Provost’s Global Faculty Awards 2021 - 22

Business, Economics, Law, and Policy

Migrating to India's Cities

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Anup Malani, Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law, The University of Chicago Law school,
  • Adam Chilton, Assistant Professor of Law and Walter Mander Research Scholar, The University of Chicago Law School

The purpose of this project is to identify specific policies that could be changed to improve the lives of India’s urban poor. Until now, the project has focused on conducting research in India’s cities. The next stage of the project is to understand the factors that prevent India’s living in rural poverty from moving to the cities. To do so, two India-based research assistants will be hired for six months each. They will then start in field sites in the slums of India’s largest cities, and track migration patterns back to the villages where the residents of those slums migrated from. Extensive ethnographic field research will be conducted to understand why some families of those villages are able to migrate and why others do not.

The goal is to produce careful ethnographic studies of individuals’ migration choices. This ethnographic research will document individuals’ migration histories, family migration strategies, barriers to migration, and migration goals. This ethnographic research will be used to link individuals’ migration histories to the policies that impede their migration goals. Based on the results of this work, the goal is to produce an academic article that leverages this ethnographic, qualitative research to explain why India has the world’s largest rural-urban wage gap.

Culture, Society, Religion, and the Arts

CANTO Poetry Festival

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Srikanth Reddy, Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, The University of Chicago
  • Avik Chanda, Festival Director, CANTO Poetry Festival

The four-day traveling festival is dedicated to poetry, entitled CANTO, across multiple cities in India, in March 2022. Faculty members from the University of Chicago, along with eminent poets, academics, and scholars in India, will come together for readings and extended discussions of the literary futures of poetry in South Asia, US, and beyond. The audience will include students and faculty of contemporary literature and creative writing at the University of Chicago, Ashoka University, JNU, Calcutta University, Presidency University, and a wider segment of readers, scholars and practitioners of poetry in the public sphere. The festival will conceptualize possibilities for transnational poetry writing and criticism, among Indian scholars, students and literary artists. Besides original poetry in English, there will be emphasis on poetry in translation from various Indian languages and regional literary traditions. Specific events, conducted in a workshop format, will interrogate the existing pedagogical mores around poetry in creative writing programs, and the changing cultures of writing and reading in the twenty-first century. The festival will serve to showcase the interface between academia, practitioners of poetry, and the media/publishing industry, focusing renewed attention on the disruptive contemporary cultures of writing and reading. An innovative aspect will be its “phygital” mode, wherein events taking place in physical spaces will also be telecast live, via multiple digital channels, to maximize outreach. Recording and hosting will enable posting on social media and websites, enhancing traction on an ongoing basis.

Disability and Multimodal and Multisensory Communication in India

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Michele Friedner, Assistant Professor of Comparative Human Development, The University of Chicago
  • Shubhangi Vaidya, Indira Gandhi National Open University

The purpose of this project is to bring together our two research fields-- deafness and intellectual disability-- and think broadly about “best practices” in non-conventional and non-standardized communication that might exist below the radar in India. While (rather ideological) universalized ideas about “best practices” exist including signed language and listening and spoken language in the case of deaf children and using assistive augmentative communication in the case of intellectually disabled people, our goal is to analyze what people actually do on the ground to create successful communication. We draw on work on disability studies that critiques universalized understandings of disability and normative understandings of personhood and linguistic anthropology and applied linguistics work which looks at the diverse semiotic repertoires people in India and elsewhere use in order to produce successful interactions and enact communicative competence. We are particularly interested in attending to multimodal and multisensory communicative practices. The members will be bringing these two different domains--deafness and intellectual disability-- in which communication cannot be taken for granted together is productive. (Note that Friedner participated in a series of workshops in the United States in which autism researchers and autistic scholars interacted with deaf studies and sign language researchers and deaf scholars in order to generate new insights into the study of communication and sociality.)This micro research project comes at a critical junction: Friedner has finished a book on cochlear implantation in India and Vaidya will be in the middle of her dissertation fieldwork focusing on schools and NGOs working with youth with intellectual disabilities.

