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Public Health Foundation of India

Fellowship Site Directors: K.M. Venkat Narayan, MD, MSc, MBA, Emory University, D. Prabhakaran, MD, PHFI

Site Contact:
Mark Hutcheson

Site Specialties: Heart disease, stroke, diabetes & cardiometabolic diseases, eye diseases

Navigate to:

About PHFI
Connecting Research to Policy
Current and potential future research opportunities
Trainee Housing & Safety

Site Highlights:

  • Currently, there are > 100 faculty and research staff (30+ PhD fellows) working on > 50 projects of public health concern, ranging from junior and middle to senior level.
  • Research is funded by grants from international agencies including Wellcome Trust, NIH, BMGF, Norwegian Government, Bloomberg Global Initiative, WHO, World Bank, USAID, and UNICEF.
  • The BMGF awarded $18 million to PHFI for providing technical assistance and capacity building support to the efforts of the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO).
  • PHFI in conjunction with its partners, Emory, All India Institutes of Medical Science, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, and Centre for Chronic Disease Control, is an NHLBI Center of Excellence for the Prevention and Control of Cardiometabolic Disease in South Asia.
  • The South Asia Centre of Excellence for Vision and Disability (SACVAD) is a collaboration between PHFI and the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH), researching eye-related disabilities in South Asia.
  • The South Asia Network for Chronic Diseases (SANCD) was established with a $6 million grant from the Wellcome Trust as a collaboration between PHFI and the LSHTM to build capacity and set up a chronic disease research network.
  • IC-HEALTH is a joint program of the Global Forum for Health Research (GFHR) and the WHO (NCD Cluster) to promote and prioritize resource-sensitive and context specific research addressing the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in the developing countries.
  • The Centre of Excellence in Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia (COE-CARRS) is a strategic grant funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), USA and Chronic Disease Initiative, UnitedHealth Group, USA. Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Emory University are the lead partners with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Aga Khan University (AKU), Karachi and Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) functioning as network partners. The broad aims of this centre are to conduct translational research, build capacity and connect science with policy. COE-CARRS (Center for cArdio-metabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia) is currently implementing two major studies. The CARRS-Surveillance Study aims to develop a model surveillance scheme for CVD Chennai, New Delhi, and Karachi, Pakistan. The CARRS Translation Trial is a multi-site, individually randomized, controlled translation trial of a cardiovascular risk reduction intervention in 1,120 Type 2 diabetes patients attending seven established out-patient clinics in India and one in Pakistan.
  • The South Asia Network for Chronic Diseases in India (SANCD) is a chronic disease unit of PHFI that was established as a collaborative venture with constituent colleges of the Wellcome Trust Bloomsbury Centre for Clinical Tropical Medicine. The Network is comprised of existing research groups led by Indian and UK investigators in Delhi (Centre for Chronic Disease Control), Mumbai (SNEHA), Goa (Sangath), Chennai (VHS) and Pondicherry (Aravind) as well as partner organizations from Bangladesh – The International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research (ICDDRB), Pakistan – Aga Khan University, and Sri Lanka – Institute for Research Development (IRD). SANCD also collaborates with institutes in the UK including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of Bristol, King‘s College of London and Newcastle University. The mission of SANCD is to promote and strengthen chronic disease research capacity in South Asia through sharing skills and knowledge between network partners, with the aim of improving the prevention and control of chronic disease in the region.
  • In conjunction with Centre for Chronic Disease Control (New Delhi), a Genetics and Biochemistry Laboratory (GBL) has been established where DNA and RNA extraction as well as biochemical analyses of various biological specimens are processed for various research projects.
  • The South Asia Centre for Disability Inclusive Development and Research (SACVDIR) is a centre of excellence under PHFI in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and its component institution, the International Centre for Eye Health. Research Projects Undertaken by SACDIR have included a multi-centric collaborative study on the impact of global warming and ultra violet radiation (UVR) exposure on ocular health in India, barriers to employment and employability for persons with disabilities in Hyderabad, and gender as a determinant of the uptake of services in persons with disabilities.

The Public Health Foundation of India

PHFI plans to have a total of eight Indian Institutes of Public Health (IIPH) established by the end of 2012. The IIPHs aim to make their education and research activities relevant to India in content and context, while attaining standards, which are qualitatively comparable with the best in the world. The IIPHs conduct short-term training programs and workshops to capacitate public health functionaries including doctors, nurses and other para-medical personnel with requisite skills of epidemiology, biostatistics, clinical research, nutrition, and other subjects. Four IIPHs are currently running in Gurgaon, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar.

The IIPH at Hyderabad was established by PHFI in 2006 under a public-private partnership with Government of Andhra Pradesh. Spread over 45 acres of land, the Institute is a fully residential campus is upcoming for students and faculty. Apart from strengthening the health services of Andhra Pradesh, the IIPH is aimed to build capacity in public health policy development, programmed design, delivery and evaluation as well as develop health system management. National programs like National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) as well as state and regional level health initiatives would also be assisted by the IIPH. Hyderabad: PG Diploma in Biostatistics and Data Management. The Delhi IIPH has the largest enrollment and number of faculty, with four programs running: PG Diplomas in Clinical Research, Public Health Management and Health Economics, Health Care Financing and Health Policy and a distance-learning course in Public Health Nutrition.

