Global Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Research in the Spotlight

This is an important time for global noncommunicable disease (NCD) research. The September issue of Health Affairs highlights the growing burden of NCDs around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and includes an analysis of the WHO Mortality database we worked on and a commentary on the global NCD research symposium held here in Atlanta last fall. Also relating to that symposium is a commentary in Annals of Internal Medicine that came online last week.

Here are the key take-home messages:

Coinciding with globalization of science, research collaborations across international borders and scientific disciplines are increasingly available. There is also unprecedented interest in global health among US students, clinicians, and early-career investigators.

We need to build collaborations between global NCD researchers and HIV/AIDS researchers. This will ensure the efficient use of limited research and healthcare resources.

US NCD researchers need to collaborate with international NCD researchers, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries. This will ensure that there is international capacity to monitor and address NCDs. It may also lead to reverse innovation, whereby interventions developed in resource-limited settings are adopted here in the US to reduce healthcare costs.

And finally, established global NCD researchers need to collaborate with early-career investigators. Funding agencies will also need to continue to support both the trainees and the trainers. This will ensure that there is a strong, well-trained cohort of NCD researchers to lead ongoing efforts to tackle the global NCD epidemic.

NCDs are the most important development issue of the 21st century. The time for coordinated action across international and scientific borders is now.

Jerry teaching (1)

Dr. Jerry Bloomfield teaching cardiology trainees at the NHLBI-funded Kenya Center of Excellence in Eldoret.