A Conference and a book on Rammohun Roy at 250

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College, Department of History, The University of Chicago
  • Tanika Sarkar, Professor of History (Retired), Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Rosinka Chaudhury, Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies, Center for Studies in Social Sciences

Indian history textbooks for generations of post-independence school children as ‘the Father of Modern India’.The project is timed for the 250th birth anniversary of Rammohun in 2022. Rammohun Roy was the first well-known Indian intellectual who, born and raised in the Indo-Persian-Arabic world of the 18th c, came to embrace the progressive ideas of the European Enlightenment. A correspondent of Jeremy Bentham and others, he agitated against the practice of sati (widow burning), fought for women's property rights and the freedom of the press, founded a religious institution (the Brahma Sabha) closely allied to the Unitarian Church, and represented India in Britain when he traveled there in 1831. He wrote his first book in Persian with an introduction in Arabic and subsequently used Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, and English at will; he is also acknowledged as the progenitor of modern Bengali prose. He fought against Hindu orthodoxy and he also argued with the missionaries in Calcutta about true Christianity; he derided Sanskrit learning and favored English education for Indian students in a letter to Lord Amherst (1823) at least twelve years before Macaulay wrote his infamous Minute. His international reputation was unprecedented. Much admired in America, he was feted in Britain and France and the Spanish Constitution of Cádiz was dedicated to him.

Archiving Sources for the History of the 'Modern Bengali Song'

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College, Department of History, The University of Chicago
  • Laura Ring, Librarian for Southern Asia & Anthropology, The University of Chicago Library
  • Jayanta Sengupta, Director, Victoria Memorial Hall

The musical genre called “adhunik Bangla gaan” or the “modern Bengali song” is a critical part of the history of modernity in Bengal and refers to a unique category of “modern” songs that emerged in Bengal during the 1930s through 70s.

These songs played a very important in the cultural history of the Indian state of West Bengal, especially in the decades of the 1950s and 60s when the people of this state were still coming to terms with the consequences of the partition of India in 1947. Yet this history remains largely undocumented and dispersed in ephemeral sources. Though there have been systematic institutional efforts at archiving and digitizing Indian classical music thanks to its obvious cultural and political importance, there has been no concerted effort to preserve documents and other sources relating to the history of adhunik Bangla gaan apart from sporadic initiatives on the part of enthusiasts which have, more often than not, fallen through for lack of support

This project aims to identify, collect, archive, and digitize published books, newspaper articles, unpublished personal papers of lyricists, composers, and performers, score-sheets of composers, and other forms of ephemera about artists and other creative heads who have contributed to adhunik Bangla Gaan. Such archiving is a critical task of the present when scholars are beginning to take an interest in the history of this form of music.

From Mughal Rule to the Raj: Reassessing the Imperial Transition in South Asia

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Sunit Singh, Assistant Instructional Professor in The College and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of History, The University of Chicago
  • Steven Pincus, Thomas E. Donnelly Professor of British History, Department of History, The University of Chicago

How the British East India Company (EIC) came to establish a territorial empire in India remains a subject of considerable interest to scholars and non-specialists alike. Despite the continued interest in the subject, the prevailing understanding of Mughal successor formations, the Company’s conquest of Bengal and beyond, and the resulting transformation of the British Empire remains largely beholden to anachronistic and inadequate frameworks. Shaped in the aftermath of decolonization and overshadowed by the prospect of setting India on an independent, even autarkic, historical trajectory, the historiography set in place in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s tends to still speak in monolithic terms of “the Indians” and “the British” without paying much attention to politics and ideology.

The key aim of this proposal is to re-examine the early modern formation of empire in India by interrogating the notion that such an autocratic and illiberal imperium as was eventually erected by the East India Company in India could have taken shape without serious debate, without politics, and to suggest that the politics in question can ultimately be understood as neither indigenous nor European.

Through a conference, the organizers aim to strengthen institutional collaborations with leading a number of scholars and historians, particularly in and around Delhi (Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi University, and Jawaharlal Nehru University) as well as in other parts of India.

