Georgetown Professor’s State Department Grant Focuses on "One Health"

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON (Sept. 15, 2015)  — Identifying emerging infectious disease threats and incorporating biosecurity and bioethics in the development of medical technology are the foci of a new grant from the U.S. Department of State awarded to Georgetown’s Irene Jillson, PhD.

The $675,000 grant to Jillson, associate professor in the department of nursing at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, supports her work in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tunisia that focuses on both community-based epidemiology related to infectious diseases and on responsible science in health technology development and diffusion.

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 the projects, “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 bio-risk 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.

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 bio-risk management and support adaptation of the conceptual framework for responsible science to the Tunisian context in order to explore its practical application,” Jillson says.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR001409-01) from the National Institutes of Health.