Elissa Faro, PhD, research assistant professor in General Internal Medicine, has been with the department for only four months and has already received a University of Iowa Global Research Partnership Award (GRPA). The medical anthropologist will use the $10,000 in starter funds to assess the use of mHealth (mobile health) for mothers and children in Togo, West Africa.
“I’m very excited that International Programs has decided to fund this research, which will not only connect me with many new colleagues across the University but also provide pilot data for an R01 proposal,” Faro said.
Faro explained that Togo currently relies on poorly allocated resources and community health workers (CNW), who usually do not have sufficient training or equipment to fulfill the needs of the community. As a result, thousands of mothers and children die each year from treatable diseases such as malaria, acute lower respiratory infections, and other infections. Faro and her team will help the Togolese Ministry of Health to implement ThinkMD, a mobile clinical health decision support tool, and assess the benefits of implementing mHealth early on in care.
“I believe that this project will not only foster collaboration and partnership and provide research experience for students, but it will also contribute to the existing literature by providing novel information about the patient experience of an mHealth intervention in a global context,” Faro said.
Faro is working with the Togolese Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization to contribute to the Togolese digital health strategy. This project is in collaboration with Kevin Firori, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, and Amanda Wheeler Singer, PhD, MPH, Director of Research at Integrate Health. Integrate Health has worked closely with the Togolese Ministry of Health for more than 15 years.
In recognition of the increasing importance of globalization in higher education research, the UI’s GRPA is intended to help initiate new or expand existing international partnerships and to generate pilot data, with the goal of developing a sustainable research relationship and laying the groundwork for externally funded programs. The GRPA awards are made possible through International Programs and the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization.