Throughout the university, Rutgers faculty are engaged in global health initiatives that span many disciplines and address the world’s most pressing health problems. To support faculty members who are working on issues of health equity in global and local communities, Rutgers Global Health Institute annually awards Global Health Seed Grants.

Announced recently by Rutgers Global, the institute’s partner in awarding the seed grants, the following projects are being funded up to $10,000 each. These faculty-led collaborations encompass research, education, training, and capacity building in global health.


Developing a Rutgers Model for Training a New Generation of Global Health Communication Researchers and Professionals

Matthew Matsaganis
Associate Professor, Department of Communication
School of Communication and Information

Itzhak Yanovitzky
Professor, Department of Communication
School of Communication and Information

Collaborating with partners at Rutgers School of Health Professions, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Hellenic Mediterranean University, and Democritus University of Thrace

Grant Category: Education, Training, and Capacity Building

Health communication is an essential component of global health and international development. Recent epidemics and climate change-related disasters have created the need for a diverse global health workforce that can implement evidence-informed principles, strategies, and planning of health communication interventions. The competencies and skills needed to perform this work go well beyond design and dissemination of health messaging to include competencies related to community and stakeholder engagement, building and sustaining effective partnerships, and using research in strategic and operational decision-making. However, an interprofessional program capable of delivering 21st century health communication training at scale is not yet available. The goal of this project is to lay the foundation for creating such a program at Rutgers. The project will include needs assessment research, such as interviews with key internal and external stakeholders to understand key health communication needs across various global settings and to define the critical communication, information, engagement, research use, and leadership competencies needed to promote greater health equity and systems-change in the global health context. The project team will develop a core training plan as well as engage in international concept testing, specifically in Greece, where the population and health care system have battled challenges related to a 10-year-long economic recession and an ongoing refugee crisis.


Expansion of the Buen Vecino Program to Improve the Health of Mexican Immigrants

Karen D’Alonzo
Associate Professor, Division of Nursing Science
School of Nursing

Collaborating with partners at Rutgers School of Nursing and Lazos America Unida

Grant Category: Education, Training, and Capacity Building

Recent estimates indicate that 40 percent of full-time residents living in New Brunswick, New Jersey, are immigrant families from the poorest indigenous Mexican states, especially Oaxaca. Many of these immigrants are undocumented and have limited access to health care services. To enhance support for this population while also creating clinical education opportunities for students, this project will expand the existing Buen Vecino (Good Neighbor) program. Buen Vecino is a partnership between Rutgers School of Nursing and the Mexican Consulate of New York City that provides health promotion interventions for Mexican immigrants in New Brunswick. Beginning in 2014, undergraduate students and faculty from the School of Nursing and promotoras de salud (lay community health workers) have delivered health education and screenings on a monthly basis in this immigrant community. Going forward, the program will offer cancer screenings, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and continue to offer diabetes and hypertension screenings; convene nursing practice doctoral students to perform health assessments and interviews and to provide referrals for treatment of chronic illnesses; and engage students and faculty from other Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences schools to provide health education and counseling in nutrition, social services, pharmacology, physical therapy, and dental services. The program’s goals also include expanding services to cover the entire state of New Jersey, collecting data on the most frequently encountered health conditions to plan future preventive programs, and providing clinical opportunities for nursing students from schools in Mexico.


Latent Tuberculosis Infection ECHO Pilot

Alfred Lardizabal
Executive Director, Global Tuberculosis Institute
New Jersey Medical School

Collaborating with partners at the Centre for Health Solutions – Kenya

Grant Category: Education, Training, and Capacity Building

The World Health Organization estimates that, in 2021 alone, 10.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB), a preventable and curable disease that disproportionately afflicts developing countries, and 1.6 million people died. Diagnosing and treating latent TB infection (LTBI) is a necessary step toward preventing TB disease. This project will address LTBI in Kenya, where TB is the leading infectious disease killer in the country, by implementing an evidence-based telementoring intervention for physicians and health providers. This project will adapt proven Project ECHO models, developed by Rutgers’ Global Tuberculosis Institute to address LTBI in the northeast United States and by Kenya’s national TB program to address management of susceptible, multidrug resistant, and pediatric TB throughout the country. The new intervention will virtually convene physicians to discuss LTBI cases and best practices in order to increase knowledge and promote changes in practice for LTBI testing, treatment, and management in Kenya. The programming will focus on newer short-course regimens for increasing treatment completion and expansion of coverage for TB preventive treatment to more eligible individuals.


Sexual and Reproductive Health Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Among Urban Young Adult Women in the Philippines

Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos
Assistant Professor
School of Nursing–Camden

Collaborating with partners at the Filipino Young Leaders Program

Grant Category: Research

The Philippines is experiencing an adolescent pregnancy crisis, which many consider a national emergency. In 2019, more than 10 percent of all live births in the country, an average of nearly 500 per day, were among girls aged 10 to 19 years old. Estimates indicate that 97 of these pregnancies are the result of coercive or unequal power relations between intimate partners and that half of all pregnancies in the country are unintended. Impacts of adolescent pregnancy include that only 38 percent of the mothers complete their high school education by the time they are 22 years old, which consequently leads to low-paying jobs or unemployment and, therefore, limited economic freedom. Public schools in the Philippines are not required to provide education about reproductive health and sexuality, nor is women’s access to contraceptives or post-abortion care guaranteed, due in part to opposition from pro-life groups and the Catholic church and despite the country’s passing of a reproductive health bill over a decade ago. This study aims to better understand how sexual and reproductive health care information is obtained by urban young adult women in the Philippines, and how such information and related dynamics influence these women’s attitudes, behaviors, and acquisition of health care services. The preliminary data will be utilized to develop culturally relevant and community-informed interventions to reduce disparities related to adolescent pregnancies in the Philippines.


Understanding Underdiagnosis of Dementia in the Context of Indigenous Older Adults: a Community-Engaged Study in Ecuador

Takashi Amano
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work
School of Arts and Sciences–Newark

Collaborating with partners at the University of Vermont and Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Grant Category: Research

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) are debilitating conditions that impair memory, thought processes, and functioning, primarily among older adults. Timely detection of these conditions is crucial for enabling patients and caregivers to make informed decisions about treatments, support, and services. However, studies have suggested that these conditions are underdiagnosed and that ethnic minorities and people living in low-income countries are more likely to have undetected disease. Indigenous older adults are especially vulnerable to the issue of undetected ADRD, due in part to interrelated cultural, social, historic, and economic factors that influence their health. However, underdiagnosis among indigenous older adults is understudied, especially in the Global South. This community-engaged study aims to understand the underdiagnosis of ADRD in the context of indigenous older adults in Ecuador. Specific aims of this study include developing a culturally appropriate screening tool and describing the underdiagnosis of ADRD from the perspectives of older indigenous people, their families, and the community. This research will contribute to establishing an equitable system capable of effectively providing vulnerable populations with ADRD care in Latin American countries.


Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s Global Health Seed Grants and all Rutgers Global Grants. Learn more at, and subscribe to Global Health Connection to receive updates in the fall about the 2024 Global Health Seed Grants.


Top photo: Quezon City in the Philippines