High-speed Internet2 link revolutionizes global medical education

Baltimore 28 September 2006Imagine Johns Hopkins faculty members performing microsurgery in Tanzania from a computer terminal in a Baltimore operating room, or health care experts in Vietnam presenting an avian influenza patient to medical students gathered in the Hopkins outpatient centre. These are some of the possible applications of a high-tech Internet communication system that will be used for the first time to link Johns Hopkins faculty with clinicians in India.

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Internet2 is a high-speed, high-bandwidth, dedicated Internet network developed in 1996 by leaders in the research and education community in the United States as a way to better support education and research collaborations worldwide. Johns Hopkins faculty members are using this technology to conduct an interactive clinical education programme on HIV/AIDS, with health care professionals in India.

"This is a major advancement in global medical education", stated Robert C. Bollinger M.D., M.P.H., professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Center for Clinical Global Health Education. "This technology will allow us to bring Hopkins' expertise in clinical education to some of the most resource-limited settings in the world, and it will give Hopkins the opportunity to learn from experts in the field, thousands of miles away."

Dr. Bollinger said he chose HIV/AIDS for the Internet2 presentation because it's a high-priority health issue in India and he has worked extensively in that country researching the disease. Typical bandwidth for standard Internet conferencing is 384 kilobits per second, according to Dr. Bollinger. Internet2 operates at 2 megabits per second. The higher bandwidth allows for better resolution and permits faculty to utilize complex imaging techniques like manipulating 3D MRI images. "You could never perform these procedures with a standard connection", stated Dr. Bollinger.

The programme links HIV/AIDS faculty experts from India and Johns Hopkins using high-resolution, multipoint video conferencing, digital microscopy, 3D imaging and other unique e-learning tools. Participants will be located in six facilities: four separate locations at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore; the World Bank in Washington, D.C.; Capital Technology Information Services (CTIS) in Gaithersburg, Maryland; National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in Pune, India; BJ Medical College in Pune, India; and Education and Research Network (ERNET) in New Delhi, India.

Highlighting the programme are a series of clinical demonstrations: Ophthalmology and HIV/AIDS, presented by Sanjay Kedhar M.D., clinical instructor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins; Pathology of HIV-associated Diseases, presented by Douglas P. Clark, M.D., associate professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins; HIV/AIDS Neurological Complications, presented by Justin McArthur, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., professor and chief neurologist at Johns Hopkins; and HIV Drug Resistance, presented by Robert F. Siliciano, M.D., Ph.D., professor of immunology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Johns Hopkins. The presentations are followed by discussions by high-level AIDS experts from India.


Leslie Versweyveld

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