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International Health at 50

International Health at 50 (continued)


The Department’s revolutionary research in public health nutrition continues a tradition of pioneering work in the field. Department nutrition researchers have made lifesaving discoveries demonstrating the importance of vitamin A, zinc and other nutrients in child and maternal health, disease prevention and survival. The findings, in many cases, have served as the impetus for national and international policy changes that have saved and improved the lives of millions.

1968: Carl Taylor coauthors the now-iconic WHO monograph, “Interactions of Nutrition and Infection” and subsequently demonstrates, in the Narangwal project, the cost-effectiveness of integrating nutrition services with maternal and child health care.

1968–76: George G. Graham’s Peru research establishes effective dietary approaches to treat and prevent infant malnutrition, as well as the link between copper deficiency and malnutrition. Graham founds the Division of Human Nutrition (now an academic program area within the Department).

1982–86: In the world’s first large field trial on vitamin A and child survival, Alfred Sommer and Keith West lead research in Aceh, Indonesia, showing that vitamin A reduces child mortality by 34 percent. The work spurs subsequent vitamin A trials that confirm the vitamin’s global impact on child survival.

1988–92: The Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project–Sarlahi (NNIPS) is established by Keith West, Joanne Katz, Steven LeClerq and colleagues in the Terai of Nepal. In the first trial of more than two decades of field research at this site, they show that vitamin A can reduce child mortality by 30 percent, stimulating a nationwide program and affirming the magnitude of its impact on child survival.

1990: Benjamin Caballero founds the Department’s Center for Human Nutrition as a home for multidisciplinary research to address and solve nutritional problems.

Early 1990s: Zinc trials in Bangladesh, India, Peru, Nepal and Zanzibar led by Robert Black show that zinc supplementation can both treat and prevent diarrhea, prevent pneumonia and reduce child mortality. In 2004, WHO and UNICEF recommend zinc for treatment of diarrhea.

2000–present: West, Alain Labrique, Parul Christian and Rolf Klemm set up the JiVitA nutrition and health research site in Bangladesh. A study among 16,000 infants finds that a single dose of vitamin A at birth reduces neonatal mortality by 15 percent.

2001–2011: Joel Gittelsohn and colleagues begin a series of trials—mainly in the U.S.—to improve the food environment and reduce risk for chronic disease by working with food stores and local institutions to offer healthier foods.

2006–2008: West, Christian, Katz and Tielsch lead follow-up trials with three NNIPS cohorts of children to reveal long-term effects of antenatal and childhood micronutrient supplements on early biomarkers of chronic disease risk, child cognition, hearing loss, and lung and immune function.

2010: Anna Durbin begins work with colleagues in Brazil to test the safety and efficacy of a tetravalent vaccine—the product of 10 years of clinical development at the CIR—against dengue.


  • Martin

    France 10/19/2011 04:18:03 PM

    It is surprising that the field of International Health makes virtually no mention of water, sanitation and hygiene. Is the ultimate message of IH simply that prevention is a waste of time and curative approaches are the only viable ones? I doubt that Carl Taylor would have endorsed that. In fact, the notion that "It's the people themselves who have to take ownership of their own health care" is probably very closely linked to the concept of "community led total sanitation". International Health needs to understand Environmental Health.

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Origins of International Health

Origins of International Health

He was there: Carl Taylor recalls the reasons behind the birth of what is now global health.

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