New Global Authoritarianisms and Democracy’s Discontents

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Lisa Wedeen, Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and the College, Department of Political Science, The University of Chicago
  • Adom Getachew, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, The University of Chicago
  • William Mazzarella, Neukom Family Professor of Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College Department of Anthropology, The University of Chicago
  • Rochona Majumdar, Associate Professor South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Cinema and Media Studies, The University of Chicago

The Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT) working group on global authoritarianisms will host a series of workshops on democracy’s latest discontents, examining the recent rise of authoritarianism from historical, comparative, and transnational perspectives. Given the rise of ultranationalist movements in India, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, and considering the (at least current) defeat of liberal democratic movements in the Arab world, the question arises as to why citizens, and not only autocrats, are so often attracted to autocracy. To be sure, authoritarianism has had a long life globally and on the subcontinent, and our working group will attend to the past as well as the present, exploring the histories and enabling conditions contributing to the rise of contemporary forms of authoritarianism worldwide. Our analysis of the affective dynamics of global authoritarianism over time will presume neither unbroken continuity nor dramatic rupture, instead of focusing on both the ongoing structural processes and immediate catalysts that have produced this moment. The workshop will consist of four panels: on genealogies of authoritarianism; on populist affects; on knowledge production in the shadow of populism; and on authoritarian infrastructures and networks. The sessions will serve as a model for future conversations to be held at the University of Chicago Center in Paris and on the university campus in Chicago. Interlocutors from our Delhi workshop will be invited to subsequent gatherings, with the resulting original research on contemporary authoritarianism to be gathered for publication as a volume for scholarly use by 2024.

Enlightenment in the Colony: A Global History of Hindoo College

Key Faculty & Collaborators

  • (PI) Rochona Majumdar, Associate Professor South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Cinema and Media Studies, The University of Chicago

The Hindoo College, established in 1817, was one of the first “Western” educational institutions in Asia. It was renamed Presidency College in 1855. The college was established a few years after the Fort William College in Calcutta (1800) and the Haileybury College (1806) in England. As a “private “enterprise, the establishment of the college opens up questions about the role of philanthropy in the colony. The Hindoo College, however, was an “academic” institution from the beginning with no explicit brief to be of service to the Company raj and subsequently the British Empire. Its location in colonial-era Calcutta made it a hub of myriad global influences.

The aim of this project is to analyze the history of the Hindoo and subsequently Presidency college as “global” history. By what processes did a world-class institution emerge in a newly established city, largely through private enterprise, under Company rule and continue its dominance in the Indian academic scene well into the post-colonial period? Who were the beneficiaries of its education? What was the history of pedagogy and disciplinarity in the College? The project spans years that historians have designated as the “Bengal Renaissance.”

Contemporary Art and Museums in India

Key Faculty & Collaborators: 

  • (PI) Orianna Cacchione, Curator of Global Contemporary Art, Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago
  • Issa Lampei, Director of the Feitler Center; Deputy Director for Academic and Curatorial Affairs, Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago
  • Michael  Christiano, Deputy Director and Curator of Public Practice Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago
  • Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation
  • Nandita Jaishankar, Editorial &Programming, Serendipity Arts Foundation

The Smart Museum’s Curator of Global Contemporary Art and senior staff will embark on an initial research and familiarization trip to explore possible collaborations between the Smart Museum, the Delhi Center, and arts organizations in India. This trip productively expands an ongoing collaboration with the Delhi-based Serendipity Arts Foundation and the Smart Museum that was started remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Serendipity and the Smart are co-publishing an edited volume, tentatively titled, Imaginable Worlds: Art, Crisis and Global Futures. The volume addresses the worlds imaginable for art and society in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, reassessing the shift to the digital in contemporary art and museums within the framework of crises past, present, and speculative. Beyond celebrating this groundbreaking collaboration, the Smart Museum staff will undertake their first formal trip to India. They will meet with artists, critics, curators, and museum professionals, while also surveying the exhibitions and holdings of various institutions and private collections. These meetings will provide Smart staff with a better understanding of both India’s history of modern and contemporary art and the institutional context for its presentation throughout India. From this foundational research, the Smart Museum, in coordination with the Delhi Center staff, will propose future projects that engage the resources of the Center and the broad expertise of the Museum’s staff.

