New International Leadership Award Helps Fill Urgent Gap in the Development of HIV/AIDS Research Leaders in Developing Nations
May 8, 2002
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Launches New Program to Help Control the AIDS Epidemic with Awards in Haiti, Jamaica and Kenya
NEW YORK – May 8, 2002 — This week, during the UN Special Session on Children in New York, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation announced the first recipients of the newly established International Leadership Awards. Three women: Dr. Francine Noel of Port au-Prince, Haiti; Dr. Celia Christie of Kingston, Jamaica; and Dr. Dorothy Mbori-Ngacha of Nairobi, Kenya were chosen out of 70 applicants from around the world.
The three-year, $450,000 International Leadership Award grants are designed to invest in trained individuals in resource-poor countries who have the potential to develop programs which will have a direct and enduring impact on the pediatric HIV epidemic in their country, but lack the resources to do so. “Most researchers in resource-poor countries are educated and initially trained in developed nations,” said Dr. Catherine Wilfert, Scientific Director of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. “But when they return to their own countries, there are very few resources or established programs available to help them put their new skills to use. This program will help them focus their efforts not on finding bits and pieces of funding, but on helping children.”
The first recipients of this award are all native to their countries. They also have something else in common. All three of them are women.
“While we could never have imagined that the top three applicants would be female, it is thrilling to recognize these women as leaders in their field,” observed Kate Carr the President and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. “These women are uniquely qualified to understand the big picture,” said Carr. “There is a desperate need for trained people in resource poor settings. The need is not just about the research findings, it is also about putting these findings into practice. This grant will have a dramatic impact on health care for thousands of children.”
The International Leadership Award program, which specifically seeks to identify individuals who are likely to have an enduring impact on controlling the global pandemic, also has a collaborative component that is a signature of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Award recipients will mentor a minimum of three additional people who will help to achieve project goals and also benefit from the experience. Recipients will also be given the opportunity to share their findings and experiences with scientists in other developing countries.
“The Foundation’s intent is to have the International Leadership Award program, which is modeled after the success of their Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award, help foster the next generation of leaders who will collaborate and share their knowledge so that the community of international HIV/AIDS leaders continues to grow,” added Carr.
International Leadership Award recipients will create HIV/AIDS research and implementation programs in areas including epidemiology, vaccine development, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, treatment of infected mothers and infants, development of national policies or strategies to combat pediatric HIV, assessment of economic impact of disease and its prevention, or training of additional in-country and regional professionals.
Francine Noel, MD will be working to improve the care of HIV infected mothers and infants in Haiti, where the seroprevalence of HIV is the highest in the Western Hemisphere. The goals of her work will be to develop a practical protocol to reduce MTCT in Haiti and create guidelines for Haiti to optimize the treatment of opportunistic infections of HIV-infected infants and children.
Celia D.C. Christie, MD, DMPeads, MPH, FAAP is working to create a model program for Jamaica. Dr. Christie will coordinate a leadership team and create a unified program to significantly reduce MTCT of HIV in Jamaica, where the rate of infection has risen steadily over the last decade. The program optimizes prevention and treatment for children and will provide for counseling, screening and treatment for women, as well as regular health care and monitoring of infected infants and children in preparation for effective antiretroviral therapy.
Experiences gained from pilot sites implementing MTCT of HIV programs in Africa demonstrate uptake of testing and treatment have been unexpectedly low due to potential barriers such as quality of provider-client interactions, and social and cultural factors including stigma.
Dorothy A. Mbori-Ngacha, MD will conduct an observational study to determine whether offering women routine HIV testing with the option to ‘opt-out’ will improve the acceptance of testing, uptake of drugs designed to reduce transmission, and prevention of infant infection when compared to the conventional model of antenatal voluntary counseling and testing. Dr. Mbori-Ngacha’s work will be conducted in Nairobi, Kenya but will have implications in communities throughout Africa and the developing world.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is the leading worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying, funding, and conducting pediatric HIV/AIDS research as well as promoting global education, awareness, and compassion about HIV/AIDS in children. In addition, the Foundation is committed to working on other serious and life-threatening diseases facing children through the newly created Glaser Pediatric Research Network. The Network brings together five of the nation’s pre-eminent academic medical centers in an unprecedented collaboration that will accelerate better treatments for seriously ill children, help train the next generation of pediatric clinical investigators, and serve as a united voice to advocate policies that improve children’s health worldwide. Since 1988, the Foundation has raised more than $130 million to ensure that children are at the forefront of every scientific breakthrough.