Harvard University

Executive Summary

Harvard School of Public Health-St. Johnís Research Institute Nutrition Initiative.

Although India accounts for 16.5% of the global population, it bears the burden of one-fifth of the total global burden of disease, one-quarter of maternal conditions causing death, and one-fifth of nutritional deficiencies. Low birth weight, anemia and child stunting are persistent health and nutritional problems. Meanwhile in the setting of a rapidly developing economy, chronic non-communicable diseases including obesity and diabetes are on the rise. Despite a well-documented dual burden of diseases related to both under and overnutrition, public health research capacity is still developing in India, and population-based approaches to improve nutrition-related outcomes are hindered by this training gap. Adequately trained Indian professionals with appropriate skills, knowledge and abilities to work together across various disciplines to implement appropriate prevention strategies are needed to halt the growing trend in this dual burden of diseases.

The Harvard School of Public Health-St. Johnís Research Institute Nutrition Initiative seeks to further develop and strengthen 20 years of academic collaboration between Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and St. Johnís Research Institute (SJRI). HSPH has exceptional capacity in teaching and nutrition research across several disciplines and SJRI has globally recognized institutional capacity in nutrition science, metabolic studies, and community-based research. Through mutually beneficial exchanges of faculty and students between Bangalore and Boston, the expansion of an existing and very successful short course in nutrition research methods, (the Bangalore-Boston Nutrition Collaborative) co-taught by SJRI, HSPH and Tufts faculty, the development of new nutrition epidemiology courses by SJRI and HSPH faculty, and the expansion of access to a website for distance learning via the newly launched edX initiative, we will substantially contribute to the establishment of sustainable public health research and education capacity in India. The long-term impact of the Initiative will be measured by the professional success of its trainees, and their career trajectories in critical institutions that are dedicated to reducing the public health burden of nutritional diseases.

The three-year Initiative will be led by an Executive Committee of senior HSPH and SJRI faculty members - Christopher Duggan, Wafaie Fawzi, SV Subramanian (HSPH) and Rebecca Kuriyan, Anura Kurpad and Tinku Thomas, (SJRI).

For inquiries, please contact:

Christopher Duggan, MD, MPH
Department of Nutrition
Harvard School of Public Health
Boston, MA, USA

Rebecca Kuriyan-Raj, MSc, PhD
Division of Nutrition
St. Johnís Research Institute
Bangalore, India