigator is Charles Branas, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology, who leads Penn’s partnerships with the University of Francisco Marroquin and the University of San Carlos in Guatemala.

Funding from the Fogarty Center’s Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases Research Training Program will help establish epidemiologic training for clinicians and researchers in Guatemala, where there are major shortages of scientists qualified to conduct rigorous clinical research on cancer, stroke, diabetes, lung disease, and environmental factors including indoor air pollution.

Chronic diseases now account for 60 percent of all deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Much of the disease burden is occurring in low- and middle-income countries, where populations are increasingly undergoing lifestyle changes as a result of economic and cultural transitions. Fogarty’s program is designed to help build research capacity in these neglected fields.

Strom and Branas note that Penn will work with Guatemalan institutions to mutually develop a training program addressing important aspects of chronic disease research including prognosis, prevention and early detection, treatment, clinical economics, technology assessment, medical decision-making, and patient care. The new curricula will consist of two pathways, both of led by Strom, Branas, their faculty counterparts in Guatemala, and other faculty at Penn, the University of Francisco Marroquin, and the University of San Carlos.

The first is a two-year, full-time program, conducted at Penn and in Guatemala, designed for those seeking careers as independent investigators. The second is a series of short courses, workshops, and programs, taught in Spanish in Guatemala and supplemented by two-way video conferences and web-based programs. This part-time program is designed for those interested in participating as collaborators in research projects led by graduates of the first pathway.

This is one of a series of global health partnerships that Penn has established. Others include partnerships with Botswana and Peru.

“Non-communicable chronic diseases continue to rise in low-and middle-income countries, where public health infrastructure and research training capacity related to these illnesses are often limited,” said Fogarty director Roger I. Glass, MD, PhD. “This new award will help build the ranks of trained researchers and clinicians capable of meeting the burgeoning threat.”

For an abstract of University of Pennsylvania’s new project, please visit:

For more information on Fogarty’s Non-communicable Chronic Diseases Research Training Program, please visit:


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

Share This Page: