2016 Update: A Lasting Solution for Healthcare in Mozambique

Mozambique highlighted on a map of Africa There is a critical shortage of practicing doctors and medical educators in Mozambique, where the life expectancy is less than 42 years and the rate of HIV infection in adults is 16%. UC San Diego is teaming with the nation’s flagship medical school to create a long-term solution.

Mozambique’s Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) and UCSD have won a five-year, $12.5-million award from the U.S. Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The project will strengthen the nation’s medical education system by building infrastructure in several ways.


“We hope this will be a demonstration project for the rest of Africa.”
— Dr. Robert Schooley


Dr. Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, a co-investigator on the UCSD-UEM MEPI project.UEM’s principal investigator is Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, MD, PhD, a former dean of the UEM School of Medicine. Dr. Noormahomed (pictured at left) is now Assistant Professor of Parasitology at UEM and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego.

Sam Patel, MD, Professor of Medicine at UEM and UC San Diego, is a co-investigator. In the photo below, he is pictured on the right.

View photo captions and credits

Dr. Bill Detmer, at left, demonstrates iPad mobile digital device preloaded with medical programs for doctors’ use in the hospital. Dr. Manuel Joaquim Tomás is at center and Dr. Sam Patel at right. Sam Patel, M.D., co-investigator on the MEPI project, is Professor of Medicine at UEM and UCSD. Bill Detmer, M.D., M.Sc., a MEPI project consultant, is Assistant Adjunct Professor of Clinical Informatics at the University of Virginia and President and Chief Executive Officer of Unbound Medicine.

MEPI is a joint initiative of the National Institutes of Health and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Under the MEPI program, UEM receives the bulk of the funding and uses it to build capacity in medical training, research, and technology.

A smaller amount of funding comes directly to UC San Diego, supporting time and travel for the partners and mentors who will help UEM meet its goals.

M. Wilson Tilghman, M.D., UCSD’s on-site faculty member in Mozambique, consults with a UEM internal medicine resident at a patient’s bedside. Instituting the use of wirelessly-accessed medical reference material in the hospital is one of the UCSD-UEM project goals.“This is an experiment in medical education for UEM and for the U.S. government,” said Robert “Chip” Schooley, MD, who is coordinating the UC San Diego side of the project. “It puts the funding into the hands of the African universities and allows them to invest it in ways that are beneficial to them.”

Dr. Schooley is Professor and Academic Affairs Vice Chair in the Department of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.

“I’m hopeful this will become a model for other kinds of aid,” he said.

Dr. Schooley and colleague Constance Benson, MD, have long experience in partnering with Mozambique and other African nations, and they have collaborated with Dr. Noormahomed in research projects for several years. Dr. Benson is Professor of Medicine, Director of the UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center, and Director of the Fellowship Program in Infectious Diseases.

The UEM-UCSD MEPI project expands some of the educational efforts that have been going on since July 2009 in the Internal Medicine Residency Program’s Global Medicine elective.

UC San Diego’s visiting faculty and residents have helped UEM adopt academic medical practices such as morning report and teaching conferences that strengthen the educational program.

MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo.

MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo.

The MEPI partnership relies heavily on biomedical informatics to accomplish its goals. This component of the program is led by Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of UC San Diego’s Division of Biomedical Informatics. The division will provide expertise for the partnership’s information technology projects.

Dr. Kathy Promer, a 2013 graduate of the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Program, is the current infectious diseases fellow at UC San Diego on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital. In the photo below, she is standing, second from the right.

Dr. Kathy Promer (standing, second from the right), 2013 Graduate of the UCSD Internal Medicine Program and current infectious diseases fellow at UCSD on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital.

Smartphones and iPad mobile digital devices have been deployed on the wards at Maputo Central Hospital, UEM’s primary teaching hospital and the only tertiary care center in Mozambique. With these devices, the Mozambican doctors are able for the first time to consult online medical literature at a patient’s bedside. Soon they will have immediate access to data generated by the hospital’s clinical laboratories.

“These efforts really have changed the character of the residency program at Maputo Central Hospital,” said Dr. Schooley.

Through training and partnership with UC San Diego, UEM will also increase its capacity to do operational, epidemiological, translational and clinical research. Another program goal calls for UEM to set up a biomedical informatics infrastructure and connect with SEACOM, the new fiber optic broadband internet service in South and East Africa.

Students in UEM medical school class.UEM will also take steps to enhance its support of two new medical schools recently established by the Mozambican government in Nampula and Tete. These two new medical schools were launched in the past 3 years to address the profound shortage of physicians in the country.

