Professor Earns $675K Grant Award From State Department

SEPTEMBER 10, 2015 – A faculty member at the School of Nursing & Health Studies has recently been awarded a grant—totaling more than $675,000—from the U.S. Department of State to support her work in three countries.

Irene Jillson, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Nursing, is principal investigator on the grant, which will focus on both community-based epidemiology related to infectious diseases and on responsible science in health technology development and diffusion. The grant, which supports projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tunisia, will also engage other Georgetown faculty.

“This is really wonderful news,” says Patricia Cloonan, PhD, RN, interim dean of the School of Nursing & Health Studies. “Irene has built a successful track record through her ongoing work with the U.S. Department of State, and I congratulate her on this new grant funding, which supports this school’s strategic focus on global engagement.”

Promoting Responsible Science

Two of the projects will utilize the “One Health” framework, a concept gaining popularity that combines human, animal, and environmental health to address public health broadly. The efforts will engage life scientists, nurses, physicians, community health workers, and veterinary health workers.

Partners include the American Society for Microbiology, as well as academic institutions and local NGOs in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The first of those, “Strengthening Disease Detection in Pakistan: Safe and Secure Community Epidemiology,” will help raise awareness and strengthen capacity regarding best practices related to responsible science and biorisk management.

“Ultimately, this project will help Pakistan promote institutionalization of biorisk management best practices and an enhanced capacity for the timely and accurate detection, diagnosis, and reporting of infectious disease threats to provincial, national, and international authorities,” Jillson says.

And the second, “Systems Strengthening on Health Security and Early Warning to Infectious Disease in Afghanistan,” will focus on similar work, building on that country’s community-based veterinary health services and progress made through previous public health initiatives.

“We will emphasize learner-centered approaches, community-based participatory health services and systems design and evaluation, and integrated systems to address complex health issues, including disease control and surveillance,” Jillson says.

Conceptual Framework

The third project, “Linking Concepts of Bioethics and Biotechnology to Responsible Science in an Effort to Reduce Biological Threats: Application to Tunisia,” will be a collaborative effort among Georgetown, two Tunisian universities, and local NGOs.

It builds on an existing grant through which Jillson and her colleagues are developing a conceptual framework that integrates biosecurity, biosafety, and bioethics into each stage of medical technology development and diffusion.

“For this project, we will review existing Tunisian policies related to medical technology and biorisk management and support adaptation of the conceptual framework for responsible science to the Tunisian context in order to explore its practical application,” Jillson says.

The grant award number is S-LMAQM-14-CA-1183.

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