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Bloomberg School Selected for Three Centers of Excellence in Global Effort to Combat Chronic Disease


The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been awarded contracts to serve as partners on 3 of 11 Collaborating Centers of Excellence to prevent and control chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular and lung diseases, and diabetes. The contracts for the 11 centers, totaling more than $34 million, were awarded by the U.S.-based National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its Global Health Initiative to support a worldwide network of research and training centers to build sustainable programs to counter chronic non communicable diseases in developing countries. The NHLBI joined with Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group's existing Chronic Disease Initiative (UnitedHealth CDI) in establishing the “UnitedHealth and NHLBI Collaborating Centers of Excellence” (COEs) network.

According to NHLBI, each Center of Excellence will be led by a research institution in a low- or middle-income developing country paired with at least one partner academic institution in a developed country to enhance research and training opportunities.

In Bangladesh, the Bloomberg School of Public Health will be a partner with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) in Dhaka. David Peters, MD, DrPH, associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, will lead the collaboration at Johns Hopkins. The Center of Excellence will study chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary disease in Bangladesh. Johns Hopkins will provide assistance in building technical capacity in research, teaching and translation of research into policy and practice.

“Chronic diseases are a growing but neglected burden of disease in Bangladesh and many developing countries, as well as being an important cause of poverty,” said Peters. “Developing locally responsive and effective programs will require research, trained personnel, and partnerships between organizations – activities that are supported by this grant.”

In Guatemala City, Guatemala, the Bloomberg School will be partnering with the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) and will be headed by Benjamin Caballero, MD, PhD, professor with the Department of International Health and Center for Human Nutrition. Additional partners include the RAND Corporation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

In Lima, Perú, the School will partner with the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. Robert Gilman, MD, professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, will lead the Johns Hopkins collaboration.

The NHLBI and UnitedHealth CDI are also funding centers in China, India (Bangalore and New Delhi), South Africa, Argentina, Kenya, Tunisia, and at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The centers will conduct research tailored to their local or regional needs to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, including heart disease, heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Related risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, and environmental exposures that contribute to COPD will also be emphasized. Center collaboration with existing health care systems in their communities or regions will be key to building and strengthening sustainable programs.

Each center will foster the training and mentoring of emerging scientists, physicians and other health professionals, and/or community health workers in collaboration with their partner institutions. Each NHLBI-funded center is also a Fogarty International Clinical Research Fellow or Scholar site. The Fogarty International Center is dedicated to advancing the mission of the NIH by supporting and facilitating global health research and training activities.

According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases—primarily cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes—account for more than half of deaths worldwide, of which 80 percent occur in low- and middle-income countries. Furthermore, each year more than 35 million people worldwide die from chronic non-communicable diseases.

Additional information on all of the UnitedHealth and the NHLBI Collaborating Centers of Excellence is available at

NHLBI news release

Public Affairs media contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or