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Apia Samoa

Site Institution: Samoa Ministry of Health
U.S. Institution: Yale University
Research Areas: Epigenetics, Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases, Perinatal Epidemiology

Site Description:
The Yale University/Samoa Ministry of Health Collaborative Research Center provides training opportunities in perinatal epidemiology and non-communicable chronic diseases, in a population that has some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world. The center was started under the coordination of Dr. Satupaitea Viali of the National University of Samoa and Dr. Nicola Hawley, Associate Professor at Yale University. Drs. Viali and Hawley have been colleagues since 2009, establishing their collaboration on a study of the genetic origins of adult non-communicable diseases. Since that initial work, they have extended their research program to study non-communicable and infectious diseases in childhood and explore how obesity, diabetes, and hypertension impact maternal pregnancy health and offspring health outcomes. With the support of mentors, this site has provided training to more than 30 undergraduate, MPH and PhD students over the past 10 years, in both short- and long-term placements. Dr. Hawley herself began her postdoctoral career at this site under the mentorship of Professor Stephen McGarvey (Brown University) and Dr. Viali. She is now a productive mid-career faculty member at the Yale School of Public Health with an international reputation for her work in Samoa and other Pacific settings on non-communicable diseases.

Recent GHES Projects:
  • Reproductive health and cardiometabolic risk among Samoan women (PI: Oyama, MD/PhD student, Yale)
  • Contributions of school nutritional and physical activity environments to childhood obesity risk (PI: Choy, Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale)
  • Impact of physical activity on women’s physical and mental health in Samoa (PI: Rivara, Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale)

Ongoing Site Projects:
  • Longitudinal cohort studies of cardiometabolic risk in infancy, childhood, and adulthood
  • Contributions of the gut microbiome and human milk composition to infant adiposity
  • The role of genetics and environment in cognitive resilience
  • Factors influencing engagement in care among those with type 2 diabetes