Outline of a world map

Provost's Global Faculty Awards

2022-23 Delhi PGFA Recipients

Academic Events

Annual Symposium on Otolaryngology Updates

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the 6th most common malignancy in the world and is the leading cancer among men in India, and despite recent therapeutic advances, the long-term survival rate of patients with HNSCC has remained devastating. This project addresses the urgent need to connect, collaborate, and work together to find solutions to the problems faced by the HNSCC community in India by holding a Symposium on Otolaryngology Head and Neck Cancers in December 2022. The Symposium will establish collaboration, disseminate knowledge, and promote research amongst leading academic centers and international experts.

UChicago faculty lead: Nishant Agrawal, Department of Surgery
Local partner: University College of Medical Sciences

Passage through the Place of Peace: Interwoven Histories of Bengali Modernism

Arising from long collaborative engagements on interwoven sonic and visual media in South Asia and focusing on modernism in Bengali art, architecture, and education, this project will trace the interwoven narratives of Bengal’s modernist experiments with the better-known modernist histories in the West, as well as the lesser-known traditions of East and Southeast Asia. Through three modules in Bengal followed by a capstone and planning workshop with Delhi colleagues, the project will lay the foundation for a major publication project and expand the opportunities to engage with the aesthetic, scholarly, and performative dimensions of the media.

UChicago faculty leads: Niall Atkinson, Department of Art History (PI); Philip Bohlman, Department of Music; Anna Schultz, Department of Music

Geospatial Sensor Network-Based Internet-of-Things for Climate and Environment

Building on the extensive (and successful) work done from 2016-2020 developing a proven methodology for measuring, curating, and analyzing river water quality across large geographical areas, this project will explore partnerships and opportunities in India, where the researchers’ experience and knowledge in building geospatial sensor networks will be used to investigate how this can be used for environmental impact research in the Indian context. Through a two-day workshop on the topic in India with scientists, social scientists, and policy experts from India and the U.S. and a trip to India to visit and meet with the engineering research and talent, this project will create valuable research ties and form collaborative partnerships with Indian stakeholders and funding entities.

UChicago faculty lead: Supratik Guha, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory

Crossing Borders Workshop

In the past few decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who may be categorized as “refugees” and “asylum seekers” and a growing number of countries trying to “secure” their borders against “illegal immigrants,” and many scholars have developed forms of border-thinking as a way of practicing cosmopolitan thinking. But what does it truly mean to be a “citizen” of such a world? Through a two-day workshop on “Crossing Borders” at the UChicago Center in Delhi in December 2022, this project looks to begin to answer that question, looking at the figuration of “illegal immigrants” and “refugees” as a considerable problem. The workshop will exist as part of a larger, three-year activity consisting of workshops, a podcast, an exhibition, a conference, and a publication, all of which will work together to provide challenging, incisive, thought-provoking scholarship on cosmopolitanism’s past, present, and future. 

UChicago faculty leads: Lisa Wedeen, Department of Political Science (PI); Dipesh Chakrabarty, Department of History
Local partner: Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)

Exploratory Trips

Imaginable Worlds – Deepening Art Relationships in South Asia

The Indian art scene is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts, as events like the Kochi Biennale and Serendipity Arts Festival have developed important international reputations. Through an exploratory trip to India, this project will enable the Smart Museum to develop exhibitions, academic engagement, and public programs that better figure Indian art within the Smart’s renowned efforts for collecting and exhibiting contemporary Asian art. The trip will offer a better understanding of both India’s history of modern and contemporary art and the institutional context for its presentation throughout India, opening up new avenues for creating collaborations and projects and engaging in this exciting art scene.

UChicago faculty lead: Orianna Cacchione, Department of Art History and Smart Museum of Art
Local partner: Serendipity Arts Foundation

Public Events

CANTO Poetry Festival

A four-day festival dedicated to poetry, CANTO is an extraordinary opportunity to conceptualize possibilities for transnational poetry writing and criticism among Indian scholars, students, and literary artists. Four UChicago faculty members across several departments will attend workshops at the festival that will explore the ever-changing cultures of writing and reading in the 21st century. In its entirety, the festival will thoroughly 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. 

UChicago faculty lead: Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Program in Creative Writing
Local partners: HarperCollins Publishers India; Prohor.in

Research Projects

Navigating the Pandemic – Interdisciplinary Approaches to Address Mental Health in South Asian Youth

With several negative mental health outcomes in Indian and Bangladeshi youth related to the COVID-19 pandemic having been identified, there is a pressing need for innovative approaches to addressing rising mental health needs in adolescents. This project aims to bring together interdisciplinary researchers and stakeholders from UChicago and collaborative institutions King Edward Memorial Hospital Research Center, Pune and UChicago Research, Bangladesh for a conference to be hosted at the UChicago Center in Delhi. The conference will highlight preliminary findings from the PGFA-funded mixed methods study assessing the COVID-19 related mental health needs from the perspective of adolescents, their parents, as well as health care providers in the communities, and will be followed by a series of planning meetings between researchers, clinicians, and community stakeholders to develop educational and clinical training programs, disseminate findings, and expand initial research collaboration efforts.

