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Vol. IV No. 21   ·   2 February 2001 


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Child health issues worldwide focus of new SPH program

By David J. Craig

BU's School of Public Health enhanced its visibility worldwide recently by hiring several scientists involved in the Applied Research on Child Health (ARCH) Project, an international research effort formerly based at Harvard University's Institute for International Development.


Jonathon Simon, an SPH associate professor of international health, (left) and Donald Thea, an SPH professor of international health, lead BU's ARCH Project, which conducts research on child mortality and morbidity around the world. Photo by Vernon Doucette


ARCH, which currently supports more than 50 public health studies in 14 countries, now will be centered at SPH's international health department. The program collaborates with social and biomedical scientists in underdeveloped nations on research projects aimed at reducing childhood mortality and morbidity.

The ARCH team is led by Jonathon Simon, an SPH associate professor of international health, director of BU's Center for International Health, and ARCH's principal investigator, and Donald M. Thea, an SPH professor of international health and the project's scientific director. They and seven colleagues, all formerly of Harvard, as well as support staff, assumed active roles at SPH February 1.

"The arrival of Doctors Simon, Thea, and their colleagues increases the University's visibility as a leader in international health and complements the work of the international health department at the School of Public Health," says BU President Jon Westling. "Students will be the true beneficiaries of this renowned group."

The ARCH program offers research grants, training, and technical assistance to social and biomedical scientists in developing countries to "stimulate and support applied research on priority child health issues," such as acute respiratory infections, diarrheal disease, malaria, malnutrition, and micronutrient deficiency, according to its literature. Research funded by ARCH has led to the publication of more than 200 articles and several books.

ARCH also sponsors workshops and conferences pertaining to child health issues, such as a 10-day conference in Zambia last month on child malaria and relevant government policies in that nation.

The program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Health and Nutrition and the National Institutes of Health. ARCH collaborates with the New England Medical Center, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, and other international health organizations. Simon says the group is also looking to work with researchers at the Boston Medical Center.

Simon, whose research interests include disease intervention and health and development in urban slums, joined the Harvard Institute for International Development in 1986 and has been directing the ARCH Project since 1994.

"For ARCH, this is an opportunity to further develop an applied research program in a school deeply committed to serving the world's underserved populations," says Simon. "We look forward to developing an expanded network of colleagues at the School of Public Health and Boston Medical Center."

Thea, who has been conducting research on pediatric HIV infection in the United States and around the world for more than 10 years, also is the principal investigator of the Zambia Exclusive Breast Feeding Study (ZEBS), a National Institutes of Health-funded project investigating the links between modes of breast feeding and perinatal transmission of HIV in Zambia.

Other ARCH researchers who joined the SPH faculty are Elizabeth Burleigh, a research associate professor of international health, Kris Heggenhougen, a professor of international health, William MacLeod, an assistant professor of international health, Mubiana Macwan'gi, a research associate, Sydney Rosen, an assistant professor of international health, Angela Wakhweya, an assistant professor of international health, and researcher Davidson H. Hamer, who has yet to be given an official title.

To learn more about ARCH, call 414-1260.


2 February 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations