UNC Gillings faculty member is PI of $180M USAID grant

July 1, 2014

James Thomas, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at The University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, is the principal investigator on a five-year, $180 million award for the Carolina Population Center’s Monitoring and Evaluation to Assess and Use Results (MEASURE) Evaluation project from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Dr. Jim Thomas, Gillings faculty member and MEASURE Evaluation project director, speaks at a press conference to announce the $180 million USAID award.

Dr. Jim Thomas, Gillings faculty member and MEASURE Evaluation project director, speaks at a press conference to announce the $180 million USAID award.

The award – effective today (July 1) – supports Phase IV of an effort begun in 1997. With possible associate awards from USAID missions and bureaus in other countries, the total award could grow to more than $300 million.

MEASURE Evaluation is USAID’s flagship project for monitoring and evaluating spending on international global health. The project is implemented by a team of organizations led by UNC-Chapel Hill, working with Futures Group, ICF International, John Snow Inc., Management Sciences for Health and Tulane University.

“MEASURE Evaluation has played a key role in an incredibly successful international effort to bend the epidemic curve,” said Thomas, who is project director. “The global community has taken what was an upward trajectory for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and turned it into a downward one. As we continue to address global health issues, we are honored to be entrusted by USAID to carry on the work of MEASURE Evaluation, and we look forward to a strong partnership with USAID for years to come.”

“Including this $180 million award, MEASURE Evaluation has received nearly $600 million in federal funding over the last 17 years,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “This funding is a direct result of the talented and hard-working team of researchers, faculty and students behind the project. We couldn’t be more proud of the great work being led by the Carolina Population Center and their partners.”

To date, MEASURE Evaluation has focused on building the foundations and capacity to enable monitoring and evaluation in developing countries. The objective of Phase IV is to work toward sustainability of that work, strengthening host-country systems that generate high-quality health information used for decision-making at local, national and global levels. Progress toward this objective will contribute to improve health programs and policies, which ultimately impact overall health outcomes. The project will achieve this objective by concentrating on achieving four results:

  • Strengthened collection, analysis and use of routine health data;
  • Improved country-level capacity to manage health information systems, resources and staff;
  • Methods, tools and approaches improved and applied to address health information challenges and gaps; and
  • Increased capacity for rigorous evaluation.

“We will respond to the complexity of this task by applying more systems thinking,” Thomas said. “There are many moving parts affecting each other, and systems thinking provides ways to achieve progress in the midst of complexity.”


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.