Reassured that India’s strict new rules will be relaxed, US National Institutes of Health-funded researchers are gradually restarting trials in India; others remain uncertain about what impact these rules will have on them and their sponsors.
NIH should take an active role in making equitable access a core component of the research ecosystem. To do so will require strategic leadership from the Biden administration.
Fogarty International Center’s mission is to conduct and support biomedical research that advances health globally while decreasing disease burden. Their researchers strive to transform how we view global health issues, their causes, and how to transform discoveries into effective therapies.
Fogarty-supported research and collaborations are helping strengthen medical education in India, such as an innovative partnership between the National Institute of Mental Health and the Indian Council for Medical Research – marking their first collaboration on such an endeavor.
Fogarty joined NIDCR to co-sponsor the 2010 David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture featuring UK global health advocate Lord Nigel Crisp as speaker.
Fogarty also launched the Global Health Program for Fellows and Scholars, allowing early-career scientists to conduct nearly year-long research fellowships in low- and middle-income countries. It is supported by Fogarty and the Department of Biotechnology, with India contributing funds.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) promotes basic research that increases understanding of biological processes while providing the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Their scientists explore how living systems function from molecules and cells up through tissues, organisms, and populations.
Fogarty International Center (FIC) is NIH’s international activity hub. Through funding provided to FIC researchers and programs worldwide, disparities in health status between lower- and middle-income countries are reduced through research and training initiatives conducted together.
Fogarty grants provide early-career health scientists with significant mentored research experience in low and middle-income countries. Fogarty also boasts a robust program supporting the creation of innovative methods and technologies for global issues, including mobile health or mHealth, which involves researchers using wireless technology to promote health through education, communication, diagnostics, and therapy.
Scientists supported by the NIH work at multiple levels – from molecules and cells, through tissues and organisms, all the way up to entire ecosystems – conducting research that could eventually pave the way to advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Fogarty supports several programs to strengthen global health research and build long-term partnerships, with Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowships offering opportunities for researchers at any stage to conduct studies in resource-limited settings.
The National Institutes of Health has the financial leverage necessary to push the biomedical innovation ecosystem toward equitable global access but is yet to use this potential effectively. An idea would be for licensees of NIH-funded technologies to submit an implementation plan with estimated costs and a timeline for making their product widely available in low-income countries. A regularly updated portal compiling such plans and progress reports would foster accountability while encouraging the exchange of best practices – taking this issue more seriously from an early stage than having ignored it in the past.
NIH and Indian scientists have long collaborated in collaborative research efforts. One such center, NIAID International Center of Excellence for Research (ICER) India, uses clinical observations as well as field investigations of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, rotavirus infection, and HIV/AIDS to inform laboratory investigations on endemic infectious infections such as tuberculosis, malaria, rotavirus infections, and HIV/AIDS.
Applicant projects must demonstrate how they will foster collaborative basic, translational or clinical research between U.S. Principal Investigators/PIs and Indian collaborators regarding basic, translational, or clinical science research. Furthermore, specific aims should be included with their application to demonstrate how the project will address critical issues or barriers to progress within this area of science.
Additionally, the authors recommend that NIH be more transparent about its efforts to advance equitable access by creating an updated portal that compiles plans and updates regarding specific products, promoting accountability while encouraging best practices. Furthermore, mentoring programs should be expanded for women and minorities who face barriers to advancement academically.