NIH Fogarty Training Program

Research Training: Socio-Economics of Mental Health Delivery System in South Eastern Europe

Funded by: National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center
Principal investigator: Dr. Richard Scheffler, PhD
co-PI: Razvan Chereches
Project Dates: August 1, 2011 – July 31, 2017

Program Faculty Members:

Howard Goldman
Joan Bloom
Martha Shumway
Martin Potucek
Miroslava Klejnova
Neal Adams
Neal Wallace
Steve Hinshaw
Tea Vukusic Rukavina
Teh-Wei Hu

Program Staff:

Kati Phillips
Ioana Rus
Alina Zlati

About the Training Program:

The University of California, Berkeley and Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania, are to provide advanced, multidisciplinary research training to outstanding pre- and post-doctoral economists, psychiatrists, sociologists, clinicians, and mental health professionals from South Eastern Europe (SEE) in the latest research methods and issues regarding the economic and social factors that influence or drive the delivery of mental health care services.

We built upon the successful “Finance and Mental Health Services Training in Czech Republic/Central Europe (5-D43-TW005810-10). Prof. Richard Scheffler, University of California, Berkeley, has been the PI and co-Director of this program for the past ten years. The other co-Director has been Prof. Martin Potucek, Charles University, Prague. During its span, the program has trained over sixty people from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia. The program has been highly successful by all measures, with over 150 publications and 3 books by its trainees.

Because the Czech Republic is now a high-income economy, we will replace Charles University with a new partner. We propose that the new partner be the new School of Public Health at Babes-Bolyai University (, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. SPH-BBU will serve as the hub of the program in Europe, attracting and screening candidates, and fostering their subsequent career development. Berkeley will continue to be the primary training site, providing senior faculty to mentor the trainees as they take classes, participate in seminars, and engage in research projects in their home countries. The current co-Director is Razvan Chereches, MD, Ph.D., Babes-Bolyai University. Dr. Chereches has himself been a trainee and a project leader in our previous program. He has also participated in other NIH programs: University of Iowa International Training and Research in Occupational and Environmental Health Program, Fogarty International Center – D43 TW000621; Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research and Training, Fogarty International Center- T37 MD001453-05; and University of Iowa International Collaborative Trauma and Injury Prevention Research and Training Program, Fogarty International Center – D43 TW007261.

Our program has now expanded from the Czech Republic into four other countries in the region, we intend to start from Romania and Bulgaria, and expand into other LMICs in SEE. The countries of interest currently include Albania, Moldova, and Serbia, but other countries of the former Yugoslavia will also be considered. Expansion into any country always depends on identifying an appropriate institution and persons who can help support qualified and interested trainees.


Gabrani, Jonila, Neal Wallace, Adriatik Gabrani, and Joan Bloom. “Egalitarianism in Health Care – Pros and Cons; The Imperative for Innovative Lens in Western Balkans.” Management in Health (2015): 12-16. Read here.


Project Title: Assessments of Psychiatrists’ Workplace Preferences

Ioana Alexandra Duşe – Romania

IonaIoana Alexandra Duşe, MSc is currently a research assistant in the Occupational and Environmental Health Unit within the Cluj School of Publice Health, Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania. Ioana has a BA in Political Science and an MSc in Research Design and Data Analysis in Social Sciences. In 2011 she received a Fogarty Scholarship within the Environmental and Occupational Health Program at the University of Iowa, College of Public Health, USA. Most of the projects in which she is involved are focusing on occupational health research, with a current focus on early predictors of job burnout, engagement, workforce retention and stress in the workplace. Besides these research areas she is also interested in environmental health policy topics and social science studies.

Marius Ungureanu – Romania

MariusMarius I. Ungureanu, MD is the coordinator of the Health Policy & Management Unit within the Cluj School of Public Health, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Dr. Ungureanu’s research interests lie at the intersection of medicine, public health and health administration. Specifically, he is interested in health workforce management, leadership and healthcare reform, quality management in healthcare, participation in healthcare and health services management. Dr. Ungureanu is leading or contributing to research projects in a wide range of public health topics, such as health professionals’ mobility, health systems design, dental services delivery and cancer control.


Project Title: How Prepared are Mental Healthcare Systems to Address the Mental health Needs of the Aging Population?

