DGHI Awards Pilot Funds for Global Health Work in Uganda

Uganda malnutrition unit

Mulago Hospital child malnutrition unit in Uganda

Published October 14, 2014, last updated on June 3, 2020 under Research News

The Duke Global Health Institute is pleased to fund two projects that will test a novel screening technology among malnourished children and conduct a national survey on the prevalence of surgically treatable conditions. The DGHI pilot grants have been awarded to Duke faculty Michael Freemark and Michael Haglund.

Michael Freemark, professor of pediatrics and DGHI affiliate, is collaborating with colleagues in the Duke Department of Biomedical Engineering, including Ashutosh Chilkoti and Angus Hucknall, to develop a novel screening tool to better evaluate and manage child malnourishment. They are adapting a new and innovative technology for rapid, portable, inexpensive and stable microassays to analyze hormones and proteins, like leptin and adiponectin, at room temperature using tiny fingerstick blood samples. Data for this project will be captured on a smart phone, allowing for instantaneous wireless transmission to the home lab for analysis.  In two recent studies supported in part by the Duke Global Health Institute, Freemark and his colleagues found that leptin and adiponectin could identify and target malnourished children at the highest risk of death.

“Major barriers, like the need for freezing blood samples, limit the applicability of hormone and cytokine assays in pediatrics and in the developing world. This project presents exciting and wide-ranging possibilities for clinical assessment of malnourished children and other patients with nutritional deficiencies,” said Freemark.

Michael Haglund, professor of surgery, neurobiology and global health, has been awarded pilot funding for the largest known survey on the prevalence of surgically treatable conditions in a large developing country. The national survey includes data from more than 4,000 people and 2,300 households in Uganda. It involves more than 100 Ugandan supervisors and enumerators, along with collaborators from Makerere School of Public Health, the University of Minnesota and Duke Master of Science in Global Health students Tu Tran and Anthony Fuller.  The team will use the data to evaluate differences in surgical conditions, assess the barriers to accessing surgery and better understand the burden of surgical conditions and preventable deaths. Haglund leads a neurosurgery training and capacity building program in Uganda.

“The data will provide the first-ever look at surgical disease in a large developing country,” said Haglund. “It will allow the government to understand the unmet needs for surgical diseases and how best to address the large percentage of patients needing surgical care.”

For this and other funding opportunities, visit DGHI’s research funding page.