CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: March 12, 2002
UI using two grants to promote maternal-child global health
University of Iowa researchers are using two National Institutes of Health
grants to promote women's and children's health through research and/or training.
Each study aims to help reduce disparities in global health.
A nearly $1 million training grant from the Fogarty International Center
of the National Institutes of Health will help fund the exchange of graduate
students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty between institutions in
Brazil and the United States. The "International Maternal and Child Health
Research" project grant will last nearly five years and is being led
by co-principal investigators Jeff Murray, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics,
and biological sciences, and Mary E. Wilson, M.D., UI professor of internal
medicine, and microbiology. The grant was effective last June.
Students and faculty from Brazil will benefit from the UI's expertise in
epidemiology, clinical trials, genetics, and molecular biology in technology
and knowledge transfer. The UI also will gain understanding from their Brazilian
"This is an opportunity for us to strengthen our ties with scientists
in Brazil, who have a unique perspective on human diseases because of where
they have lived and trained," Wilson said. "Not only will it benefit
the individual trainees, but the grant will enhance our mutual exchange of
expertise, scientific knowledge and good will between American and Brazilian
The second grant is a five-year, $2.3 million award supported jointly by
the National Institute of Child Health and Human Services and the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation to eight medical centers, including the UI. The award
was effective in August 2001. The study focuses on promoting maternal and
child health related to cleft lip and palate -- and how to prevent the conditions
-- on a global basis.
Murray will serve as the project's principal investigator. Sandy Daack-Hirsch,
UI program associate in pediatrics, is the project coordinator, and Ann Marie
McCarthy, UI associate professor of nursing, is the behavioral studies coordinator.
Known as "Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research,"
the project has three main components, including understanding the impact
of cleft lip and palate on disease and death in people who live in underdeveloped
The study also includes a clinical study portion, which will examine whether
providing folic acid supplements to women during their pregnancies prevents
cleft lip and palate in families that already have one person affected by
"As less developed countries improve their health care, birth defects
such as cleft lip and palate become an increasing larger component of disease
burden," Murray said. "Cleft lip and palate is common, easily recognized
and preventable in some cases, so it can serve as a sentinel for this aspect
of health delivery.
"We are fortunate to have partnered with two outstanding researchers
in Brazil, Dr. Ed Castilla and Dr. Danilo Moretti-Feirrera, to spearhead this
project," he added.
Researchers from other countries in South America, including Argentina and
Chile, also will participate in the project.
Murray co-directs the UI Interdisciplinary Comprehensive Oral Health Research
Center of Discovery, which focuses on craniofacial research.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient
care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit
UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com/.