Our Centre was established to assist with the WHO global program in the area of non-communicable diseases. The Centre began in 1986, focusing on insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). We helped to
develop and coordinate the WHO Multinational Project for Childhood Diabetes, known as Diabetes Mondiale (DiaMond), which involves 150 centres in 70 countries. The Project is designed to monitor the incidence of childhood diabetes world-wide to the year 2
000 with the establishment of population-based registries, and includes molecular epidemiology studies of the risk factors for IDDM, mortality and economic studies of the impact of childhood diabetes, and short and long-term training in diabetes epidemiol
recent years the work has developed along two exciting, parallel, directions, that of global disease telemonitoring, directed by Dr. LaPorte, and molecular epidemiology and
DNA technology transfer, directed by Dr. Dorman.
Telecommunications and Disease Monitoring
Much of local and global health involves information transfer and the
monitoring of local health conditions for allocation of health resources.
Since 1990 we have been establishing a
Global Health Network (GHNet). The GHNet consists of the establishment
of interconnectivity among all public health people world wide, the
development of a telecommunications backbone to a disease monitoring
system which will assess the frequency both communicable and non-communicable
diseases, the development of aglobal health network university (a meta
university) and networking of all health related non-government organizations.
The global health network system is being developed in conjunction with
individuals from PAHO, WHO, NASA, the
World Bank, US Foreign AID,
IBM, Digital plus several other agencies.
With the Global Health Network it will be possible for public health officials
and researchers from even the remotest areas across the world to exchange
information and data. The telecommunications system will permit almost daily
updates of health at the local to global level, and students will be able to
inexpensively take classes from leading teachers half a world away. We are
beginning pilot studies of this effort in South Korea and Chile.
Director: Ronald E. LaPorte, Ph.D.
Molecular Epidemiology and DNA Technology Transfer
Molecular epidemiology has recently been defined as "a science that
focuses on the contribution of potential genetic and environmental risk
factors, identified at the molecular level, to the etiology, distribution and
prevention of disease within families and across populations". This new field
has recently emerged from the integration of molecular biology into traditional
epidemiologic research. The objectives of molecular epidemiology include:
1) descriptive and analytical studies to evaluate host/environmental
interactions in disease, 2) the development of prevention strategies for the
control of bacterial, parasitic and viral disorders through molecular diagnosis,
and 3) the prevention of non-communicable diseases and genetic disorders by
assessing risk and identifying susceptible individuals through genetic
Director: Janice S. Dorman, Ph.D.
As yet, few countries are involved in molecular epidemiology due to a lack of trained molecular epidemiologists and limited access to advanced biotechnology for epidemiology and public health practice. Thus the International Molecular Epidemiology Task
Force (IMETAF) was recently established and is being
coordinated at this WHO Collaborating Centre. Its mission is to: 1) facilitate the development and implementation of programs in molecular epidemiology in all regions of the world, and 2) promote advanced biotechnology transfer for
scientific research and its integration into epidemiology, medicine and
public health for disease prevention. Each participating country is establishing a National
Scientific Committee with Government Advisors to assure that the activities related to the development of molecular epidemiology are integrated with other national health programs and contribute towards the establishment of appropriate health policy. Sci
entific committees in Argentina, China, and
Mexico have been formally established. Other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are planning to join this initiative. Although each molecular epidemiology program is unique, common international objectives are addressed.
These include an assessment of health problems which may be improved through molecular
epidemiology, an analyses of the nation's state-of-the-art in epidemiology and molecular biology, the development of multidisciplinary collaborative networks, tra
ining programs, disease-specific projects, and the transfer of advanced biotechnology and epidemiology.
International Collaborative Efforts
* Collaborating Center for WHO Multinational Project for Childhood Diabetes (DiaMond)
* Three international NIH grants focusing on IDDM:
1. Disease Monitoring
2. Molecular Epidemiology
* Long-term and short-term training for international students
- Molecular Epidemiology and DNA Technology Transfer
* Development and coordination of the International Molecular Epidemiology Task Force (IMETAF)
* National molecular epidemiology programs established in Argentina, China, and Mexico
* Collaborative survey of WHO Directors of Communicable Disease Collaborating Centers
- Disease Monitoring and Telecommunications
* Pilot disease telemonitoring programs in Argentina and Korea
* Coordinating WHO Directors of Non-communicable Disease Collaborating Centers
* Coordinating Global Spine and Head Injury Program