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South Asia


U.S.-India Fund

For over three decades, the United States and India have had a robust cooperative relationship in science and technology. In large part, this relationship has been guided by the respective governments and fueled by the U.S.-India Fund and its predecessor, the P.L.-480 program. Under the auspices of the P.L.-480 program, the United States Government used U.S.-owned Indian rupees to support scientific, technological, educational, and cultural activities involving the two countries. These rupees were the result of payments made to the U.S. by the Indian Government in the 1950s and 1960s for grain sales. In 1986, the remaining rupees were rolled into one single fund, the U.S.-India Fund (USIF), and allocated to individual technical agencies on an annual basis. The administration of this fund was the responsibility of the Department of State and the Science Office in the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. The USIF provided the framework and the funds for a mutually beneficial Science and Technology (S&T) relationship over the last ten years. Hundreds of S&T projects were initiated with funds from the USIF involving American and Indian scientists in all fields of science and technology. Since 1987, the NIH has administered over 35 research projects and workshops in a wide variety of biomedical research topics, including oral cancer, blindness prevention, nuclear magnetic resonance, infectious diseases, and contraceptive development. The USIF Program had its last year of competition in 1996 and the scheduled end of this program is January 1998, when all rupees will have been disbursed.

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Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program (VAP)

Begun in 1987, the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program (VAP) was designed to accommodate a broad spectrum of activities relating to immunization. Under the VAP, U.S. and Indian scientists carry out collaborative research projects directed toward the development and implementation of new vaccines and diagnostics. In addition to conducting research, the VAP has held a series of workshops on a number of important topics. Money to support the VAP has come from three primary sources: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Indian Department of Biotechnology; and the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The U.S. VAP Secretariat is located within the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

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Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS

Approximately 33.6 million are living with HIV infection or AIDS and more than 16,000 people become infected each day. Asia is predicted to have the most serious epidemic unfolding in the next few years. Given these statistics, there is need for continued progress toward the prevention and control of the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) through improved surveillance, prevention research, vaccine research and development, technology transfer, and health sciences research.

The Joint Statement between the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) is intended to initiate a range of HIV/AIDS and STD prevention research efforts, including behavioral prevention strategies and epidemiological and operational research on HIV/AIDS and STDs, including surveillance, STD treatment, and reproductive health. Collaborating institutions include the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Fogarty International Center (FIC). On the Indian side, the collaborating agencies include the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). Collaboration under the Joint Statement will be coordinated with Indo-U.S. efforts pursued under earlier Joint Statements on "Contraceptive and Reproductive Health Research" and the "Vaccine Action Programme".

As one of the first activities, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Indian National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will develop new and culturally appropriate behavioral intervention strategies, methods, and measures that will be mutually beneficial. Some of the program areas where cooperation on research to develop and test effective HIV/AIDS and STD behavioral prevention programs include but are not limited to HIV/AIDS prevention programs, basic behavioral and social research, and assessment of HIV associated neuro-behavioral consequences. This collaboration is expected to include training, collaborative research projects, expert consultations, and laboratory strengthening.

Executive Summary from the U.S.-Indo Conference on HIV/AIDS Prevention Research held in Chennai, India January 11-12, 2000

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Indo-US Collaboration on Maternal and Child Health and Human Development Research

Although the health of women, children and adolescents has improved significantly in both countries, it is recognized that important research questions remain to help achieve additional reductions in morbidity and mortality. Building on a thirty-year history of maternal and child health research cooperation, India and the United States now agree to enhance this cooperation through an expanded program of Maternal and Child Health and Human Development Research.

Over forty-five percent of females in India today are in the reproductive age group and the population of India is expected to continue increasing during the next several decades, as is the number of children and adolescents within the population. In the United States, there are also ongoing concerns about further improving the health of women of childbearing age, children and adolescents.

Many of the above mentioned problems are common to both the countries and hence collaborative research in these areas will be of benefit to people of both countries.

Building on a history of productive biomedical and behavioral research collaboration, this cooperation will be based on mutual benefit, trust, and a shared commitment to the advancement of scientific knowledge and its application to improve health.

Specific areas to be addressed within this program include but are not limited to prevention and treatment of leading causes of maternal, neonatal and pediatric morbidity and mortality, maternal and child nutrition and the role of micronutrients in healthy child bearing, and reproductive health including socio-behavioral aspects, birth practices, and development and evaluation of newer contraceptives.

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NIH Activities in India

NIH builds research capacity and collaborative research opportunities in India through investigator-initiated grants, direct financial and technical support for a primate research center in Mumbai, bilateral Joint Working Groups established under Indo-U.S. agreements, and targeted workshops and research training activities.

Current NIH Agreements:

  • Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program: established in 1987 to develop vaccines for priority diseases, and renewed in May 2007 during Dr. Zerhouni's meeting with DBT Secretary Bhan (NIAID).
  • HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Program: established in 2000 and renewed in 2006 to promote extramural and intramural collaborations in prevention research, workshops, and other (OAR).
  • Maternal and Child Health Research Program: established in 2000 and renewed in 2006 to promote research areas related to maternal and child health and development (NICHD).
  • Indo-U.S. Contraceptive Research Program: established in 1997 to promote contraceptive development and reproductive health research (NICHD).
  • Indo-U.S. Joint Statement on the Development of Low-Cost, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Medical Technologies: established in October 2007 to expand collaborative research (NIBIB).
  • Indo-U.S. Letter of Intent on Translational Research: signed in October 2007 (OD).
  • Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Vision Research: established in 2005 to expand collaboration (NEI).
  • International Center of Excellence in Research: established in 2003, Letter of Intent signed in 2007 with a focus on Tuberculosis Research (NIAID).
  • Indo-U.S. Brain Research Program: Letter of Intent established in 1999 to promote neuroscience and mental health research (NIMH).
  • Indo-U.S. Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease and Disease Surveillance Program: established in 1997 by CDC, renewed in 2005 (CDC with NIAID involvement).
  • Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Environmental and Occupational Health: established in 2002 and renewed in 2006 for collaborative research and training. (CDC with NIEHS involvement).

  • NIH Visiting Program:

    As of September 2007, there were 303 Indian researchers on the NIH campus, including Visiting Fellows, Visiting Scientists, Volunteers, and Guest Researchers. The majority of these researchers are Visiting Fellows that are here at NIH for 2-5 year assignments. For the past several years, the overall number of visiting Indian researchers has been in the top five countries, when compared to the overall number of foreign researchers from any other country worldwide. Although many of these Visiting Fellows return to India after their experiences at NIH, a substantial percentage does not repatriate. The Government of India and the Fogarty International Center have been working together to attract Visiting Fellows back to India through various innovative opportunities and funding mechanisms.

    NIH Extramural Activities:

    Several NIH ICs provide funding to an expanding number of research projects in India, through several of NIH's peer-review mechanisms. Recipients of these grants, contracts, and supplements are distributed throughout India and cover a wide range of cutting edge research priorities established by NIH, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. As of September 2007, 19 Institutes, 4 Centers, and 2 Offices within NIH support existing collaborations with counterparts in India.

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    As with India, research cooperation between the United States and Pakistan has been supported in part by the P.L.-480 program. While the program has largely ended, there are a few outstanding projects. These include collaboration between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rawalpindi, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in Karachi, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) with the Aga Khan University.

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