Aleksandra Milićević-Kalašić – Serbia

AleksandraAleksandra Milićević-Kalašić, holds a doctorate in medical science on neuropsychiatric disorders in the elderly after finishing her four year training in neuropsychiatry, and holds a master’s degree in neuropsychology. She became an associated researcher in psychiatry at the School of Medicine University of Belgrade. She was a founder of Department of Mental Health and Pain Treatment in Institute of Gerontology, Palliative Care and Home treatment, where she still works, improving systematical approach for elderly, disabled, functionally dependent people with highly present psychiatric and neurologic disorders. She has been a Professor at the Specialized Medical School in Belgrade since 2011, Associate Professor at the Singidunum University in the Department for Social Work since 2013, forensic expert since 1996. Aleksandra worked as a National Counterpart in WHO Mental Health programs from 2003-2011. She has presented and published more than 100 articles in Serbia and abroad, and is an active member of IPA (International Psychogeriatric Association) from 1991; formerly as associate editor of IPA bulletin (1997-2012) and in panel of Int.Psych.Journal (2007-2013). She has been the co-chair of OAP section of WPA since 2013.

Ermelinda Durmishi – Albania

ErmelindaErmelinda Durmishi, was born in June 26, 1982, Memaliaj City, Tepelena District, in Albania. She graduated  General High School “Sali Nivica,” Memaliaj in 2000. With a scholarship granted by the Albanian state, she continued her studies, graduating in Political Science, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest, Romania, with the research theme “The State as the Main Actor of International Relations”. Her studies have continued in Romania with masters studies in International Relations, University of Bucharest; in Public law, University of Craiova; and in National and Euro – Atlantic security. In 2009, Ermelinda won the right to continue doctoral studies at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, with the research thesis “The Role of the State in Contemporary Society: the Welfare State at the Beginning of the 21st century in Europe,” with a case study in the Albanian welfare state from 2000-2012. During doctoral studies, 2011 – 2012, she conducted a research experience at the University of Florence through ERASMUS scholarship. The major field of her research thesis is focused in the “welfare state” as one of the recurrent and favorite topics of the current public and political agenda and, at the same time, as a controversial topic, systematically discussed in the attempt to provide answers and solutions by the coordination of the social policies’ reforms in different areas, as employment, poverty and social exclusion, pensions, etc.

Ermelinda has a significant scientific background: participation in national and international conferences; publications: as co-author of two books, published in Albania an as author of different papers published in magazines indexed CNCSIS (B+) RATED, EBSCO, Copernicus, GESIS, Genamics JournalSeek, WorldCat Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, NewJour-Georgetown Library.

Raluca Sfetcu – Romania

RalucaRaluca Sfetcu, MA(HRMgt), PhD, works at the National School of Public Health Management and Health Education as a Faculty of Psychology USH Bucharest. She is also a part of the Romanian Academy’s Institute of Economic Prognosis, Bucharest, Romania. She is interested in mental health systems action research with a main focus on identifying ways of supporting the development of balanced services in low resources contexts, also by analyzing systems’ financing as well as the direct and indirect impact of resource allocation on systems’ performance. She has previous experience of working in international research projects in the area of health services research (REFINEMENT) and is currently involved in teaching and conducting research with large administrative databases in the framework of a FP7 funded project (CEPHOS-LINK). Past experiences include working for the National Centre for Mental Health and for an EU funded twining project with the main focus on reforming the mental health system in Romania, as well as serving as external reviewer for a SDC funded project in Moldova, dealing with the development of community mental health services.


Project title: Improve the Mental Health Referral System in Oncology Care

Alexandra Sidor – Romania

AlexandraAlexandra Sidor has a bachelor’s and a master’s in Psychology. For three years, she has been working as a research technician at the Cluj School of Public Health, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. In 2013, she improved her research skills by studying for one semester at the University of Iowa. Until 2014, she worked in a project aiming to prevent mental health problems in adolescents; since the beginning of 2014, she has been the principal investigator in a project addressing nutrition literacy in adolescents and the Co-PI in the project Improving the Mental Health Referral System in Oncology Care, funded by the University of California, Berkeley. Her main research interests are mental health literacy, mental illness prevention during adolescence, mental health and quality of life in chronic disorders.

Predrag Đurić – Serbia

PredragPredrag Đurić is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, where he was a chair of Epidemiology Department. He also holds a position at the Institute of Public Health of Vojvodina, Novi Sad. He has published over 130 papers and edited and written several books, including Introduction to Research, published by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Novi Sad, 2012 (first edition) and 2012 (second edition). He also works as a United Nations Development Programme as an international lead consultant for sustainable financing in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Sanja Harhaji – Serbia

SanjaSanja Harhaji, MD, PhD(c), specialist in social medicine, graduated at the University of Novi Sad, Medical Faculty in 2006, completed her postgraduate master studies in 2011 and is currently a student on postgraduate doctoral studies in the field of Public Health. She has been working at the Institute of Public Health of Vojvodina (Novi Sad, Serbia) since 2007, at first, in the Centre for Informatics and Biostatistics in Health Care, and currently in the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. She is also a Teacher Assistant at the Department of Social medicine and Medical statistics with Informatics at Medical Faculty, University of Novi Sad.