Science, Energy, Medicine, and Public Health

Implementation of a Comprehensive Care Program

Key Faculty & Collaborators

  • (PI) David Meltzer, Professor of Medicine and Economics, Chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Shashikiran Umakanth, Professor & Head of Medicine, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dr TMA Pai Hospital
  • Kirthinath Bhallal, Chief Administrative Medical Officer, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dr TMA Pai Hospital
  • Emily Perish, Director or Communications and Business Development, Comprehensive Care Program, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Andrew Schram, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Pooja Gala, Assistant Professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
  • Veena Sriram, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia
  • Sanajana Kareti, Hospitalist, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Aishwarya Mahajan, Social Science Research Manager, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago

Hospital-based physicians in India have historically practiced an integrated form of care, providing both inpatient and outpatient care to the same panel of patients. However, the growing demand for primary care and hospitalization in the context of increasing non-communicable diseases (NCD) have caused a departure from this integrated approach, decreasing continuity of care and coordination between inpatient and outpatient care. This project aims to implement a specialized Comprehensive Care Program model, which has been developed and evaluated at the University of Chicago (UC), at TMAPH and surrounding areas to both improve continuity of care for medically complex patients between inpatient and outpatient settings at TMAPH and facilitate coordination of care among providers at TMAPH and private doctors in the community for patients receiving primary care outside of TMAPH.

Advancing Trauma Care in India Through Combination Surgical and Minimally Invasive Interventional Therapies

Key Faculty & Collaborators

  • (PI) Osman Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Thuong Van Ha, Professor, Department of Radiology, The University of Chicago Medicine
  • Jennifer Cone, Assistant Professor, Surgery, The University of Chicago Medicine
  • Priya Prakash, Assistant Professor, Surgery, The University of Chicago Medicine
  • Shivanand Gamanagatti, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology, Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center
  • Atin Kumar, Professor, Department of Radiology, Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center
  • Amit Gupta, Professor, Department of Radiology, Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center
  • Subodh Kumar, Professor, Surgery, Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center

Traumatic injuries are a major societal problem in India, with injuries and deaths related to traffic accidents ranking highest in the world and accounting for up to 18% of all deaths in the country. Additionally, hemorrhage remains a major cause of death worldwide, with the greatest burden in low and middle-income countries. A recent study of trauma in urban areas of India showed that 58% of all trauma deaths could be prevented and that among those that were preventable, hemorrhage was the leading cause of death. High rates of mortality within this region of the world are multifactorial, in part due to the absence of integrated and organized trauma systems, both at the prehospital and hospital levels. Furthermore, standardized training in hemorrhage control is not routine among healthcare providers, though management of external hemorrhage for hospital-based trauma care is required by the World Health Organization. The University of Chicago will partner with the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center (JPNATC), a government-sanctioned Level 1 trauma center in New Delhi, India, to identify fundamental initiatives to advance trauma care and training in the nation, specifically focusing on approaches to hemorrhage control. This initial meeting will highlight the innovative approach by UChicago’s trauma surgery and interventional radiology sections in managing acute hemorrhagic injuries with minimally invasive therapies and novel imaging systems to reduce the morbidity of surgery and improve patient outcomes. The collaboration will focus on building a framework directed at evaluating and implementing interventional radiology techniques for the management of acute traumatic hemorrhage specific to the needs of India. Research for this project is led by Drs. Osman Ahmed, Thuong Van Ha, and Jeffrey Leef from the Department of radiology and Drs. Jennifer Cone and Priya Prakash from the Department of Surgery.

