This proposal builds upon more than 15 years of successful US-Mongolia research collaborations in
developing an innovative research training program to build sustainable environmental and occupational
research capacity in Mongolia. In recent decades, Mongolia has experienced major economic and
environmental changes, and suffered from new environmental and occupational diseases. Countering these
health threats often requires interdisciplinary collaborations that will influence national policy. Duke University
and the Mongolian National University of Medial Sciences are well-positioned to meet these challenges,
especially those regarding the interactions of air pollution and respiratory viral infections which will be a major
research theme for this program. Our proposed Mongolian Center for Environmental & Occupational Health will
foster close collaborations between US and Mongolian environmental and occupational health professionals in
solving Mongolian’s complex health problems. The goal of this Center is to develop independent,
interdisciplinary, environmental and occupational health researchers. This U2R proposal outlines the training
components of the Center. The twin U01 proposal outline the research components of the Center. Regarding
U2R training, through a national search and a competitive process, we will screen and select five well-qualified
Mongolian candidates for fellowship training each year. Fellows must have appropriate previous training at the
PhD or MS level, must be committed to careers in research, and must be available fulltime for at least 15
months of financially supported training. The Administrative Oversight Committee will work with each Fellow in
identifying a US and a Mongolian Program Faculty member with whom the Fellow will develop an
interdisciplinary research project that is closely tied to U01 research. After preliminary online trainings are
completed and visas are obtained, each Fellow will travel to their US Faculty mentor’s laboratory for three
months of research training tailored for their project. After this training is complete the Fellows will return to
Mongolia and spend the next 12 months conducting their research project in Mongolia. In a capstone
experience Fellows will present their research to the External Advisory Committee at the Annual Mongolian
GEOHealth Hub Review. Afterwards they will return to their former employment but continue to work with their
Program Faculty mentors in publishing their work in international journals and in influencing Mongolian national
health policy. During the 15-months of formal training each Fellow will gain considerable training in conducting
laboratory assays, the responsible conduct of research, research reproducibility, human and animal subjects
research ethics, collecting field specimens. data analyses, delivering oral presentations, and in English
language scientific writing. The collective expertise of the interdisciplinary Program Faculty committed to this
Center will provide unique and valuable professional training for the Fellows and also greatly advance science
at participating Mongolian institutions.
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