The Impact of a Fogarty International Center-Supported Tuberculosis Research Training Program in the Country of Georgia

Russell R. Kempker Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia;

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Nestani Tukvadze National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Tbilisi, Georgia;

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Lisa Sthreshley Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia;

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Lisa Sharling Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia;

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Dawn L. Comeau Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia;

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Matthew J. Magee Georgia State University, School of Public Health, Atlanta, Georgia;

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Carlos del Rio Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia;
Hubert Department of Global Health and Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

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Zaza Avaliani National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Tbilisi, Georgia;

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Henry M. Blumberg Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia;
Hubert Department of Global Health and Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

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In 2004, there existed limited tuberculosis (TB) research capacity in the country of Georgia. In response, a collaborative research training program (RTP) supported by a National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center Global Infectious Diseases grant was formed between a U.S. academic institution and the National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (NCTLD) and other institutions in Georgia. We sought to assess outcomes of this RTP. The TB RTP combined didactic and mentored research training for Georgian trainees. Long-term trainees were supported for a 2-year period and with posttrainee career development mentoring. Metrics used to measure program performance included publications, grants received, and career advancement. From 2004 to 2015, 20 trainees participated in the program with 15 (75%) authoring a total of 65 publications in PubMed-listed journals. The median number of publications per trainee was six (interquartile range 2–14). A total of 16 (80%) trainees remain working in the area of TB; nine were promoted to leadership positions and three to lead research units at Georgian institutions. Ten (50%) trainees were the principal investigator (PI) of a peer-reviewed external grant after Fogarty-supported training, and 40% served as research mentors. Annual TB-related research funding at the NCTLD increased from $5,000 in 2005 to ∼$1.5 million in 2017. A Georgian Fogarty trainee was either PI, site PI, or coinvestigator on > 90% of all research funding. We believe that the NIH Fogarty-funded TB research training grant has made critical contributions to increasing the TB-related research infrastructure and capacity in Georgia, particularly at the NCTLD.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Russell R. Kempker, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 49 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30303. E-mail: rkempke@emory.edu

Financial support: This work has been supported in part by grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) including from the Fogarty International Center (D43 TW007124 to H. M. B.), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (K23AI03044 and R21AI122001 to R. R. K.), and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR000454 to the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute and UL1TR002378 to the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance [Georgia CTSA]). Support was also provided by the Emory University Global Health Institute. No author was paid to write this article by a pharmaceutical or other agency.

Authors’ addresses: Russell R. Kempker, Lisa Sthreshley, Lisa Sharling, Dawn Comeau, and Carlos del Rio, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, E-mails: rkempke@emory.edu, lisa.christine.sthreshley@emory.edu, lisa.sharling@emory.edu, dcomeau@emory.edu, and cdelrio@emory.edu. Nestani Tukvadze and Zaza Avaliani, National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, E-mails: marikushane@yahoo.com and avalianizaza@yahoo.com. Matthew J. Magee, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: mjmagee@gsu.edu. Henry M. Blumberg, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, and Hubert Department of Global Health and Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: henry.m.blumberg@emory.edu.

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