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NYS-ITRP Connections

About: Welcome


About: About
About: About
About: Team Members

Meet Our Graduating Trainees!

Spring 2017 - School of Public Health, University at Albany, SUNY

Olena Iakunchykova (Ukraine) is a graduate of National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Master’s Program in Health Care Management.  Prior to coming to the University at Albany she taught first-year students of Kyiv-Mohyla SPH Master program and consulted with Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine.  Olena completed her MS degree in Epidemiology and successfully defended her thesis on May 2.  Her thesis is titled “Hepatitis C Status Awareness and Test Results Confirmation Among People Who Inject Drugs in Ukraine.”

Assem Jiyessova (Kazakhstan) graduated from KIMEP University in Almaty, with a Master of Public Administration degree. Prior to attending the University at Albany, she served as an Administrative Specialist in the Project Implementation Unit of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, AIDS Component with the Republican Centre on Prevention and Control of AIDS in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  Assem is completing her MPH degree in August.

Anna Momotyuk (Ukraine) is a graduate of Teachers Training Institute, Kherson, Ukraine. Prior to coming to the University at Albany she served as Operations Coordinator for the Europe Bureau, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, in Kyiv.  Anna completed her MS in Epidemiology and successfully defended her thesis on May 2.   Her thesis is titled “Association Between Violence and HIV Among Female Commercial Sex Workers in Ukraine: Analysis of Bio-Behavioral Surveillance Conducted in 2015 – 2016.”

Bakhytkul Zhakipbayeva MD, PhD (Kazakhstan) is a graduate of Kazakh National Medical University. She completed her MS in Epidemiology and successfully defended her thesis on May 16th.  Her thesis is titled “Factors influencing quality of life of persons living with HIV in Almaty, Kazakhstan”. She is Professor of Epidemiology  , Kazakh National Medical University (KNMU), Almaty, Kazakhstan. Bakhytkul has a particular interest in tuberculosis epidemiology and TB/HIV coinfection.

Renewed Funding of the New York State International Training and Research Program!

We’re pleased to announce successful ongoing funding of the New York State International Training and Research Program.  As many of you are aware, the Fogarty International Center has changed the HIV training program so that each grant is focused on one country and preferably on one institution in that country.  This program referred to as the Fogarty HIV Research Training Program ( ) has been in effect since 2013.  We have been fortunate to receive renewed support for both Kazakhstan and Ukraine as well as play a key role in a planning grant to develop an HIV Training Program in Georgia.


In 2016 the NYS-ITRP was awarded a $1.5 million 5 year grant to develop and implement the “Kazakh National Medical University-SUNY HIV Research Training Program.”  The new program will build capacity at the Kazakh National Medical University (KNMU) School of Public Health to train on and conduct implementation science research that responds to Kazakhstan’s HIV treatment cascade. Our key collaborator at KNMU is Zhamilya Nugmanova, MD, PhD, Chair of the Division of HIV Infection and Infection Control. Dr. Nugmanova has extensive research training, has played a key role in developing HIV training curricula for the University, and works closely with one of the largest HIV clinics in the country (Almaty AIDS Center).  In preparation for our proposal she successfully negotiated the integration of the Division of HIV Infection and Infection Control into the KNMU School of Public Health.  She has been working closely with the NYS-ITRP since completing a semester of epidemiology training at the SUNY-SPH supported by NYS-ITRP (Fall 2011). An additional partner is Columbia’s Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA).  This center, directed by Nabila El-Bassel, DSW, Professor of Social Work at the Columbia University School of Social Work has focuses on developing evidence-based, sustainable solutions to address health and social challenges in Central Asia.  Local direction for GHRCCA is provided by Assel Terlikbayeva, MD, MSSW.  Training opportunities available through this funding will include an MS degree in Epidemiology through the University at Albany School of Public Health as well as an online MPH degree.




