Rutgers Global Health Institute awards Global Health Seed Grants to faculty who are working on issues of health equity in global and local communities. Funded projects span many disciplines and address some of the world’s most pressing health problems.

Five proposals were selected to receive 2024 Global Health Seed Grants of up to $10,000 each, awarded in partnership with Rutgers Global. Faculty-led projects in the Caribbean, India and New Jersey, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Venezuela will address disparities in cardiovascular health, tuberculosis, impacts of climate change on noncommunicable diseases, vaccination coverage, and cervical cancer.


Wellness through Wisdom: Indigenous Women’s Cervical Health Test Training

Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Collaborating with partners at Universidad Central de Venezuela and Universo Docere

Grant Category: Education, Training, and Capacity Building

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers among women around the world. It is also one of the most preventable. Regular pap test screening decreases cervical cancer incidence and mortality by at least 80 percent. In addition, both vaccination and screening exist for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer. However, because these prevention methods are lacking or extremely limited in many parts of the world, most cervical cancer cases and deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In Venezuela, cervical cancer is one of the main causes of cancer death among women, and in the southern jungles, indigenous women have almost double the national prevalence of cervical cancer, with 47 cases per 100 women. This project will introduce a system for cervical cancer surveillance in remote villages, building a local health network of female indigenous agents to support cultural awareness, screenings, and HPV vaccination in the region. These efforts also will broaden Rutgers’ opportunities for scholarly collaborations and serve as model for other regions in the world.


Innovative Approaches to Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy and Increase Coverage in Ukraine

Ubydul Haque
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
School of Public Health

Collaborating with partners at Department of Public Health, Poltava State Medical University, Ukraine

Grant Category: Education, Training, and Capacity Building

Inequitable vaccine coverage is an inevitable outcome of military conflict, and this inequity can have profound impacts on the health of a population. Nearly 30 percent of deaths among children under 5 years old are caused by vaccine-preventable diseases, and over 1.5 million deaths recorded in children annually are from diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has severely disrupted health care, including vaccination services. Even before the invasion, Ukraine struggled to achieve sufficient vaccination coverage, with rates below World Health Organization targets for herd immunity. During the invasion, the vaccination program in Ukraine faced serious disruptions, including limited vaccine supply, storage issues, and attacks on health care facilities. Urgent action is needed to control and fill gaps in vaccination coverage in Ukraine. This project will conduct a nationwide cross-sectional study involving 5,000 individuals from 24 oblasts in Ukraine to collect data on vaccine hesitancy, barriers to vaccination, and their impact on health equity. The aims are to identify the root causes of vaccine hesitancy and barriers to vaccination among the Ukranian population, and to gather stakeholder perspectives on challenges, barriers, and plans for improving vaccination coverage in Ukraine.


Rutgers-University of Ibadan Partnership for Climate and Health Research and Training

Hari Iyer
Cancer Epidemiology and Health Outcomes
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Collaborating with partners at Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan

Grant Category: Education, Training, and Capacity Building

Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) population is projected to roughly double by 2050, reaching 2.2 billion. This increase will give rise to an older, more urban population and corresponding increase in non-communicable disease (NCD) burden. Alongside NCD control strategies already implemented, the region’s national ministries of health are beginning to consider the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Nigeria, the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, can offer lessons to other countries due to its rapidly urbanizing population, large proportion of children and teenagers, and vulnerability to climate-related flooding and drought. Health impacts of these climate-related weather events are increasingly being studied using geospatial exposure measures of flooding, wildfire, air pollution, and green space. At present, there are limited opportunities for the region’s public health and medical students and faculty to develop skills in geospatial analysis. This project will deliver a 12-month training program in geospatial analysis for climate change-related environmental exposures and their impacts on NCDs in African settings. The training will be led by faculty at Rutgers and the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s premier and largest university at which the study of climate change, environment, and chronic disease epidemiology is an active priority. IkeOluwapo Ajayi, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics and director of the Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training at the University of Ibadan, is the co-lead for this project. This project also aims to provide mentorship for early career researchers and further partnership-based research in this critical area.


Cardiovascular Social Determinants of Health in the Caribbean Symposium

Lisa Lewis
School of Nursing–Camden

Collaborating with partners at St. George’s University

Grant Category: Education, Training, and Capacity Building

Cardiovascular disease remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In particular, the Caribbean region has been disproportionately affected by cardiovascular diseases, with high rates of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. This disparity can be attributed to a multitude of social determinants, including limited access to health care, lifestyle behaviors such as poor diet and physical inactivity, socioeconomic factors such as poverty and income inequality, and cultural norms that contribute to unhealthy behaviors. There is a crucial need to address these social determinants of health using a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach. This project will establish an international collaboration and develop a comprehensive three-part symposium on cardiovascular social determinants of health in the Caribbean. The symposium will convene researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and community leaders to discuss the impact of social determinants of health on cardiovascular health in the Caribbean region and identify strategies for improving cardiovascular health outcomes.


Evaluation of a Novel Candidate Drug Against Latent Tuberculosis

Selvakumar Subbian
Public Health Research Institute
New Jersey Medical School

Collaborating with partners at Foundation for Neglected Disease Research in Bengaluru, India

Grant Category: Research

Tuberculosis (TB) killed 1.3 million people and caused 10.3 million new cases worldwide in 2022. Additionally, a fourth of the global population is estimated to harbor asymptomatic, latent TB (LTBI), which can reactivate into symptomatic TB upon immunosuppression of the host. Current TB therapy is inefficient in clearing the dormant bacteria in LTBI cases. One key challenge in TB drug discovery is the poor ability of the drugs to penetrate the granuloma, an organized cellular structure at the site of infection, where the TB-causing bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) survive and multiply. Therefore, new drugs are urgently needed to stop reactivation of LTBI and prevent TB transmission, particularly in endemic countries. This project will evaluate the potential of FNDR-10045, a novel anti-TB drug, developed by the Foundation for Neglected Disease Research (FNDR), against LTBI or asymptomatic TB. Using an in vitro granuloma model established at Rutgers, this study will assess the ability of FNDR-10045 to penetrate the granuloma, inhibit granuloma expansion, and promote bactericidal activity against dormant bacteria within the granuloma. This research will enable the progression of candidate drug FNDR-10045 into a promising therapeutic intervention against LTBI, which holds great potential in curtailing disease transmission and improving TB control.


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 2025 Global Health Seed Grants.


Top photo: View of the Tepui Autana from the indigenous population of Ceguera, located in the state of Amazonas, Venezuela.