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HHS Secretary Visits India
POSTED January 21, 2012 - 5:22am | POSTED BY Bob Bollinger
Recently, US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was on a 6-day diplomatic mission to India, to discuss bilateral health programs. She and her delegation visited selected sites in India, to highlight the US Government's support for Indo-US partnerships in health. On Saturday 14 January, she visited the site of the Johns Hopkins Indo-US research collaborations at BJ Medical College in Pune. This program has been supported by the US NIH for the past 20 years and was highlighted as an example of productive and sustainable Indo-US health research partnerships. Sec. Sebelius was joined by Dr. Nils Daulaire (Director, HHS Office of Global Health), Dr. Roger Glass (Director of NIH Fogarty Program) and other dignitaries from the USG and Indian Government, including Dr. Anand Parekh (HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and graduate of the Hopkins Osler Medicine Residency Training Program). Anand was a student of mine 10 years ago on the medical wards. It was great to see how much he has achieved, despite his exposure to my limitations as a clinical educator!
I established the Hopkins research collaborations in Pune in 1991. Many Hopkins faculty, fellows and students have contributed to these research activities over the past two decades. The major focus of the Indo-US research partnership in Pune, is a large NIH-supported Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), lead by Dr. Amita Gupta of the JHU SOM. There are 2 full-time Johns Hopkins SOM faculty members on site in Pune (Dr. Vidya Mave and Dr Nikhil Gupte), leading a team of about 60 scientists and staff (See the team photo).
Secretary Sebelius toured the clinical facilities and met with representatives of the Community Advisory Board, including one of our research participants who shared a moving story about her struggles with the stigma of HIV infection and her appreciation of the opportunity to participate in the research project that provided her access to medications that prevented her son from becoming HIV-infected. Her son is now a healthy 4 year-old. The entire team was greatly energized by the Secretary’s visit and greatly appreciated her taking time from a busy schedule to highlight their accomplishments. She even received encouragement to consider a run for the US presidency in 2016, from one of our Indian colleagues!