Renewed NIH Funding: Continuing our Collaboration with Kazakhstan to Combat HIV

The Kazakh National Medical University building is white with large white columns and pale salmon-colored accent walls. In front of the building is a white-brick courtyard.
Kazakh National Medical University

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 6, 2021) - The New York State International Training and Research Program (NYS-ITRP), cooperatively administered by SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, the UAlbany School of Public Health and the New York State Department of Health, recently received a five-year $1.5 million renewal award from the National Institutes of Health that will allow it to expand research partnerships and training opportunities in Kazakhstan, where HIV infection remains a significant threat to public health.

NYS-ITRP is a multi-institutional, multi-national effort focused on implementing HIV research training programs in countries that once comprised the former Soviet Union. It is the only HIV research training initiative in Eastern Europe and Central Asia supported by the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center. As a part of the program, over 200 research scientists from Eastern Europe and Central Asia have visited UAlbany for in-depth epidemiology training.

The renewal award continues NYS-ITRP’s collaboration with Kazakh National Medical University for an additional 5 years. Under this renewal, an initial cohort of four public health practitioners will attend UAlbany for the Fall 2021 semester. The Center for Collaborative HIV Research in Practice and Policy (CCHRPP) will advise and mentor the trainees as they work to build their research skills.

The trainees will then return to their home country with rigorous applied knowledge to help Kazakh National Medical University address the spread of HIV/AIDS, with a special focus on persons who inject drugs. In addition, the renewed funding will enable Kazakh National Medical University to add new partners, including the National Research and Clinical Center of Mental Health (which oversees substance use services) and the Kazakh Research Center of Dermatology and Infectious Disease (which governs HIV-related treatment and policy). The grant will also fund public health training for the Ministry of Health workforce.

“In the past, NYS-ITRP trainees have conducted a variety of projects at UAlbany under the supervision of CCHRPP affiliated faculty and the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute,” says Tomoko Udo, UAlbany’s Principal Investigator for the training program and CCHRPP faculty member. “I look forward to continued work with Kazakh trainees as we utilize the disciplines of epidemiology and biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, and health and behavioral economics to expand Kazakh research capacity and combat the HIV epidemic.”

This long-term, strategic partnership between the University at Albany and Kazakh National Medical University to improve public health training has also led to the establishment of a new dual degree program in public health at the undergraduate level between UAlbany and Kazakh National Medical University.

“Our successful collaborations with international partners show the immense benefits of exchanging knowledge worldwide to enhance public health programming and initiatives,” says John Justino, Director of UAlbany's Center for Global Health. “We are thrilled to continue our work with Kazakh National Medical University and are excited to welcome our Kazakh trainees to campus in just a few short weeks.”