International health research boosted by NIH grant to create bioethics master’s degrees at Indiana and Moi Universities



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A new partnership between the Indiana University and Kenya’s Moi University will develop master’s degrees at both universities that focus on ethical issues in international health research.

The program, funded with a $940,000 award from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, will create the Indiana University-Moi University Academic Research Ethics Partnership (IU-Moi AREP).

The partnership builds on the 20-year relationship between the Indiana University School of Medicine and Moi University School of Medicine in the East African city of Eldoret, Kenya, which began as a way to provide training to medical students and health-care providers from both universities.

The IU-Moi AREP is initially funded for four years to allow both universities to develop and launch parallel master’s degree programs that will train individuals to recognize and resolve the ethical, legal, social and cultural differences that challenge researchers doing medical research in a foreign country.

The IU team will be lead by Eric M. Meslin, Ph.D, director of the Indiana University Center for Bioethics and associate dean for bioethics of the IU School of Medicine. The Moi team is lead by Duncan Ngare, DrPH, associate professor of international health and director of the Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Moi University School of Medicine.

The IU-Moi AREP is one of only 15 training programs funded by the NIH’s Fogarty Center around the world. Both master’s degrees will develop a curriculum of core elective courses, a year-long practicum experience that will permit students at each university to spend a semester at the other university, and special workshops to develop strategies for teaching international research ethics.

“Recognizing the ethical challenges facing researchers is a critical step in the design and conduct of high quality health research,” said Dr. Meslin. “The better the ethics, the better the science. Our goal is to train a new generation of bioethics experts in the ethical and policy issues that arise in international health research.

“By developing a master’s degree program at Moi University, we hope it will become a world leader in East African research ethics; and by building a degree program in Indianapolis we can provide students here with needed expertise in the ethical issues of international research. Doing it together proves the principle established in the IU-Kenya Partnership, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Dr. Meslin.

The new bioethics program also brings an important strength to the existing IU-Kenya Partnership. The partnership has expanded its programs in response to the AIDS epidemic and developed the Academic Model for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS. The program has now grown to include a wide variety of health-care services, beyond HIV/AIDS treatment, and is currently the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH). That program has twice been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

William Tierney, M.D., research director for the IU-Kenya Partnership sees the IU-Moi AREP as a means to an end - careful, effective and ethical research that will produced low-cost solutions to global health-care issues.

“Americans often make assumptions that they know the right things to do to solve the health-care problems of low-income countries,” said Dr. Tierney. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Research is needed to identify these countries’ important health problems and discover cost-effective ways to overcoming them. Useful research can only be done in collaboration among researchers from high- and low-income countries, but such research has many potential bioethical problems and risks that need to be better understood and overcome.”

The John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC), the international component of the NIH, addresses global health challenges through innovative and collaborative research and training programs and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships. Additional information on the FIC can be located at http://www.fic.nih.gov/.

For more information on the new IU Center for Bioethics program, see: http://www.bioethics.iu.edu/arep.asp. For information on the IU-Kenya Partnership, see http://iukenya.org/.

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