News from TDR Director, John Reeder

TDR news item
10 June 2013

With this issue of our enews, I am pleased to be starting a regular series of updates from my perspective – on what’s new, what’s coming up, or perhaps a few details on something you may have heard about and be interested to find out more.

TDR Director John Reeder
WHO/TDR/Suder-Dayao

This last month has been really exciting for us, seeing the huge response to a new kind of TDR grant designed to meet the needs identified in our new strategy. The Impact Grant is set up to help researchers and professionals expand their scope of knowledge and/or skills and help them turn their attention to pressing needs in the disease control programmes of their own countries. This is different from past grants where applicants applied to a specific programme with a set agenda and plan, as this scheme is self-customized to their needs. We made this change in response to requests from the broad TDR family around the world – this is what people wanted but couldn’t find elsewhere – something that listens to their needs and works with them to get the training that makes a difference. We have received a remarkable 458 applications from 72 different countries around the world, reinforcing the strong appetite for this kind of support. The awarded recipients will be notified of the results in July, with funding to begin in September, so stay tuned to see what kind of plans will be initiated soon.

How TDR capacity building has changed

I’d like to take this time to also reflect on a subtle but important change in our outlook. We have a new motto around the office – no research without capacity building and no capacity building without research. We see no divide between these two ongoing and important missions of TDR, and we’re making sure the two are fully integrated. We have a number of new projects that are beginning under this new model. The SORT IT programme has started, with national tuberculosis control officers looking at their countries’ data to identify how to reverse the rapid increases in multi-drug resistant TB. The participants from eastern European countries are learning by doing, and ending up with completed and published research that can be used to guide policy-makers. We’ll be using this model for other diseases and issues, but this specific project will be a good showcase that you will hear more about next month.

We have restructured the unit that provides grants, gap analysis for agenda setting, and partnerships. There are eight people, led by Coordinator Dr Fabio Zicker. You can learn more about the work of this unit in the section capacity building of our web site. We’ve also added a staff page that gives some background to the people providing these resources, which I think you’ll find interesting and valuable. Dr Zicker will be retiring at the end of the year, so I also wanted to mention that we are now searching for his replacement.

Our future

I can say confidently that we are now back in very good shape, our strategic plan has not only been endorsed but is being successfully put into use, our partnerships are strengthening, and the new work is supporting some exciting and much needed research.

Dr John Reeder, TDR Director

Next week, our Joint Coordinating Board will be gathering here in Geneva for our annual session. This is an important meeting, since it provides to our members a plan for implementing the new strategy and the proposed budget for the next biennium, 2014-15, when our plans will be fully operational. This will be the highlight of two hard years of restructuring. Many of you have asked how things are going – I know how important TDR is to so many people. And I can say confidently that we are now back in very good shape, our strategic plan has not only been endorsed but is being successfully put into use, our partnerships are strengthening, and the new work is supporting some exciting and much needed research. TDR continues to make a difference, within a stronger and more focused approach.

For more information, please contact

Ms Jamie Guth
TDR Communications Manager
Telephone: +41 79 441 2289
E-mail: guthj@who.int

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