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Yale Faculty Networks Honored with 2022 Hecht Awards

June 12, 2022
by Pam Johnson

Projects examining climate change and urban health, substance use disorder and mental health, and the relationship between food insecurity and hypertension have been selected as the recipients of this year’s Hecht Global Health Faculty Network Awards issued annually by the Yale Institute for Global Health (YIGH).

The awards, which provide up to $50,000 in funding to the faculty network teams behind each project, are intended to support and encourage collaborative new initiatives addressing global health. Faculty from the Yale Schools of Public Health, Medicine, Nursing, Environment and Architecture are represented among the 2022 winners.

Established in 2015, the Hecht Global Health Faculty Network Awards have seeded a growing number of projects, acting as a catalyst for further study and funding of projects designed to improve population health and well-being around the world.

“Over the past few years, the YIGH Faculty Network program has seen significant growth and we now have a portfolio of networks tackling some of the greatest global health challenges,” said Dr. Jeremy Schwartz, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and YIGH Faculty Network Development Leader. “The Hecht Global Health Faculty Network Award has provided a great incentive and structure for networks to coalesce around innovative and important ideas.”

A committee of YIGH-affiliated faculty selected the following projects for a 2022 Hecht award:

Resilient Cities Network and Yale University: Building a Collaborative Partnership at the Intersection of Climate and Health to Identify Urban Health and Health Equity Solutions Project Team: Jeannette Ickovics, Robert Dubrow, Sarah Lowe, Kathleen O'Connor Duffany, YSPH; David Vlahov, YSN; Karen Seto, YSoE; Elihu Rubin, YSoA. Network: Planetary Health Network

Working with the Resilient Cities Network (representing nearly 100 cities worldwide and 220 million urban dwellers), Yale Planetary Solutions-affiliated faculty, together with students from Yale Schools of Public Health, Nursing, Environment and Architecture will identify health priorities, resources and gaps in cities, with the explicit goal of improving health and health equity while addressing climate resilience. By partnering with the world’s leading urban resilience network, Yale will work to promote new research and programs in global health, generate new interdisciplinary work to address health inequities and develop scalable strategies and policies to improve health.

Substance Use and Mental Health of Forced Migrants in Jordan and in the United States: A Pilot Study Project Team: Kaveh Khoshnood, YSPH; Jeanette Tetrault, YSM. Network: Yale Global Addiction Network

Faced with the availability of illicit drugs in camps rife with difficult living conditions, extreme challenges, exposure to exploitation and mental, physical and sexual abuse, studies show comorbidity of substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health disorders (MHD) occur frequently among forced migrants and refugees. However, epidemiological evidence for prevalence, prevention, and intervention considerations among displaced people is still poorly understood. Working with the Yale Global Addiction Network, faculty from the Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine will lead a systematic review of SUD and MHD among forced migrants in Jordan, ranked second among refugee host countries, and the U.S. Together with a qualitative study, results will guide the team’s intent to apply for an R01 grant application to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Yale researchers are showing that they are on the cutting edge of rigorous analysis that leads to positive changes in people's lives.

Robert Hecht, B.A. '76

Prevalence of Food Insecurity at Hypertension Clinics in Kingston, Jamaica Project Team: Carol Oladele, YSM; Mayur Desai, YSPH; Marshall Tulloch-Reid, Nadia Bennett, University of West Indies. Network: Yale Network for Global NCDs (NGN).

Hypertension is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Caribbean region and creates a significant healthcare system burden. While food insecurity has been implicated as an issue in both the development and poor management of certain diet-sensitive chronic conditions, few studies have investigated the relationship between food insecurity and hypertension, even as existing knowledge recognizes the role of diet in hypertension. Together with the Yale Network for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) faculty will collaborate with investigators at the Caribbean Institute for Health Research/University of West Indies to study the association between food insecurity and hypertension among clinic patients. Data and evidence will contribute to information interventions across the region and help to identify new strategies for improved blood pressure control among patients.

The Hecht Awards were created with a generous endowment from Robert Hecht, B.A. ’76, a professor of clinical epidemiology at YSPH, and an affiliated faculty member at YIGH and Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

"It is exciting and gratifying to see such high-quality global health research proposals from Yale faculty being funded by the Hecht Awards,” said Hecht. “With this year's awards covering innovative topics like climate change and urban health, hypertension and diet/food insecurity, and substance abuse and mental health among refugees, Yale researchers are showing that they are on the cutting edge of rigorous analysis that leads to positive changes in people's lives."

Submitted by Colin Poitras on June 12, 2022