In 2017, the NYS-ITRP was awarded an additional $1.5 million 5 year grant to develop and implement the “Ukraine HIV Research Training Program” to build capacity in implementation science research that addresses gaps in HIV care in Ukraine. This program aims to decrease the burden of HIV disease through the systematic HIV-related research training of investigators and by increasing in-country training capacity.  Our key collaborating institutions in Ukraine are the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy School of Public Health (SPH NaUKMA) and the Ukrainian Institute for Public Health Policy (UIPHP).   Our key collaborator at the SPH NaUKMA is Tetiana Stepurko, PhD, Head of the Master’s program in “Health Care Management” at the SPH. Dr. Stepurko received a joint PhD from the SPH NaUKMA and Maastricht University, is an Associate Editor of BMC Health Services Research. UIPHP, a research focused NGO is directed by Tetiana Kiriazova, PhD, who has been working in the field of HIV policy and prevention in Ukraine for 20 years. A recipient of short-term training from the NYS-ITRP, she has participated as a faculty member in our in-country workshops including a 2016 workshop in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Training opportunities developed through this funding will include support for a Master’s degree in the SPH NaUKMA School of Public Health, enhancement of the HIV epidemiology curriculum as well as a 9-month certificate in HIV Implementation Science through the University at Albany School of Public Health. Ultimately, we plan to collaboratively develop a Certificate in HIV Research and Implementation Science at the SPH NaUKMA.


Georgia Planning Grant

In 2016 the Georgian NGO Partnership for Research in Action for Health, was awarded a $60,480 planning grant from the Fogarty International Center to develop a full 5 year Fogarty HIV Research Training Program grant.  PRAH is a not-for profit organization focused on assisting public health education and research in the country.

The application was supported by the faculty of the NYS-ITRP including staff at the University at Albany, the New York State Department of Health and SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Dr. Mamuka Djibuti, founding dean at Tbilisi’s International School of Public Health and director of PRAH is the Principal Investigator for the Planning Grant. “All of the Georgian partners involved in this project are eager to start this new phase of collaboration with the University at Albany and SUNY Downstate, and look forward to working with the experts at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute,” said Djibuti. “With the support of this grant, we are confident that we can take our global partnership with SUNY to new heights.”

To ensure a strong focus on implementation science, the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute will work with Georgian planning group to develop an internship program that will allow Georgian trainees the opportunity to collaborate with program specialists and epidemiologists at the AIDS Institute.  Dr. Djibuti participated in a series of meetings in both Albany and New York City in April, 2017 to begin to prepare a full grant submission. US program participants will be traveling to Georgia in May to finalize plans for the full submission in August, 2017.

Former Fogarty Trainees Help Eliminate Hepatitis C in Georgia

Georgia has launched a groundbreaking program to rid its population of hepatitis C, the first lower-middle-income country to tackle this challenge since a cure was discovered for the devastating disease. Leading the effort are a number of former Fogarty trainees, who are collaborating with the U.S. CDC and a pharmaceutical company that is donating its new drug. The scientific team believes Georgia is an ideal candidate for HCV elimination with its small size and high prevalence of disease; strong governmental commitment; availability of modern diagnostic and treatment methods; and a cadre of well-trained personnel who are capable of planning and implementing such a complex initiative.

Key support came from the NYS-ITRP. We’ve trained almost 30 Georgian scientists, which was critical to developing the human resources required to eliminate HCV. Many NYS-ITRP trainees are leading the effort as described in this recent MMWR ( ) report from the US CDC. These efforts are led by NYS-ITRP alumni Lia Gvinjilia (MS  2012),  Tengiz Tsertsvadze (post-doctoral fellow 1996), Nikoloz Chkhartishvili (MS 2008), George Kamkamidze (MS 2009), and Maia Butshashvili (MS degree 2000, PhD 2011). The Georgia HCV Elimination Program made substantial progress in its first year. Since the launch of the program in April 2015, 27,392 HCV-infected persons were enrolled and 8,448 initiated treatment, which represents a >400% increase in the number treated compared with the total number of HCV-infected persons treated in the country during the previous 4 years.

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