Community-Based Development of Trans-Affirmative Health Education in India

Key Faculty & Collaborators: 

  • (PI) Aniruddha Hazra, Assistant Professor, Section of Infectious Diseases and Global Health; Director of STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) Services, Chicago Center for HIV Elimination, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Amanda Adeleye, Assistant Professor ofObstetrics and Gynecology, Bucksbaum Associate Junior Faculty, Faculty Scholar, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Angela Marie Pace-Moody, Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago
  • Anant Bhan, Researcher, GlobalHealth, Health Policyand Bioethics and SitePI, Sangath, BhopalHub, India, Sangath
  • Aqsa Shaikh, Associate Professor of Community Medicine& Member, Medical Education Unit, Hamdard Institute of Medical Education Research, Hamdard Institute of Medical Education Research, Jamia Hamdard
  • Satender Singh, Professor of Physiology; Faculty Advisor, Iridescence (LGBTQIA+SOGIESC) Health; Bucksbaum International Scholar, University College of Medical Sciences(UCMS), University of Delhi
  • Amir Maroof Khan, Professor of Community Medicine; Coordinator, Medical Education Unit; Faculty Advisor, Iridescence(LGBTQIA+SOGIESC) Health Humanities Group, University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), University Delhi
  • Kirtana Nayak, Professor of Physiology; Head, Department of Medical Education, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal

Despite efforts for universal health access, transgender and gender non-binary (TGNB) persons in India face numerous health disparities. A major reason for this inequity is that the health professional education in India largely operates within the gender binary and has not worked to include Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) competencies. In 2019, the Government of India passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, which mandates governments to take measures for “review of medical curriculum and research for doctors to address their (transgender) specific health issues”. Hence, there is a need for a systematic, participatory, and inclusive effort to create trans-affirmative medical curricula. The project aims to highlight global best practices in shared decision making for vulnerable communities and to create a set of core competencies on trans-affirmative healthcare in India through a series of regional workshops and a national conference. The stakeholders for the workshops would include health professional educators; healthcare professionals providing gender-affirmative care; medical students, faculty and other health professionals identifying as TGNB; and TGNB community members. After the consolidation and refinement of the competencies drafted at these workshops, the project will conclude with a national conference aimed at highlighting these best practices and discussing methods ofteaching, consensus building, and national dissemination of this work. The project builds on a prior successful collaboration with UChicago in incorporating disability competencies into the Indian medical curriculum as well as a current project by the Indian team studying the experiences of TGNB persons in health facilities. In the future, these efforts can inform the development of competencies for providing healthcare that is inclusive of other sections of the SOGIESC population as well as minority caste andethnic populations in India and regionally in South Asia.

Perioperative Challenges in Liver Transplantation

Key Faculty & Collaborators: 

  • (PI) Govind Rangrass, Assistant Professor of Anesthesia and Critical Care, The University of Chicago
  • John Fung, Professor of Surgery, Director of Transplant Institute, The University of Chicago
  • Mahesh Arora, Chair, Department of Anesthesiology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi
  • Caitlin Curcuru, Resident PGY-3, Department of Anesthesia/Critical Care, The University of Chicago

Care for patients undergoing liver transplant surgery requires a highly multidisciplinary team to coordinate the perioperative planning and care in executing successful transplantation. Several annual international conferences are aimed at bringing the global liver transplant community together to discuss updates in research, variations in care practices, and complex cases. While these conferences are highly informative, inculcating lessons learned from other centers can be challenging without established networks of ongoing inter-center collaboration that allow for cross-cultural appreciation of practice variation, and appreciation for mechanisms underlying fundamental differences in the care for highly complex patients across global settings. Moreover, published studies on care practices and their respective outcomes often do not explicitly address the many barriers to the adoption of those practices in other settings. The goal of this project is to establish a close collaboration with the Indian Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences(ILBS) in New Delhi, a widely-recognized center of excellence and subspecialty training in India for liver transplantation, in order to execute several high-impact projects and webinars that would result in widespread dissemination of education and publications. These collaboration efforts would pave the way for consensus-building on best practice management techniques for different types of liver transplant surgery, address complex cross-cultural issues in liver transplantation, and highlight areas for further research to address wide variations in practice which we hope to do as part of this project.

