David Walmer, MD, PhD began his academic career at Duke in 1987 as a physician scientist studying the mechanism of action of estrogen in collaboration with John McLachlan, PhD at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In 1993, David's academic interests shifted to global health after meeting Dr. Jean Claude Fertillien in Leogane, Haiti. Together David and Jean Claude began a 25-year research campaign to develop a scalable model for cervical cancer prevention that could be realistically grown into a national program. That journey led David & his wife Kathy to found Family Health Ministries (FHM) in 2000. (www.familyhm.org) and the formation of Haiti sans Cervical Cancer (HsCC) in 2015. (www.haitisanscervicalcancer.org)
To date under the direction of Dr. Walmer, FHM's cervical cancer prevention efforts have led to
- the discovery of problems with obscuring inflammation when using cervical cytology as a primary screening strategy in 1997
- the invention of a battery-operated portable colposcope (CerviScope) in 2001
- the introduction of HPV screening as a primary screen for cervical dysplasia in 2006 (to date >24,000 women screened w/ HPV testing)
- the opening of Haiti's 1st HPV laboratory using Qiagen's hc2 technology
- the adoption of vaginal self-sampling as an acceptable screening method for cervical dysplasia
- opening of Haiti's 1st CareHPV testing laboratory in 2017
- the introduction of digital pathology to Haiti through a collaboration with PathForce Dx
- the formation of 'Haiti sans Cervical Cancer' an organization committed to unifying cervical cancer prevention efforts in Haiti (www.haitisanscervicalcancer.org)
Dr. Walmer and FHM has also been investigating women and children's health care issues in the mountains of the Leogane Commune for 20 years. In March 2016 FHM opened the Carmelle Voltaire Women's Center, which will begin to provide health care services while continuing to investigate strategies for improving women and children's health care in rural Haiti. Ongoing research efforts at the CV Women's Center include evaluating an HPV screen and treat strategy, family planning and continuous breast feeding.
Most recently David began investigating the impact of hypertension on health in Haiti in partnership with Duke Faculty member Joel Boggan, MD.
Many Duke Students (undergraduate SRT program, graduate MSGH program) have contributed to FHM's global health research efforts.