MSU scientists share research know-how at health symposium in Southeast Asia


In November 2023, Qing Xia, Ph.D., and Ramjee Ghimire, Ph.D., returned to East Lansing, Mich., following the four-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Health Symposium in Thailand. Other Spartans – Furqan Irfan, Ph.D., MBBS (M.D.); Ned Walker, Ph.D.; Sara Steenrod, Ph.D.; and Lori Bramble – presented virtually.

At the symposium, “Fostering Transdisciplinary Collaborations at the Nexus of Climate and Health for Global Environmental Change Research – A Way Forward,” these MSU faculty and staff helped train more than 70 researchers and practitioners of public health, animal health and environmental health from Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Vietnam and other southeast Asian countries to bolster transdisciplinary research throughout the region in order to improve health security around the world.

“These scientists are expected to apply for funding from institutions in the U.S., such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], the National Science Foundation [NSF], and the National Institutes of Health [NIH], as well as other funding agencies around the world,” said Dr. Xia, who specializes in interdisciplinary team building in global health research and professional development and serves as the associate director for Global Health Education and Research at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Institute for Global Health.

At ASEAN, Dr. Irfan presented two talks: “U.S. Innovation Ecosystem,” which taught participants how to pursue seed funding for research from the NIH, Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer and MedTech Accelerator Spartan Innovations, and “Developing and Fostering International Collaborations,” which shared a range of experiences and recommendations for developing new research relationships throughout the world.

“I explained the agencies’ goals and showed the different funding available, as well as how the programs differ,” explained Dr. Irfan, an associate professor and director of Research Development at the Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine. “An important takeaway is that if you have any ideas or technology and you want access to these types of funding, get a U.S. research partner, and they can apply.”

Dr. Xia said the symposium also covered NIH and NSF grant advice, budget preparation, grant application processes, including grant administration, team collaboration, and technology transfer and entrepreneurship, among other topics, such as “Proposal Writing and Funding Opportunities: Process and Elements of Grant Proposals and Funding,” presented by Dr. Ghimire, who serves as a specialist for Global Outreach and Network in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as an adjunct faculty at the Institute for Global Health and the director and principal investigator of the Mekong One Health Innovation Program (MOHIP) within MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We shared a lot about how we conduct research at MSU to create research teams and start with internal funding opportunities that can build momentum for larger grants,” Dr. Xia explained. “One Health is one of the U.S. Department of State’s strategies for global health security. We’re all working to bring players from different sectors together to share information and know-how.”

As lead investigators of MOHIP, Dr. Irfan, Dr. Ghimire and Dr. Xia understand the value of events like ASEAN and how Michigan State is a natural fit. “MSU has a heavy presence there – currently, we’re the face of One Health in the ASEAN region,” Dr. Irfan said.


By E. LaClear