Developing the Pediatric Minimal Invasive Surgery Program in India and Southeast Asia

Key Faculty & Collaborators: 

  • Mohan Gundeti, Professor of Pediatric Urology, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago

India is the world’s only country where 30% of the population is under 21 years of age. This large population will eventually form the backbone of the country’s wealth and contribute to the national GDP. Complex congenital urological anomalies are highly prevalent, affecting at least one out of every hundred newborns. If these newborns have access to optimal surgical care and reconstructive surgery, they can resume normal health.

The morbidity of open surgery has a huge impact not only on the patient’s quality of life, but also emotionally on the family, and economically on the nation. Minimal Invasive surgery in the form of Laparoscopy and Robotics helps to alleviate the morbidity of open surgeries in the form of reduced hospital stay, less pain, and early return to normal activity. Minimal Invasive surgery helps both children and their families. However currently such advanced care is provided at very few teaching institutions in India due to lack of expertise.

In Phase I of this project, live surgical robotic laparoscopic and open surgical demonstrations along with workshops were conducted at various government institutions across the country by Dr. Mohan S. Gundeti.  He also delivered keynote lectures at the National Association of Pediatric Surgeons and South Indian regional meeting of Urological Surgeons and these activities benefited overall more than 1500 surgeons in India and some of the southeast Asian countries (through live webcast). 

In Phase II (2020-21), the surgical workshops will be held in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka as well to develop and foster long term collaborative relations with local surgeons for exchange of knowledge and skills in paediatric urology specialty to take care of children with urological anomalies properly.

Integrative Research on Human Evolution and Reconstruction of the Past in India

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Maanasa Raghavan, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics, The University of Chicago
  • Niraj Rai, Scientist C, Ancient DNA, Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences
  • Gaur Anuruddh Singh, Principal Technical Officer, CSIR – National Institute of Oceanography
  • K. Amarnath Ramakrishna, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (Goa Circle)

In 2019, a first-of-its-kind workshop was held in India, bringing together archaeologists and scientists to brainstorm how fields such as genetics can add new dimensions to the reconstruction of the human past in this region. The three-day meeting was hugely productive and sparked several discussions ranging from questions in archaeology that would benefit from scientific analyses to sustainable sampling methods, and collaborative potential between some of our research groups. As scientists, we came away with new knowledge and ideas on how we can contribute our expertise to studies of human evolution in South Asia. In light of the success of this meeting, this project aims to hold a follow-up workshop this year in June to include a training component by inviting students in addition to PIs and with an increased focus on the scientific tools and their applications. Since our groups have already started to work with methods such as ancient DNA and stable isotope analyses in India, it would be beneficial for PIs and students with archaeological expertise to understand the scientific theory, sampling practices, data generation protocols, data analyses, and interpretive scope of these datasets. Ultimately, the power of collaborative research can only be completely harnessed if all parties have an appreciation of both the potential and limitations of the fields in question.

Dementia in India: State of the Field and Plans for Future Research

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Jayant Pinto, Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Suma Nair, Professor & Head, Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education
  • Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath, Professor, Centre for Neuroscience, IISER Bengaluru
  • Shilpy Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Savitribai Phule University of Pune

Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD) represent a worldwide public health problem, one that is growing in aging societies, including India. There are approximately 4 million people who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD) in India, which is 10% of all patients worldwide, and rural areas where the vast majority of Indians live have an estimated 10.6% prevalence. Despite this impact, there is little known about risk factors for dementia in India. This is a crucial barrier since a search for modifiable risk factors is critical in the face of no currently available effective treatment,

This project aims to develop fruitful, productive, and interdisciplinary research in the dementia field by innovative partnerships with community and local universities, to build local capacity, which would greatly assist to combat this issue in India and Asia more broadly.

Through a two day conference at the Center in Delhi, the organizers aim to strengthen ties between Indian and Chicago scientists with common interests in neurosensory research; epidemiology, environmental health, and aging and review current knowledge about risk factors for sensory and cognitive impairment in India, discuss faculty interests and expertise, and identify opportunities for joint research.

