About the Consortium

The VECD Consortium comprises four outstanding institutions – Vanderbilt (V), Emory (E), Cornell (C), and Duke (D) – with decades-long global partnerships with premier LMIC research institutions in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Collectively, VECDor’s well-funded research portfolio encompasses diverse and complementary topics in all relevant communicable and non-communicable diseases. VECDor institutions and faculty have a long history of global engagement, investigative accomplishment, and mentoring excellence, as demonstrated by high-impact global health discoveries by VECD trainees.

The VECD international partners are themselves outstanding research institutions based in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean. All sites conduct NIH-supported research and training and have published extensively in major journals.

Program Leadership:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Douglas C. Heimburger, MD, MS is a Professor of Medicine and the Associate Director for Education and Training at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH). He served on the Fogarty Advisory Board from 2004-8, and has been a leader of the Vanderbilt FICRS-F/VECD team since 2009, for which he currently serves as PI. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) he directed the NIH-funded Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program (CPCTP) for 20 years (1989-2009), supporting the training of 140 pre- and postdoctoral trainees in non-communicable disease research. He completed a Fulbright sabbatical in Zambia in 2006-7, conducting NIAID-supported research in malnourished Zambians starting antiretroviral therapy for HIV, leading to subsequent clinical trials and cohort studies.

Muktar Aliyu, MD, DrPH, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Medicine and Associate Director for Research at VIGH. He also holds joint appointments as Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Associate Director of the Occupational Medicine Residency Program at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Dr. Aliyu’s global health research is based primarily in Nigeria and Ghana. He is a renowned expert in HIV and implementation science work, focusing on novel packages of HIV PMTCT interventions and stroke prevention in children with sickle cell disease in Nigeria and Ghana. 

Emory University

K.M. Venkat Narayan, MD, MSc, MBA, is the Ruth and OC Hubert Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH), and a Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine at Emory University. He has an extensive record of global diabetes and NCD and population sciences research, including large cohort studies of diabetes, national surveillance, disease models, large randomized trials, and health services research globally, particularly in India. Dr. Narayan has trained over 100 investigators, was Emory “Mentor of Year” in 2011, and received the American Diabetes Association’s Kelly West award for outstanding scientific achievement. 

Usha Ramakrishnan, PhD, is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Global Health at RSPH and Director of the doctoral program in Nutrition and Health Sciences (NHS). She is widely recognized for expertise in maternal and child nutrition research, focused on the functional consequences of micronutrient malnutrition during pregnancy and early childhood. She works in several LMICs and has collaborated with INCAP, Guatemala since she joined Emory in 1994, as well as Mexico’s Insituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Public Health Foundation of India, and the Thai Nguyen University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Vietnam. Recent and ongoing work includes collaborations on projects to improve maternal and child health in India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia and to provide technical assistance for integrating nutrition and agriculture in India.

Weill Cornell Medical College

Daniel Fitzgerald, MD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at WCMC and Co-Director of the Center for Global Health. He chairs the Cornell International Education Committee that oversees international medical student electives. His major research activities, including a number of major clinical trials, are based in Haiti and focus on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and AIDS-related cervical cancer. Other interests include improving informed consent and empirical studies to inform ethical guidelines for the conduct of clinical research in resource-poor countries. Dr. Fitzgerald has spearheaded a global health research-training program in Haiti highly suitable for mentoring U.S and international physician-scientists with a focus on HIV, tuberculosis, nutrition, and related conditions.

Linnie Golightly, MD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Associate Dean of Diversity at Weill Cornell Medical College. As an African-American committed to enhancing diversity in research, mentoring new physician-scientists is a major focus of her career, including directing Cornell’s Infectious Disease Fellowship and hosting U.S. and LMIC trainees in her lab. Focusing on emerging infections such as malaria and dengue, her lab has developed methods to simultaneously differentiate multiple microbial pathogens, some in collaboration with the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) in Ghana, and GHESKIO in Haiti. 

Duke University

Nathan Thielman, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Global Health, based in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Duke U. Medical Center, and is Director of Duke’s Global Health Residency/ Fellowship Pathway. He serves as the US-based Director of Training for the Duke AITRP, is Clinical Site Leader for Duke’s ACTG and conducts research within the Center for AIDS Research and the Center for Health Inequalities and Policy Research. Dr. Thielman’s international research focuses on identifying and addressing barriers to HIV testing in Tanzania and the critical social, psychological and economic determinants of health outcomes among persons living with HIV. He has served on both the NIAID Advisory Council and its NIAID AIDS Research Advisory Committee.

Gerald Bloomfield, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Assistant Research Professor in Global Health. He is an alumnus of the FICRS-F program (2009-2010) and was one of the first fellows funded through this program with training in cardiovascular medicine. He launched heart failure research at Moi University in Kenya among HIV-positive and -negative patients, supported by an FIC K01 award that enabled him to spend approximately six months per year in Kenya in active pursuit of research and capacity building activities. He serves as a mentor for various training programs focused on global health.