This spring, the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and Shiv Nadar University (SNU) in India co-funded four research projects that pair Duke University and SNU faculty representing a range of academic areas. Two of the selected proposals, co-funded by DGHI and SNU, are focused on global health.
In one of these projects, researchers will study the use of ceramic and mud filters to remove arsenic from drinking water. In the other, researchers propose to identify safe areas for women to be physically active in the area surrounding SNU.
Through this program, the funders sought to provide pilot funds to stimulate interdisciplinary research collaborations among faculty at both universities, with the larger goal of enabling investigators to leverage preliminary findings and data to obtain larger awards of external funding.
“This is an exciting opportunity to foster research partnerships between our two institutions, with the hope that interdisciplinary collaborative research on global health will grow into the future,” commented John Bartlett, associate director for research at DGHI.
New Method for Removing Arsenic in Drinking Water
Low cost technologies to monitor, treat, and/or prevent water contamination are critical means to improve the health of billions of people in less developed countries. In India, contamination of drinking water with pathogens of fecal origin and arsenic is a serious health concern.
In an effort to address this problem, Duke engineering and global health professor Marc Deshusses will team up with Susanta Sinha Roy, physics professor at SNU, to develop composite ceramic, red mud and silver-based water filtration systems for the removal of arsenic and microorganisms in drinking water.
This project will be broken into three parts:
- Meta-analysis of the filters to document their scope, opportunities and limits
- Fabrication of new filters and evaluation of their performance
- Cost analysis for mass producing filtration units, exploration of field trials with partners and pursuit of additional grant funding to support follow-up studies
Safe Spaces for Women to Be Physically Active in Greater Noida City, India
Despite the clear health benefits of exercise, few people in urban India—especially women—participate in recreational physical activity. For women, lack of accessible and safe spaces to exercise may be a barrier to engaging in physical activity.
Neha Pagidipati, cardiology fellow at Duke, and Truls Ostbye, professor of community and family medicine and global health, will be collaborating with Prasad Pathak, civil engineering professor at SNU, and Gatha Sharma, English professor at SNU, to try to identify and alleviate some of the barriers to exercise experienced by women in urban India.
The research team proposes to create an interactive map of places conducive to physical activity in Greater Noida City using geographic information systems (GIS) technology and overlay safety perceptions of women onto that map based on focus group findings. This approach will lend a better understanding of environmental barriers to women being physically active in this rapidly urbanizing city.
Based on the outcomes of this analysis, the researchers will develop an intervention to address urban infrastructure barriers to exercise in India and increase the level of physical activity of women in Greater Noida City.
Other Collaborative Duke-SNU Projects
In addition to the global health projects, pilot grants for two other interdisciplinary research projects have been awarded. These proposals were co-funded by Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and SNU:
- Global writing partnerships and cross-cultural exchanges (PIs: Denise Comer from Duke and Anannya Dasgupta from SNU) – SNU Academic Writing Course and Duke’s Thompson Writing Program propose to explore, design, implement, and assess ongoing writing-based partnerships among faculty and students. Pilot projects might include cross-cultural exchanges around research and writing, writing-based partnerships and visiting scholar exchanges.
- Investigation of the role of cell wall hydrolases in biofilm formation of Staphylococcus aureus (PIs: Vance G. Fowler from Duke and Richa Priyadarshini from SNU) – This team will study the role of cell wall hydrolases in establishing S. aureus biofilms and evaluate the potential use of these hydrolases as biofilm dispersal agents. Ultimately, a better understanding of this role could lead to the design of better strategies to combat biofilm mediated disease.
This is an exciting opportunity to foster research partnerships between our two institutions, with the hope that interdisciplinary collaborative research on global health will grow into the future.John Bartlett, associate director for research at DGHI