Education, Training, and Capacity Building Grants

Rutgers Global Health Institute awards Global Health Seed Grants to faculty conducting collaborative, interdisciplinary activities that address health inequities in New Jersey and around the world. These grants are awarded in one of two categories: 1) Education, Training, and Capacity Building and 2) Research.

Education, Training, and Capacity Building projects that have been funded by Global Health Seed Grants are listed below. For projects funded in the Research category, visit this page.


A Cross-Sector Partnership to Promote Equity in School Readiness (2020)

Manuel E. Jimenez, Department of Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Collaborative Partners: Center for Literacy Development, Graduate School of Education; Department of World Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Sciences–Camden; Greater Brunswick Charter School; Eric B. Chandler Health Center, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Even before children start kindergarten, their “school readiness”—in a sense, their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development—is a critical indicator of their long-term well-being. This includes their potential to thrive well into adulthood, including college attendance, career trajectory, and saving money for retirement. Young dual-language learners from low-income Latino backgrounds are at elevated risk for poor school readiness. Additional hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will amplify the inequities these children and their families face. Preschool closures, for example, and anticipated future disruptions have created an urgent need for innovative solutions to mitigate harms. Beginning locally in New Brunswick, this interdisciplinary project will pilot test a family-oriented virtual program that promotes literacy and language acquisition in both English and Spanish through the discussion of important health topics, while also evaluating the role of technology throughout. The family literacy program leverages the expertise of educators and pediatric primary care health professionals and the relationships they have with parents and children. This work will lay the foundation to expand and to prepare for an uncertain future.


Cardiovascular Social Determinants of Health in the Caribbean Symposium (2024)

Lisa Lewis, School of Nursing–Camden

Collaborating with partners at: St. George’s University

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.


Developing a Rutgers Model for Training a New Generation of Global Health Communication Researchers and Professionals (2023)

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

Itzhak Yanovitzky, 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

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.


Discovering Antimicrobials from Nature: Education and Capacity Building in Indonesia (2018)

Ilya Raskin, Department of Plant Biology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Collaborative Partners: Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences; Universitas Nasional

Millions of people in developing countries die each year from tropical infectious diseases. Unfortunately, the western pharmaceutical industry has not focused on treating these diseases, and available drugs are often costly and ineffective. Over the last 15 years, Rutgers scientists have developed and extensively tested Screens-to-Nature (STN) technology that relies on very low-cost, field-deployable assays to effectively detect pharmacologically active compounds in plants and other natural sources. By transferring this technology to scientists and students from Universitas Nasional and Universitas Palangka Raya, two leading Indonesian universities already collaborating with Rutgers, we will facilitate the discovery of natural antimicrobials in a biodiversity-rich yet poorly explored region of the world. This seed grant will be used to conduct an STN training workshop at the Rutgers-operated Tuanan Orangutan Research Station located in Central Kalimantan; establish sustainable STN-based research at this location; provide research training and capacity building for local communities and universities; and develop opportunities for significant international funding. Through these efforts, we will lay the foundation for a long-term collaboration between Rutgers faculty and Indonesia in the area of naturally derived products and human health.


Enhanced Capacity Building in Emergency and Surgical Care in Rural Ghana via eHealth Technology (2017)

Ziad Sifri, Department of Surgery, New Jersey Medical School

Harsh Sule, Department of Emergency Medicine, New Jersey Medical School

Collaborative Partners: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital

In rural Ghana, treatable conditions lead to disability, poverty, and in extreme circumstances, death, due to the limited availability of specialists and specialty training, especially in emergency and surgical care. Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital is a 100-bed district hospital in Mampong, Ghana, that acts as a training center for family medicine residents and where surgical cases are performed by just one surgeon. Associate Professor of Surgery Ziad Sifri has been involved in the hospital since 2013, leading a team of fellow New Jersey Medical School faculty in providing clinical support and training. This project is a collaboration between Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital, the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Department of Emergency Medicine, and the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Department of Surgery. The eHealth approach, using technology to expand capacity in rural Ghana, recognizes the challenges inherent to global health development, such as limited time and funding for on-the-ground engagement. This model will be operationalized via semi-annual site visits to conduct/update needs assessments, and via on-site skills training coupled with online collaboration and training. The eHealth efforts will focus on building an eLibrary for local use, live-streaming of routine didactic/educational sessions conducted at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, case-based teaching through online sessions, and other academic collaboration.


Enhancing Capacities of the Believe in a Healthy Newark Coalition by Engaging Rutgers University–Newark Students (2021)

Jesse Liss, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rutgers University–Newark

Bernadette So, Career Development Center, Rutgers University–Newark

Collaborative Partners: Believe in a Healthy Newark; Center for Public Health Workforce Development, Rutgers School of Public Health; Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies, Rutgers School of Public Health

This project establishes an undergraduate internship program at Rutgers University–Newark, whereby students will be trained and matched with community organizations that are leading public health initiatives in Newark’s underserved neighborhoods. The goals are twofold: augment the capacities of the public and nonprofit organizations that comprise the Believe in a Healthy Newark coalition, and create experiential learning opportunities in public health so that Rutgers students can gain exposure to career pathways in this field and enhance their professional skills.


