Samar Al-Hajj, assistant research professor, at the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), received a sub-award of US$879,000 as part of a $1.3 million grant awarded to Yale University by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Al-Hajj is principal investigator on the grant. She will lead the Yale-AUB Program on Advanced Injury Research (Yale-AUB PAIR) and establish the AUB Regional Center of Excellence in Injury Science (AUB-RCEIS).
This five-year NIH grant (2021-2026) will support capacity building and training in trauma and injury prevention and control in Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). "Injury remains a major yet neglected health problem in Lebanon and the EMR. This first-time program will be the cornerstone towards advancing injury research and capacity in the region,” said Dr. Al-Hajj, PI and program director.
With the EMR ranking fourth globally in injury-related deaths, this project provides the initial step to research and prevent injuries and trauma, and mitigate their effects on a region that hosts multiple complex humanitarian emergencies. As put by Dr. Iman Nuwayhid, Professor, former Dean of FHS and a co-investigator on the project, "Nurturing injury research at AUB and in Lebanon is long overdue. Whether on the road, at schools, at workplaces, or at indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, preventable incidents are claiming lives and disabling its victims. This NIH-funded program will help us produce evidence, change policies, and build partnerships. This is needed now more than ever!”
The aim of the project is to develop competent research leaders who are able to respond to the injury and trauma research needs in the EMR. The Yale-AUB PAIR program will provide trainees with a robust foundation in injury research design, methodology and analytic approaches. Each trainee will be mentored by PAIR mentors—one from AUB and one from Yale. In addition to offering two PhD and six Master’s level full scholarships, the program will train 20 professionals in advanced research skills and conduct workshops for 200 governmental and non-governmental staff engaged in trauma and injury prevention.
The Yale-AUB PAIR and AUB-RCEIS will also offer structured long-term career development and mentorship to its trainees to enable them to launch their careers as independent injury and trauma investigators. AUB-RCEIS will serve as a hub for an injury surveillance system, which is essential to accurately assess the injury burden and inform trauma and injury policies in Lebanon and the EMR.