With good long-term management, the burden of asthma can be reduced.

The Global Asthma Report 2014


Brief History

The Global Asthma Network (GAN), established in 2012, brought together a global network of asthma researchers from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). Over the years, ISAAC and The Union have provided many opportunities for further research collaboration and training. In many instances this has involved researchers from low- and middle-income countries doing a higher degree (e.g. MPH, MSc, PhD) in universities in high-income countries. However, this is often not an option because of the cost and time involved. Short courses in research generally, or asthma research in particular, provide opportunities for ‘upskilling’ in research for those with limited time and resources.

Typical courses, who should go and why

Typical short courses on asthma research and policy range from one to three weeks, and may include a range of clinicians, epidemiologists, public health professionals, statisticians, and professionals from other disciplines. The opportunity to interact with researchers from other disciplines and with other interests is often a strength of such short courses. They may also involve a range of levels (PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, and more experienced researchers who need a ‘refresher’) and may include lectures, exercises, discussion sessions, and practical experience in the design of a research proposal.

Some recommended courses

There are many such short courses available in different parts of the world. Some highly recommended courses in which GAN Steering Group members are involved include:

  • The European Educational Programme in Epidemiology; this is a three-week residential course which has been held every June/July in Florence since 1990 (www.eepe.org/).
  • The International Epidemiological Association International Course on Epidemiological Methods; this is a two-week residential course which has been held every April/May in various parts of the world since 2009 (www.iea-course.org/).
  • Operational research courses conducted by The Union; participants design their own research questions and are guided through the research process right through to preparing a paper to report the results. These Operational Research courses are made up of 3 one week blocks of course work which are spread out over a time period of 10 months (www.theunion.org/).
  • Issues in Global Non-communicable Disease: From Research to Policy; this is an annual one week course run in London by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Centre for Global Non-communicable Disease. It integrates research and policy for NCDs in general, including asthma (www.lshtm.ac.uk/study/cpd/issues_ncd.html).


Health authorities in all countries should encourage their health professionals to attend short courses relevant to asthma research and policy.

Neil Pearce, Nils Billo, Karen Bissell

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