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St. John’s Research Institute, Palamaner, Andhra Pradesh

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Site Details
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St John’s presence in rural Palamaner since 1985 is part of the institute’s mission to train doctors in underserved areas, and to ensure that graduate students spend substantial time in rural areas as part of their studies. St John’s decided to partner with the Emmaus hospital in Palamaner, which has been working in the area for over 30 years with a population of about 500 000.

Through this partnership, multiple large epidemiologic studies have been carried out. Initial studies on nutrition looked at whether the evaluation of nutritional status in leprosy patients and their families would allow for better identification of families in need of intervention.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study looked at traditional and new risk factors for chronic diseases. Multiple large, longitudinal studies on tuberculosis have also been carried out, one of which is the Household Contact TB Study. This study is intended to investigate the rate of contact transmission (intra household transmission pattern), and biomarkers of protection and disease for TB. In the adolescent TB study, 6,400 adolescents between ages 12-18 years were followed up to 2 years, and in the neonatal TB study 4,300 neonates were followed up to 2 years. The main objectives of both these studies were to find out the incidence of TB among neonates and adolescents, and to check if the site has potential for new TB vaccines trials.

St John’s has been successful in integrating its field research activities in Palamaner with its lab facilities. Though not fully operational at present, they are planning to build up a bio repository. Given the long term association with the community, the Palamaner site has the potential for large scale community based intervention trials.

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