USC Funded by NIH/Fogarty: GEOHealth Hub for Research and Training in eastern Africa

October 8, 2015: NIH Fogarty International Center announced they are investing $21 million in partnerships between research institutions in the US and Canada  to establish Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) Hubs in developing countries.

Through the leadership of Dr. Kiros Berhane, Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine and Dr. Jon Samet, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Keck School of Medicine, USC will be partnering with Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) for the eastern Africa portion of the work which will include air pollution monitoring work in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The air pollution monitoring network and surrounding work that is a part of this hub is modeled after the longitudinal Southern California Children’s Health study of which Dr. Berhane has been an investigator. The hub will have two main components dealing with training and research activities to be led by USC and Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) respectively. The research projects will be conducted primarily by Eastern African researchers.

Media coverage:
USC Press Release here.
NIH/Fogarty PRESS RELEASE and related resources and information about the GEOHealth Hub project can be found here.

For background on this project at USC,see this blog post detailing part of the air pollution monitoring network planning process that took place back in April 2014 when Worku Tefera, researcher from Ethiopia visited USC.

GEOHealth Hub team in Ethiopia during a planning meeting in 2013.

Worku Tefera (right), Steve Howland, and Suresh Ratnam pictured on the roof of the Soto Street building at USC HSC disassembling an air pollution monitor.

Establishing a GEOHealth Hub for East Africa

L-R: Ratnam, Howland and Tefera on the roof of USC’s Soto Street Building as they disassemble an air pollution monitor.

Worku Tefera is a researcher visiting USC Environmental Health this week to learn about the types of air pollution monitoring conducted as part of the Children’s Health Study. The training will kick-start a similar air pollution monitoring network that will be set up in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. “Pollution is boundary-less,” said Tefera, who is also studying for a PhD at USC under the direction of Dr. Frank Gilliland.

Training is being provided by USC staff Suresh Ratnam and Steve Howland and faculty members Kiros Berhane, Frank Gilliland and Scott Fruin. “It’s been a busy week” training Worku and documenting all the equipment procedures, says Ratnam.

Tefera will be bringing exposure monitoring equipment back to Ethiopia with him to begin a study, as part of the Global Environmental Health initiative of the SCEHSC and part of the global health activities of the Institute for Global Health.

Tefera is co-investigator of a planning grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center designed to establish a “GEOHealth Hub for East Africa.” GEOHealth stands for “Global Environmental and Occupational Health,” with the Hub covering Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. He is also a co-investigator on a proposal with Environmental Health faculty on “Effects of Clean Cookstoves on Child Survival in Ethiopia.”

by Kiros Berhane and Carla Truax