Another key UC San Diego figure in the project is Stephen Bickler, MD, who will work to improve the nation’s surgical capacity in rural areas via a linked MEPI project, “UEM-UCSD Surgery Partnership.” Dr. Bickler is Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics.

A number of other UC San Diego faculty members will contribute to the MEPI effort as well.

Medical school class   UCSD internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl

Above left, a medical school class at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. Right, Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital. Dr. Karl graduated from the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Program in 2010 and is currently a nephrology attending. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, MD

Project leaders expect to double the number of graduating doctors in Mozambique in the next 10 years. They also hope to inspire more doctors to devote their careers to medical education.

With a greater number of highly-trained doctors and a better infrastructure to support them, Mozambique will increase its capacity to deliver health care to its citizens and to fill the faculties of two new medical schools in Nampula and Tete.

The doctors training today in Mozambique will be the specialists, medical school faculty members, and government Ministry of Health policymakers of the future.

“We hope this will be a demonstration project for the rest of Africa,” Dr. Schooley said.

Read the UC San Diego News press release about our MEPI project.

Read about the project in “The Great Beyond,” Nature magazine’s blog
for breaking news in the sciences.


Photo Captions and Credits:

Dr. Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, co-principal investigator on the UCSD-UEM MEPI project.Dr. Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, co-principal investigator on the UC San Diego-UEM MEPI project. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

Drs. Detmer, Tomás, and PatelDr. Bill Detmer, left, demonstrates iPad mobile digital device preloaded with medical programs for doctors’ use in the hospital. Dr. Manuel Joaquim Tomás is at center and Dr. Sam Patel at right. Sam Patel, MD, co-investigator on the MEPI project, is Professor of Medicine at UEM and UC San Diego. William M. Detmer, MD, MSc, a MEPI project consultant, is Assistant Adjunct Professor of Clinical Informatics at the University of Virginia and President and Chief Executive Officer of Unbound Medicine. Photo courtesy of Dr. Detmer.

Dr. Tilghman and Mozambican residentM. Wilson Tilghman, MD, UC San Diego’s on-site faculty member in Mozambique, consults with a UEM internal medicine resident at a patient’s bedside. Instituting the use of wirelessly-accessed medical reference material in the hospital is one of the UC San Diego-UEM project goals. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, MD.

MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo. MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo. From left: Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD; Eli Aronoff-Spencer, MD, senior postdoctoral fellow in infectious diseases at UC San Diego; Eng. David Bila, Network Director for the Informatics Center at UEM; Heimar de Fátima Marin, RN, PhD, Professor of Health Informatics at Universidade Federal de São Paulo; and Eng. Francisco Mabila, Director of the Informatics Center at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

Dr. Kathy Promer (standing, second from the right), is a 2013 graduate of the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Program and is the current infectious diseases fellow at UC San Diego on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital.

Students in a medical school class at UEM.Students in a medical school class at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

A medical school class at UEM.A medical school class at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

UCSD internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital.UC San Diego internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, MD.

Trademark Credit Notices:

iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

No. 1 From the Start

UC San Diego Bioengineering ranked first by National Research Council since founding 50 years ago —

Bioengineers at UC San Diego have helped us understand why atherosclerosis develops and how it is impacted by blood flow. They have pioneered the development of very thin, small and flexible sensors that stick to the skin and monitor vital signs, such as the brain activity of a newborn. They also developed injectable hydrogels that can help muscle tissues heal after a heart attack.

Researchers celebrated their achievements over the past five decades and looked to the future during a three-day 50th anniversary celebration May 19 to 21. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Shu Chien, PhD

Shu Chien, PhD

The founding chair of the UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering is Shu Chien, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Physiology and Professor of Bioengineering. He is founding director of the UC San Diego Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

Dr. Chien is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among many honorific societies, and he received the Franklin Institute Award in November 2015.

Short Overnight Fasting Linked to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Researchers suggest increasing duration of nightly fasting may improve prognosis —

In patients with breast cancer, a short overnight fast of less than 13 hours was associated with a statistically significant, 36 percent higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and a non-significant, 21 percent higher probability of death from the disease compared to patients who fasted 13 or more hours per night, report University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers.

The study, publishing online in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology on March 31 … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Remote Italian Village Could Harbor Secrets of Healthy Aging

Researchers will examine 300 Italian residents, all over 100 years old —

The average life expectancy in the United States is approximately 78 years old. Americans live longer, with better diets and improved health care, than ever before, but only 0.02 percent will hit the century mark.

