Dr. Ian Toma Selected as 2016-2018 Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar for Education and Research Project in Moldova
Congratulations to Ian Toma, M.D., MSHS ’04, Ph.D.‘11, associate research professor of clinical research and leadership and medicine at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), who was selected as a Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar to facilitate bioinformatics and genomics education and to conduct a research project in Moldova.
Toma will collaborate with the State University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Moldova (SUMPH) to develop an educational program in bioinformatics and genomics for medical students, residents, and local scientists. Genomics and bioinformatics are at the forefront of molecular medicine and public health fields. By developing this program, Toma will not only help raise the capacity of SUMPH in this area, but also foster the collaboration of students, faculty, and scientists with GW and other international partners.
Toma will also initiate a joint SUMPH/SMHS research collaboration between faculty and scientists on genomic aspects of tuberculosis (TB) and its multidrug resistant (MDR-TB) forms. The project, titled “MDR-TB Results from Unmasking of Resistant Strains from the Total Mycobacteria Population by Antibiotics,” will look at the genomic profiles of patients diagnosed with TB and strains isolated from patients in Moldova. Genomic profiles of patients along with presence of resistant strains among the initially diagnosed cases could be used to adjust the treatment regimen of these patients. Moldova is one of 18 high-priority countries in Europe for TB control. As a major health challenge, improved diagnostics and effective treatment of TB are desperately needed. The goal of this research is to create an accurate and simple genomic test to determine how the patients respond to treatment and whether patients are at risk to develop the MDR-TB forms, which are often missed and hard to diagnose.
“I am very honored to become a Fulbrighter and will do my best to represent the best U.S. practices and knowledge with my projects, which are the main objectives of the award” said Toma. “Re-focusing my research interests on TB will be a challenge, but if I could contribute any knowledge to the worldwide efforts in combating this disease, the efforts will be very worthwhile. I hope these projects will open us up to further international collaboration in relevant fields of medicine such as infectious diseases, TB & AIDS, which are major global health problems requiring joint efforts to reduce their death toll.”
The brainchild of GW alumnus and U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, LLB ’34, the U.S. Core Fulbright Scholar Program provides funding for study and research abroad in a range of disciplines. Today, GW is regularly placed among the top producers of Fulbright scholars.
The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries, and it is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. This year, on August 1, the Fulbright Association is celebrating 70 years since its inception and the 39th Annual Conference will take place at GW on November 13-16, 2016. More information is available at http://fulbright.org/2016conference/.