March 12, 2024

Partnership Development Grants: Five new awards and a call for proposals

Global REACH is pleased to announce the latest award recipients as well as a new call for proposals open to faculty interested in developing new collaborations abroad.

Five recently awarded seed grants will fund new partnerships across five countries and as many disciplines.

Global REACH Partnership Development Grants provide up to $10,000 to help faculty launch new partnerships with collaborators overseas, funding intended for travel to or from Ann Arbor and other project-related costs in support of advancing international collaborations.

The primary intent is help faculty establish collaborations with new partners. In recent years, the purpose was expanded to include proposals meant to reinvigorate previously existing collaborations disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions. Such proposals may be considered pending funding availability.

The next  application window is now open thru May 3, 2024.

See below for the latest round of Partnership Development Grants. The awards touch on a range of subjects, from hypertension in Uganda to genetic research into rare eye disorders in Brazil, and more.

Enhancing Hypertension Research and Education in Uganda

U-M Lead: J. Brian Byrd, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine

Partner: Anxious Niwaha, MBChB, PhD, Fellow, Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute & London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRC/UVRI & LSHTM) Research Unit, Uganda

The proposal focuses on enhancing a burgeoning collaboration between Dr. Byrd and Dr. Niwaha, a post-doctoral fellow and clinician researcher. With a shared interest in hypertension, the two investigators have a nascent collaboration with multiple publications in process. The funding will allow the two to visit one another to continue the partnership informed by a deeper, on-the-ground understanding of the possibilities.


Genetic causes of primary aldosteronism in Black African and Black American patients

U-M Lead: William Rainey, MS, PhD, Jerome W. Conn Collegiate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Partner: Dr. Erika S. Jones, PhD, FCP, Director, Hypertension Clinic, Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is a common cause of high blood pressure, affecting 10% of hypertension cases and 25% of resistant hypertension cases. It results from excessive aldosterone production by the adrenal glands, leading to hypertension. Despite its prevalence, PA often goes undiagnosed, leaving patients untreated. Genetic sequencing has revealed mutations in genes related to calcium levels in cells, particularly among Black Americans, with CACNA1D being common. However, there's little research on PA genetics in Black Africans. Drs. Rainey and Jones will collaborate to study PA genetics in Sub-Saharan Black Africans in order to improve diagnostic methods and identify targeted treatments. Understanding PA genetics in these populations could lead to more effective treatments tailored to their needs.


Developing a partnership to improve nursing care at Holy Family Hospital, Techiman, and Kintampo Municipal Hospital, Ghana

U-M Lead: Rockefeller Oteng, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine

Partners: Holy Family Hospital, Techiman, and Kintampo Municipal Hospital, Ghana

This project builds on an established collaboration to expand nursing capacity in the Bono East region of Ghana. The region is serviced by two health centers, Holy Family Hospital, the initial partner site, and Kintampo Municipal Hospital, which this project seeks to incorporate. The aim is to assess nursing needs at these two referral hospitals via a mixed-methods analysis and, over the long term, establish a lasting partnership wherein residents fro the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwifes are able to train at both sites.


Genetic and Clinical Characterization of Nanophthalmos and Rare Eye Disorders in Brazil

U-M Lead: Lev Prasov, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology

Partners: Pedro Carricondo, MD, PhD, MBA, Professor of Ophthalmology and Director, Eye Emergency Department, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Disorders of refractive error, including nanophthalmos, contribute significantly to global blindness. Nanophthalmos, characterized by abnormally small yet structurally normal eyes, leads to severe farsightedness and various eye complications. The Brazilian population, known for a high prevalence of farsightedness, presents a unique case, with a significant number of nanophthalmos patients. Despite its clinical challenges, the genetic basis of nanophthalmos remains largely unresolved, with only a fraction of cases having a clear genetic diagnosis. Collaborative efforts between the University of Michigan and the University of Sao Paulo aim to fill this gap by characterizing the genotypic and phenotypic spectrum of nanophthalmos in Brazil. This partnership will involve clinical evaluations, genetic testing, and knowledge exchange between the two institutions, ultimately expanding our understanding of this condition and improving patient care.


The sub-Saharan Africa Breast Reconstruction Study

U-M Lead: Adeyiza Momoh, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery

Partner: Abeje Brhanu, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC), Ethiopia

This project seeks to expand an ongoing collaboration between the UMMS Surgery Department and colleagues at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College, in Addis Ababa. Specifically, Dr. Momoh and his partner, Abeje Brhanu, plan a mixed methods project to explore patients’ experiences and perceptions about barriers and fears surrounding breast reconstruction among survivors of breast cancer. Insights from their study can help to inform providers and policy makers about the benefits of reconstruction procedures as they develop and implement strategies for comprehensive breast cancer care in the region.