NUSOM receives grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation

NUSOM receives grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation to pilot a pathology-based surveillance study using the minimally invasive tissue sampling technique (MITS) for the determination of cause of infant death in Kazakhstan.

The MITS is a new technique which has been developed, refined and tested in the last seven years. It is a promising alternative technique to full scale diagnostic autopsy. MITS is carried out by trained pathologists, technicians and other healthcare professionals as a pathology-based surveillance tool for generating reliable mortality data.

Why is MITS important?

In high-income developed countries comprehensive mortality records show disease patterns and their changes over time. Equipped with this information, governments and health institutions can effectively plan and prioritize health funding, research and formulate policies to improve peoples’ health and well-being. High quality mortality data is limited or lacking in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Many facilities lack the resources and infrastructure needed for complete diagnostic autopsy which is considered the gold standard for accurate mortality data. Where these are present, complete diagnostic autopsy has a poor acceptability rate and has been declining all over the world.

MITS is a less invasive technique which employs targeted organ sampling using specialized kits. These samples are then subjected to detailed laboratory analysis to determine cause of death or causal chain of events leading to death.

MITS is administered by an alliance (MITS SURVEILLANCE ALLIANCE), a consortium of member countries and institutions spread across North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia (India). The consortium is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation through the Research Triangle International with its secretariat in North Carolina.

Dr Matthew Naanlep Tanko, an Associate Professor of Practice in the department of Biomedical Science, NUSOM is the recipient of this grant on behalf of NUSOM and is the PI of a pilot project captioned“Validating a minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) procedure as a new paradigm for obtaining reliable mortality statistics for the determination of cause of death: Experience from Kazakhstan (The KazCoDe Project)”.

Dr Tanko has constituted a study team from NUSOM, UMC hospitals and the Pathoanatomical Bureau for the execution of this project.