The Gandhinagar campus offers PG Diplomas in Public Health Management and Health Economics, Health Care Financing and Health. Construction was completed in 2010 on an IIPH campus in Bhubaneswar. The Government of Orissa provided 40 acres of land provided and PHFI is investing over $30 million in the project. The institute is addressing education, training and research on prioritized health problems of Orissa. The Government of Meghalaya donated land for an IIPH campus at Shillong. Construction will be completed by the end of 2011. The IIPH will serve to ameliorate various health-related problems, including malaria and TB, in northeast India. Discussions are under way with Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu to set up similar IIPH campuses.


PHFI has a mandate to establish a strong national research network of public health and allied institutions which would undertake policy and programme relevant research that will advance public health goals in priority areas. Research has been an important pillar of PHFI‘s activities. There are more than 200 faculty and research staff working on multiple projects of public health concern and research projects have spanned a wide range of disciplines, diseases, determinants and health system components. To date, research conducted by PHFI has been reflected in over 100+ scientific publications in journals and 22 books, chapters and monographs. During 2010, there were over 170 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including a special series published by the Lancet.

To lead, manage, and support diverse projects, PHFI has a multidisciplinary team of researchers, with medical and non-medical backgrounds (management, psychology, economics, finance, statistics, social work, pharmacy), who specialize in technical areas such as health economics, health systems and financing, policy analysis, epidemiology, clinical research, genetics, nutrition, biostatistics, demography and some others. Our researchers also work on adolescent health, equity issues, urban health, community-based initiatives, women‘s empowerment, mental health, oral health and climate change.

PHFI maintains a strong research environment among its six locations.  In order to build scale and collaborations, PHFI has started organizing bi-annual research symposiums that bring all research staff together to present their work. The first symposium was held in March 2011 and the next symposium is planned for October. These gatherings allow researchers to share information and discuss opportunities to think about strategic directions, research priorities and research platforms for PHFI at an institutional level.  Although much of PHFI‘s research is conducted at the headquarters in New Delhi and the four IIPHs, a growing trend has been to consolidate research in Centres of Excellence. These include:

Connecting Research to Policy:

As in many other countries, there is a significant divide between academic research and the needs of policymakers in India.  PHFI has tried to bridge this gap by interacting closely with state and national government officials. One such example is the work done by PHFI researchers on the High Level Expert Group (HLEG), which will provide a framework for Universal Health Coverage, to be progressively implemented over 2010-2020 by the Government of India. PHFI is the Secretariat of HLEG.

Current and potential future research opportunities for Global Health Fellows:

HSN268200900026C-1-0-1 (PIs: Prabhakaran, Narayan)
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Global Health Activities in Developing Countries to Combat Non-communicable Chronic Disease

The purpose of this program is to combat non-communicable chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases (CVPD), in developing countries, by enabling clinical research infrastructure development and research training and by conducting research on new or improved approaches, programs, and measures to prevent or treat chronic CVPD. Funded studies include a Center for cArdio-metabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia (CARRS) translation trial and a CARRS surveillance study.

UHG    (PIs: Prabhakaran, Narayan) Ovations / United Health Group
Center of Excellence for Control and Prevention of Cardiometabolic Disease in South Asia

The major goal of this funding is to support research projects at a center in New Delhi for

prevention and control of cardiometabolic disease in South Asia that will serve as a research hub, will train world-class investigators and build research capacity, and produce and disseminate innovative, science-driven, and low-cost solutions.

Gates (PI: Reddy) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Strengthening of Tobacco Control Efforts Through Innovative Partnerships and

5R01AI084315-02 (PI: Dandona)
National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases Strategies Project (STEPS): to reduce the health and economic burdens of tobacco in India, especially among the poor and vulnerable sections of the population, through multi-level initiatives intended to strengthen the implementation of the Indian national legislation fortobacco control and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), supported by policy and program relevant research, evidence based advocacy and partnerships among relevant stakeholders and change agents.

Assessment of HIV Incidence and its Determinants in a Population-Based Longitudinal Study
The goal of this research is to provide empirical data for the first time in India on the incidence of HIV and its determinants at the population level through a longitudinal study. This study will be conducted in a representative population-based sample of over 12,600 adult men and women from rural and urban parts of Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. We will conduct a 5-year follow-up of this cohort to estimate new HIV, HSV-2 and syphilis infections and ascertain the determinants of HIV incidence and the transmission dynamics at the individual, partnership and broader levels.

Trainee Housing & Safety:

PHFI assists scholars in finding apartments in the nearby neighborhood areas. The monthly expense for a decent accommodation on rent ranges between 500-600 USD plus expenses on cable television, Internet access, water, and electricity. Also, the scholars may use cheap public transport or could arrange for daily pick-up service at their convenience.

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