University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Gretchen Birbeck, M.D., M.P.H., has been chosen to serve on the Advisory Board of the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, which supports basic, clinical, and applied medical research and training for U.S. and foreign investigators working in the developing world.
Birbeck, the Edward A. and Alma Vollertsen Rykenboer Professor in Neurology, has spent the last 20 plus years studying the burden of neurological disorders and the effectiveness of health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa. She divides her time between Rochester and projects in Africa.
Birbeck’s specific interest is epilepsy and seizure disorders – which are far more common in Africa due to higher rates of parasitic and viral infection and constitute a significant public health problem – and the creation of scalable interventions to prevent seizures and provide better care to vulnerable populations on the continent. She is also collaborating with local academic institutions, hospitals, and government officials in Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda to develop the networks necessary to conduct clinical trials and create education and training programs for health care providers and researchers.
The Fogarty International Center funds some 400 research and training projects involving more than 100 U.S. universities. These U.S. scientists, in turn, collaborate with colleagues in numerous foreign countries, most of them in the developing world. Fogarty also convenes the best scientific minds around the world to address critical global health research problems and guide national and international global health policies.