UChicago faculty lead: Seeba Anam, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
Local partners: King Edward Memorial Hospital Research Center, PuneUChicago Research Bangladesh

Designing and Implementing Developmental Marketing Initiatives for Rural Artisans and Handicraft Weavers in India

The fragmented nature and small-scale operations of Handicrafts and Textile Weaving in India leaves individual weavers – Artisan Entrepreneurs (AEs) – facing enormous challenges in terms of access to markets and awareness of business development opportunities. By analyzing data on different developmental initiatives – education, design support, and market discover – and business outcomes for every AE, this project aims to causally understand and estimate the impact of these different initiatives on the short-term and long-term business outcomes of the AEs.

UChicago faculty lead: Pradeep Chintagunta, Booth School of Business
Local partner: Indian School of Business

Developing an Automated Computational Pipeline for Calling Cancer Driving Mutations in Saliva

Oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC), the most common head and neck cancer, is notorious for poor prognosis and runs rampant in India, the cancer’s epicenter. The fateful reputation of OCSCC is caused almost entirely by delayed diagnosis; however, if detected early, the survival rate for OCSCC exceeds 80%. Recently, the collaborative US/Indian group developed a non-invasive method to effectively detect OCSCC, but translation of this assay to large scale screening of individuals at high risk of developing OCSCC requires an optimization and automation of the results calling and reporting process. As such, a UChicago postdoctoral trainee with computational and bioinformatics expertise, under expert guidance, will work to optimize data curation, introduce high degree automation for variant calling pipeline, and augment its translational relevance, ultimately preparing the novel early detection tool to improve clinical outcomes and survival for patients with OCSCC in India and worldwide.

UChicago faculty leads: Evgeny Izumchenko, Department of Medicine (PI); Nishant Agrawal, Department of Surgery
Local partner: Strand Life Sciences

Enlightenment in the Colony: A History of the Hindoo/Presidency College

The Hindu College, the first western style educational institution in Asia, the place of work or study of many eminent figures of the Indian public, and the pioneer of western style learning in the natural and human sciences in colonial India, provided the foundations for many of modern India’s critical education institutions and developmental sites. The College’s emergence as a site of academic excellence was shaped by multiple currents in the spheres of education, science, and religion in the colony and post-colony, and as a result, the institution exists as a unique micro-institutional context to reflect upon the global-local politics and movements of the time. This curated collection of scholarly papers examines the intellectual history of the Hindu/Presidency College and demonstrates the enthusiasm that accompanied the arrival of European enlightenment ideas into the colony in the context of an academic institution.

UChicago faculty lead: Rochona Majumdar, Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Cinema and Media Studies
Local partner: Presidency University

Estimating COVID Deaths in India with Verbal Autopsies of a Representative Sample of Deaths

India has been ravaged by COVID-19; however, even the devastatingly high numbers of cases and deaths reported in India are likely underestimates. In order to determine precisely how many people truly died of COVID in India, researchers will conduct verbal autopsies on all deaths in a representative sample. In addition, the project will help generate a model for estimating cause-specific mortality in India via representative household surveys, a tool that can be used to improve tracking disease trends more generally in India. Attaining more accurate estimates of the COVID death rate will be a key factor in gauging the true efficacy of India’s various effort to control the pandemic.

UChicago faculty lead: Anup Malani, Law School
Local partner: Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy

Smartphones, Social Networks and Mental Health

In rural India, young married women are highly socially isolated and maintain far fewer peer connections than women in developed countries. This social isolation, common in conservative societies that practice patrilocal exogamy, is a major risk for depression and has severe consequences on employment and adoption of beneficial agricultural, financial, and health technologies. This study will conduct a small-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of giving rural Indian women the opportunity to increase their social interactions and widen their social networks through the adoption of smartphones, with the ultimate goal of understanding how smartphone adoption impacts outcomes for women.

UChicago faculty lead: Srinivasan Vasudevan, Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics
Local partner: J-PAL South Asia

Training Initiatives

Developing the Pediatric Minimal Invasive Surgery Program in India and Southeast Asia (Phase 2)

Although complex congenital urological anomalies are highly prevalent in India and other countries in southeast Asia – with at least one in every hundred newborns requiring surgical care and reconstructive surgery to resume normal health – a considerable lack of expertise still prevents the necessary advanced care from being widely available at teaching institutions. As such, this project aims to improve the surgical skillset of the practicing and trainee surgeons by conducting a series of surgical workshops and teaching lectures in these locations, with the ultimate goal of offering these surgeons the expertise needed for better treatment of congenital urological anomalies and reduce complications.

UChicago faculty lead: Mohan Gundeti, Department of Surgery
Local partners: Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM); Chandigarh Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER)

TransCare Queer Ambassador Program: A Sensitization Drive towards LGBTQIA+ Affirmation and Inclusion across Indian Health Professional School Campuses

Two surveys conducted in Delhi recently revealed that nearly two-thirds of college students surveyed did not feel safe expressing their LGBTQIA+ identity on campus for fear of being ostracized and discriminated against and that campus climate influences the mental and physical well-being of LGBTQIA+ students as well as impacting their academic success. Building off of the Queer Ambassadors (QA) Program piloted in 2021 that connected students with LGBTQIA+ community leaders, this expansion will progress the program towards making health and allied professional campuses LGBTQIA+ inclusive through four measures: establishing student internships aimed to create LGBTQIA+ friendly spaces on campuses, creating a national benchmarking tool to measure LGBTQIA+ inclusion, advocating for said inclusion, and continuing to advocate for making health professional education trans-affirmative.

UChicago faculty leads: Aniruddha Hazra (PI), Marshall Chin, Sonali Paul, John Schneider, Department of Medicine
Local partner: Sangath