December 5, 2019

Regenstrief and Indiana University public health leaders expand relationships in Africa

Dr. Theresa Cullen and Dr. Brian Dixon meet with officials at University of Gondar, Ethiopia

Researchers from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University are building and expanding global relationships and collaborations in the fields of public health and health informatics.

Highlights of a recent trip to Ethiopia include:

  • Brian Dixon, PhD, MPA, director of public health informatics at Regenstrief and IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, met with leaders of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about building informatics capacity across the continent.
  • Funding was announced for a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Digital Health Activity in Ethiopia, in which Regenstrief will play a significant role.
  • Dixon and Regenstrief Global Health Informatics Associate Director Theresa Cullen, M.D., M.S., met with leaders of the University of Gondar in Ethiopia to discuss a partnership.

Meeting with Africa CDC

Dr. Dixon and Africa CDC leaders discussed the need to build informatics capacity across Africa through

Dr. Brian Dixon with officials from the Africa CDC

training for both students and practitioners. Developing and using information systems to support public health is one of the five pillars in the Africa CDC’s strategic plan. Earlier this year, Dr. Dixon was part of the Africa CDC’s Institute for Workforce Development, in which he taught the informatics module of a course titled Transforming Public Health Surveillance to more than 100 public health professionals across the continent.

USAID Digital Health Activity in Ethiopia

John Snow, Inc. (JSI) announced it has been selected by USAID to lead a consortium to strengthen Ethiopia’s health information ecosystem. The group will be working collaboratively with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health. Regenstrief researchers, led by Dr. Cullen, will help to develop and implement an improved data sharing architecture for the country, create an information sharing act that supports the needs of an integrated national health information system, and improve IT infrastructure capacity and governance.

“This project is a critical part of Ethiopia’s Health Sector Transformation plan,” said Dr. Cullen. “Regenstrief and its partners look forward to working with Ethiopian leaders to create a sustainable and interoperable health information system to benefit citizens across Ethiopia.”

Partnership with University of Gondar

In a separate activity, Dr. Cullen and Dr. Dixon attended a special ceremony to sign a memorandum of intent supporting the beginnings of a partnership among Regenstrief Institute, the Fairbanks School of Public Health, and the University of Gondar.

Some of the objectives of the University of Gondar health informatics collaboration include shared research projects, mentoring and advising PhD students, enhancing exchange programs for teaching and research, and exchanging information related to instruction and training in public health informatics.Dr. Brian Dixon and Dr. Theresa Cullen (center) with faculty and officials of the University of Gondar, Ethiopia

“Public health informatics is vital to disease tracking and improving health around the world,” said Dr. Dixon. “This international partnership will expand the knowledge and capacity of all the programs involved, better preparing the next generation of public health informatics practitioners and researchers.”

“This partnership is an excellent opportunity to gain a global perspective as we work to address health challenges in the United States, Ethiopia, and beyond,” said Dr. Cullen.

About Regenstrief Institute

Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a local, national and global leader dedicated to a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health. The Regenstrief Institute, a key research partner to Indiana University, and its researchers are responsible for a growing number of major healthcare innovations and studies. Examples range from the development of global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the globe.

Regenstrief Institute is celebrating 50 years of healthcare innovation. Sam Regenstrief, a successful entrepreneur from Connersville, Indiana, founded the institute with the goal of making healthcare more efficient and accessible for everyone. His vision continues to guide the institute’s research mission.

More about Brian Dixon, PhD, MPA

In addition to his role as public health informatics director, Brian Dixon PhD, MPA, is a research scientist at Regenstrief Institute Center for Biomedical Informatics and Indiana University Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research, an associate professor at Fairbanks School of Public Health, and a health research scientist at the Center for Health Information and Communication, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Service, Roudebush VA Medical Center.

More about Theresa Cullen, M.D., M.S.

In addition to her role as associate director of the Regenstrief Global Health Informatics program, Dr. Cullen is also the interim director of strategic planning and communications for LOINC. She is an associate professor of clinical family medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

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