New seed grants nurture cross-campus research on global health

illustration of earth and health care


Three multidisciplinary research projects are the first to receive funds from the new Global Health and Wellbeing Seed Grant Program, created to support projects that improve the lives of people around the world.

The projects will help reduce maternal mortality rates in Tanzania, work with Peace Corps volunteers to deliver health care in Senegal and look at connections between illness, air pollution and low income in Cook County to develop “environmental justice policy.”

The researchers are in a wide range of fields, including environmental sciences, medical anthropology, family medicine, urban planning, community health and women’s health.

The program, established by the Chancellor’s Global Excellence Task Force and the College of Medicine’s Center for Global Health, provides start-up funding for pilot projects. Researchers can later seek extramural funding.

“This new grant program is part of a larger campus initiative to develop a global strategy that fits with UIC’s mission to leverage the expertise of faculty across the campus in addressing global issues,” said Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares. “Disciplines and initiatives such as engineering, the social sciences, humanities, urban planning and environmental sciences, social justice and others — all have important roles to play in improving the human condition, locally and worldwide.

“The Global Health and Wellbeing Seed Grant selection committee is interested in high-quality research projects that highlight the excellence of our faculty throughout UIC’s colleges and departments that integrate multiple approaches and methods to study health problems and other global challenges.”

“One of the missions of the Chancellor’s Global Health and Wellbeing Seed Grant program was to develop innovative ways to unite researchers from across campus engaged in research to improve health and quality of life globally,” said Timothy Erickson, director of the UIC Center for Global Health and professor of emergency medicine. “The three projects selected this first year really exemplify that.”

Stevan Weine, professor of psychiatry and director of global health research training in the Center for Global Health, and Teresa Cordova, professor and director of the Great Cities Institute, are co-directors of the grant program.

Each grant is for up to $20,000 — $15,000 from the campus and $5,000 from departments, colleges or centers. An annual budget of $100,000 has been set aside to fund the new grant program for two years.



Andrew Dykens, assistant professor of family medicine, College of Medicine, Karen Peters, assistant professor of community health sciences, School of Public Health, and Crystal Patil, associate professor of medical anthropology, College of Nursing, will evaluate a model of health care delivery in Senegal that brings together community members, Peace Corps volunteers and academic centers to increase the rate of cervical cancer screening and treatment.

The partnership began in 2010 with Peace Corps liaisons to regional health officials and communities.

“We want to identify what is working well with this model of partnership, and what can be improved, so that when we replicate it in other places, the programs run as smoothly and effectively as possible,” Dykens said.

“The Peace Corps is in more than 65 countries around the world, so our model of partnership is very scalable and can be used to facilitate the delivery of a variety of programs beyond cervical cancer screenings.”



Serap Erdal, associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, School of Public Health, and Janet Smith, associate professor of urban planning and policy, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, will look for connections between socioeconomic and demographic factors, air pollution, health disparities and cancer risks, both globally and in Cook County.

They want to identify areas with high levels of air pollution and low levels of income, Erdal said, “to inform and guide air pollution-related environmental justice policies of local, state, national and international agencies.”



Patil, in the College of Nursing, and Stacie Geller, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, College of Medicine, want to reduce maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, a region making slow progress with this problem. They will conduct a needs assessment in urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, then adapt for city-dwellers a continuum-of-care approach that has reduced maternal deaths from postpartum hemorrhage in rural areas of the developing world. Their goal is to identify factors that put urban women at risk of dying from postpartum bleeding.

“We want to pinpoint where the missed opportunities lie, from the individual level to the health system level, in order to adapt and test an intervention that can save lives,” Patil said.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email