Effects of Climate Change on Himalayan Biodiversity

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Trevor Price, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, The University of Chicago
  • Kumar Manish Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, The University of Delhi
  • Dhananjai Mohan, Director, Wildlife Institute of India

The main objective of this project will be to bring together scientists who have worked on different aspects of the impact of climate change on Himalayan biodiversity (e.g. GIS and remote sensing, hydrological and glacier changes, on-ground censuses of elevation changes in plant diversity, changes in the time of reproduction of birds, predictions of elevation shifts in plants and animals under various future climate scenarios, delineating conservation priorities in current and future climate scenarios, impact of land-use changes on the regional climate), for a 3-day conference in Delhi in January 2022. Workers in these different fields have not generally communicated with each other, and certainly never produced a synthetic product. We will be building on a workshop on biodiversity and climate change in India that was held in 2018 (summarized by Behera et al. loc.cit.), which however was not attended by any of the organizers or main invitees. That meeting entirely involved researchers from institutions in South Asia and was primarily concerned with evaluations of future change, and the possible establishment of baseline monitoring, rather than assessment of data available. This project complements the work being conducted by PI Price in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, which has an MOU with the University of Chicago to address patterns of biodiversity in the Himalayas, now in its 12th year. That has resulted in several student exchanges and multiple jointly authored papers on Himalayan biodiversity. More concretely, over the past 30 years, Price has monitored the time of breeding of birds, which is the only monitoring of this sort that has gone on anywhere in the Himalayas. We are now training graduate students from both the Wildlife Institute of India and the University of Chicago in monitoring as well as more mechanistic and experimental approaches to understand the effects of climate on Himalayan plants and animals. For example, we study causes of reproductive success of trees and birds at both the lower and upper elevation range limits, with the idea that lower range limit conditions are representative of climate at higher elevations in the future.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Address Mental Health in South Asian Youth

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Seeba Anam, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, The University of Chicago
  • Paralikar Vasudeo Prahlad, Head, Psychiatry Unit, King Edward Memorial Hospital
  • Syed Emdadul Haque, Coordinator of Research Training and New Program Development, UChicago Research Bangladesh

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the mental health of adolescents in the global context through the disruption of social, educational, economic, and family structures vital to child development. This is especially true in India and Bangladesh, due to their disproportionately young population. 

The Interdisciplinary Approaches to Address Mental Health in South Asian Youth collaborative research project convenes faculty from the University of Chicago Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, the UChicago Research, Bangladesh (URB), and the King Edward Memorial Hospital Research Center, Pune (KEMHRC) in India.  This study aims to evaluate the current landscape in South Asian communities related to adolescent mental health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers from the three institutions together identified priority content to be included in a mixed-methods study with adolescents, parents, and health care providers currently addressing mental health needs for South Asian youth. Surveys and interviews will be conducted ascertaining potential risk and protective factors affecting adolescent mental health and care-seeking behavior related to COVID-specific stressors.  This needs assessment in South Asian communities in Bangladesh and India will then inform the development of culturally tailored approaches for communities in which mental health treatment is highly stigmatized, undertreated, and understudied.

Joint Workshop on Quantum Information Science and Technology

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Supratik Guha, Professor, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, The University of Chicago
  • K R Murali Mohan, Mission Director, NM-ICPS, Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Rajiv Sharma, Scientist, Frontiers and Futuristic Technologies Division, Ministry of Science and Technology

The project objective is to conduct a 2-day workshop on the subject of “Quantum Information Science and Technology” that would bring together subject matter experts from the University of Chicago centered at the Chicago Quantum Exchange with university faculty and students in India working or interested in quantum information.  The objective would be to discuss emerging areas of interest in quantum technology, explore areas of mutual interest for future collaboration with Indian faculty, and to bring awareness among the Indian student community (including those at the Indian Institutes of Technology) of the Pritzker School of MolecularEngineering’s (PME) strengths as a place to pursue graduate studies. The conference will be planned at the UChicago Delhi conference facilities in Connaught Place, Delhi.  Five to six faculty from PME will travel to Delhi for the workshop.  15-20 Indian faculty specializing in Quantum Information Sciences are anticipated to participate.