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Open Access Research article

Innovations in nutrition education and global health: the Bangalore Boston nutrition collaborative

Rebecca Kuriyan1*, Jeffrey K Griffiths2, Julia L Finkelstein3, Tinku Thomas1, Tony Raj1, Ronald J Bosch4, Anura V Kurpad1 and Christopher Duggan5

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Nutrition, St. John’s Research Institute, St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Sarjapur Road, Bangalore 560034, INDIA

2 Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

3 Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

4 Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

5 Division of GI/Nutrition, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:5  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-5

Published: 8 January 2014

Abstract

Background

India has a wide range of nutrition and health problems which require professionals with appropriate skills, knowledge and trans-disciplinary collaborative abilities to influence policy making at the national and global level.

Methods

The Bangalore Boston Nutrition Collaborative (BBNC) was established as collaboration between St. John’s Research Institute (SJRI), Harvard School of Public Health and Tufts University, with a focus on nutrition research and training. The goals of the BBNC were to conduct an interdisciplinary course, develop web-based courses and identify promising Indian students and junior faculty for graduate training in Boston.

Results

From 2010, an annual two-week short course in nutrition research methods was conducted on the SJRI campus taught by international faculty from Indian and US universities. More than 100 students applied yearly for approximately 30 positions. The course had didactic lectures in the morning and practical hands-on sessions in the afternoon. Student rating of the course was excellent and consistent across the years. The ratings on the design and conduct of the course significantly improved (p <0.001) from 2010 to 2012. Through open-ended questions, students reported the main strengths of the course to be the excellent faculty and practical “hands-on” sessions. A web based learning system TYRO, was developed, which can be used for distance learning. Four faculty members/graduate students from SJRI have visited Boston for collaborative research efforts.

Conclusion

The BBNC has become a well-established capacity building and research training program for young professionals in nutrition and global health. Efforts are ongoing to secure long term funding to sustain and expand this collaboration to deliver high quality nutrition and global health education enabled by information and communication technologies.

Keywords:
Nutrition; Global Health; Education; Training; Research