Expanding Train-the-Trainer Programs for Lifesaving Bleeding Control Techniques in Resource-Limited Settings (2021)

Ziad Sifri, Department of Surgery, New Jersey Medical School

Collaborative Partners: Centro de Salud Carabamba, Julcán; College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, University of Sierra Leone; Department of Emergency Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; International Surgical Health Initiative; Office of Global Affairs, Rutgers School of Health Professions

The COVID-19 pandemic has stunted New Jersey Medical School’s Stop the Bleed training series, which teaches individuals who are not otherwise medically qualified how to stop bleeding in severely injured people and potentially save their lives. In low- and middle-income countries, where emergency medical resources are incredibly lacking, there is tremendous need for more people to become certified in these lifesaving techniques. This project will support the creation and promotion of virtual teaching resources to recruit and certify Stop the Bleed instructors in Ghana, Peru, Sierra Leone, and elsewhere, while also providing medical-grade tourniquets for training and real-world use in these resource-limited settings.


Expansion of the Buen Vecino Program to Improve the Health of Mexican Immigrants (2023)

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

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

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.


Health Passport to Healthy Living (2017)

Karen WeiRu Lin, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Peter Guarnaccia, Department of Human Ecology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Collaborative Partners: Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Rutgers HIPHOP-Promise Clinic; Elijah’s Promise

The Health Passport to Healthy Living project is to create a “Health Passport” booklet that will provide health information and education to the diabetic and hypertensive patients at the HIPHOP-Promise Clinic—a student-run free clinic sponsored by Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School—and the clients at Elijah’s Promise, a nonprofit organization in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Health Passport is a tool to empower people in the ownership of their medical data. Participants’ health outcomes, satisfaction, appointment and medication compliance, and utilization of preventive health services will be assessed before and after the introduction of the program. Health Passports are anticipated to promote healthy living and a greater sense of ownership over one’s health.


Innovative Approaches to Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy and Increase Coverage in Ukraine (2024)

Ubydul Haque, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Public Health

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

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.


Integrative Community Therapy for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors in Quito, Ecuador (2022)

Chiara Sabina, Center for Research on Ending Violence, School of Social Work

Collaborative Partner: Muyumpa

In Ecuador, 43 percent of women experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime; however, the reach of institutional services for IPV survivors, such as housing shelters and transitional support, is limited there. Alternative services are needed to better respond to IPV in Ecuador. This project aims to establish an integrative community therapy initiative in Quito, the capital city. Integrative community therapy (ICT) is a group-based, non-hierarchical approach to promote community support and self-empowerment. Through a collaboration with Muyumpa, an ICT training center in Quito, the project team will train 10 IPV survivors to become ICT participant facilitators and conduct 30 dialogue circles in their communities with women at high risk of IPV. Surveys and qualitative interviews will be used to evaluate the initiative’s effects, for example, changes in the participant facilitators’ feelings of empowerment and leadership and the circle participants’ self-esteem, health and well-being, resilience, violence attitudes, and post-traumatic growth. Results from this project will form a strong basis for expanding the training and use of ICT to other populations and locations.


Latent Tuberculosis Infection ECHO Pilot (2023)

Alfred Lardizabal, Global Tuberculosis Institute, New Jersey Medical School

Collaborating with partners at: Centre for Health Solutions – Kenya

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.


Rutgers-University of Ibadan Partnership for Climate and Health Research and Training (2024)

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

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.


Transdisciplinary Intergenerational Community Engagement Model for Senior Health Promotion in Greater Newark (2020)

Diane Hill, Office of University-Community Partnerships, Rutgers University–Newark

Collaborative Partners: Advocates for Healthy Living Initiative, School of Public Affairs and Administration; Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research; Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences; Health Equity and Multicultural Initiatives, American Heart Association; City of Newark Department of Recreation, Cultural Affairs, and Senior Services; City of East Orange Division of Senior Services; Hillside Senior Services; Newark/North Jersey Committee of Black Churchmen; Screen NJ; University Hospital; West Ward Community Coalition

Urban health inequity is rampant throughout America, creating detrimental lags in health literacy and appropriate health care utilization within urban communities of color. Complicating matters, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to disrupt ways of connecting with communities well into the foreseeable future. In Newark, New Jersey, the state’s most populous city, older residents are at great risk for increasing declines in health and wellness due to the conflation of these factors. This intervention seeks to support the city’s senior population by launching a health promotion program, titled Living Your Best Life: Virtually. The initiative is delivered online as a five-week series of 15 video-based wellness workshops tailored for the city’s senior population, involving trusted members of the community as facilitators. The project also includes the creation of training webinars, designed for the Rutgers research community, on how to use the Transdisciplinary Intergenerational Community Engagement Model created by Rutgers University–Newark’s Office of University-Community Partnerships. This model focuses on the value of partnerships between university and community and how to create, strengthen, and nurture them.


Wellness through Wisdom: Indigenous Women’s Cervical Health Test Training (2024)

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

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.