To understand how people can live longer throughout the world, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have teamed up with colleagues at University of Rome La Sapienza to study a group of 300 citizens, all over 100 years old, living in a remote Italian village nestled between the ocean and mountains on the country’s coast.

“We are the first group of researchers to be given permission to study this population in Acciaroli, Italy,” said Alan Maisel, MD … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Altman Clinical and Translational Research Building Makes Its Debut

New structure will be campus hub for advancing basic science to clinical applications —

Rising above Interstate 5 on the east campus of UC San Diego, the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Building (ACTRI) officially opened its doors Friday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony under blue skies.

The new seven-story building of steel, glass and grooved concrete is home to the Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) at UC San Diego, established in 2010 as part of a national consortium of 60 medical research institutions created to energize bench-to-bedside efforts. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Countdown To Twin Astronaut’s Return – UC San Diego Readies Next Steps in Landmark Study

Study of identical twin astronauts advances NASA’s preparations for mission to Mars —

When astronaut Scott Kelly returns to Earth on March 1, half of NASA’s first-of-its-kind study of twin astronauts and long duration space flight, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and elsewhere will launch the mission’s next phase.

UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers are part of a national collaboration between NASA’s Human Research Program, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and 10 investigative teams around the country, all seeking to better understand the effects of extended space travel by analyzing blood, urine and other samples from identical twin astronauts, Scott and Mark Kelly. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHA

Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHA

Kumar Sharma, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, is a collaborator in the NASA twins study.

Dr. Sharma is Director of the Institute of Metabolomic Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Identical Twin Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly. Credit: NASA.

Identical Twin Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly.
Credit: NASA.

Drs. Shu Chien, Shaochen Chen Report Creation of in Vitro Liver Tissue Model Using Novel Bioprinting Technology

A team led by engineers at the University of California, San Diego has 3D-printed a tissue that closely mimics the human liver’s sophisticated structure and function. The new model could be used for patient-specific drug screening and disease modeling. The work was published the week of Feb. 8 in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Shu Chien, MD, PhD

Shu Chien, MD, PhD. Photo courtesy of Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego.

Shu Chien, MD, PhD, co-senior author of the study report in PNAS, is founding chair of the UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering and director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

In the Department of Medicine, he is Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Physiology.

Dr. Chien is a world-renowned researcher and inventor who has conducted pioneering investigations in atherosclerosis and hypertension. His work has brought about significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Read the abstract of the PNAS report

Read more about the biofabrication technology used to create the liver model

Distinguished Professor Shu Chien Elected Fellow of National Academy of Inventors

December 15, 2015

Two researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have been named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Shu Chien, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and Medicine, and Michael Sailor, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, were among 168 new fellows announced by the academy today.. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Shu Chien, MD, PhD

Shu Chien, MD, PhD. Photo courtesy of Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego.

Shu Chien, MD, PhD, is a world-renowned researcher and inventor who has conducted pioneering investigations in atherosclerosis and hypertension. His work has brought about significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Chien is founding chair of the UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering and director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine. In the Department of Medicine, he is Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Physiology.

Earlier in 2015, Dr. Chen was selected to receive the prestigious Franklin Institute Award and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Professor Shu Chien Receives Prestigious Franklin Institute Award

November 16, 2015

Philadelphia, Nov. 12, 2015 – Shu Chien, founding chair of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, where is he currently a professor and director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, has received the prestigious Franklin Institute Award.

The award is conferred by the Philadelphia-based Franklin Institute. It has gone in previous years to an extraordinary list of great men and women who have significantly improved our world with their pioneering innovations, including Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Jacques Cousteau, and more recently Jane Goodall, Dean Kamen and Bill Gates. … Read the full press release from the Jacobs School of Engineering


Shu Chien, MD, PhD

Shu Chien, MD, PhD. Photo courtesy of Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego.

In addition to his leadership roles in the Department of Bioengineering and the Institute of Engineering in MedicineShu Chien, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Physiology.

In a recent major development in his scientific explorations, Dr. Chien is one of four principal investigators in the organizational hub of the $30 million 4D Nucleome Research Centers and Organizational Hub grant the National Institutes of Health awarded to UC San Diego in October.

The goal of the project is to determine how DNA is arranged within the cell’s nucleus in four dimensions (three-dimensional space plus time) and how changes in that nuclear organization affect human health and disease.

More information about Dr. Chien and his work:

Forty-One Department of Medicine Physicians Named on San Diego’s 2015 “Top Doctors” List

This year’s San Diego Magazine/San Diego County Medical Society Top Doctors list includes 41 Department of Medicine faculty clinicians. View photo gallery