Experience on mental health research, she has gained by studying demographic and socio-economic determinants of mental health in the population within master thesis and by analyzing the prevalence of mental disorders in the Province of Vojvodina through specialization thesis. Currently, she is working on a doctoral dissertation regarding social-medical aspects of depression. She has been participating at the Fogarty Fellowship Research Training: Socio-Economic Determinants of Mental Health Service Delivery in South-Eastern Europe since 2012 and has been involved in four projects.


Book Project Participants

Ariel Çomo – Albania

ArielAriel Çomo, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Tirana Medical University, is currently the Clinical Head of the Psychiatry Division, Department of Neuroscience, Tirana University Hospital Center (“Mother Tereza”). Since November 2014, he has been the Deputy Dean for Continuing Medical Education at the Faculty of Medicine, Tirana Medical University; member of the Directors’ Council of postgraduate schools in Neurosciences (including General Psychiatry and, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry); member of the National Steering Committee on Reforming the Mental Health Sector, and member of the working group on developing inter-sectorial strategy on Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Since 2010, Ariel has been the National Coordinator at the South East European Autism Network, and Scientific Director of the Tirana Regional Center on Autism. From 2008 – 2014, he served as the General Deputy Director of the University Hospital Center.

Dr. Çomo received his M.D. in 1994 and completed his postgraduate residency in Psychiatry in 1999 at the Tirana Faculty of Medicine, with a specialization course in Child Neuropsychiatry at the University of Pavia, Italy, and a doctoral degree on ‘Trans- generational Transmission of Trauma’ at the Tirana University. He served as Consultant for the ‘Albanian Rehabilitation Center on Trauma and Torture’, ‘International Organization of Migration’ and other non-governmental actors or programs in different periods.

Georgi Hranov – Bulgaria

GeorgiGeorgi Hranov has master degrees in Human Medicine and in Communal Health and Healthcare Management. Currently he is the president of Scientific Society of Neuropsychopharmacology and neurosciences in Bulgaria. He is working as psychiatrist and CBT psychotherapist in University hospital of active treatment in neurology and psychiatry “St Naum” in Sofia, Bulgaria and in a private practice. He is assistant professor in Medical University – Sofia, Bulgaria teaching students, GPs and specialists. He is involved in conduction of international research and clinical trials with primary interests in the field of anxiety and mood disorders, CBT, and public health. He is consultant and lecturer for pharmaceutical companies and associate editor of Journal of Psychiatry.

Jonila Gabrani – Albania

Jonila Gabrani is an assistant researcher and assistant lecturer at University of Medicine, Faculty of Public Health, Tirana, Albania. Her interest and main subjects she covers are related to health management, health workforce and performance of health services. In the last two years, she has been actively involved in health issues at European Health Management Association (EHMA) conferences (Bern 2012 and Milan 2013) and Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) events, and constantly tries to investigate the keen issues affecting health in Albania, contextualizing the topics into the Eastern European frame.

Larisa Boderscova – Moldova

LarisaLarisa Boderscova, MD, PhD in Public Health (2005), Master in advocacy, social policy and public mental health (2006), graduated from Chisinau State Medical University in 2000 with the diploma of General Practitioner; in 2002 – specialization in Public Health and at graduation received a license in Public Health, Manager of Health Services.

During the period of 2002-2007, as a staff of National Center on Health Management, she was directly involved in implementation of several projects at governmental level, namely Stability Pact Project in Mental Health for South-Eastern Europe as National Coordinator and Country Project Manager 2003-2007 and in 2003 became WHO Consultant in Mental Health. During her professional carrier, she has supported national and international civil society organizations in promotion of the equal rights and opportunities for people with mental health problems, HIV status and other vulnerable groups; conducted trainings in Mental Health, Mother and Child Health, Adolescent Health, etc. Larisa has continued her personal development within the areas health policy development, policy dialogue, health systems, performance management, total quality management, leadership and communication, public health, training programs development and performance and permanent negotiations with partners and stakeholders. In 2008, she became a UNICEF staff for Early Childhood development program, and since 2009, has been a part of the World Health Organization team.

Maria Stoyanova – Bulgaria

MariaMaria Stoyanova is a psychiatry trainee as well as a PhD student at the University Hospital for Active Treatment in Neurology and Psychiatry (“Sveti Naum”) in Sofia, Bulgaria. The topic of her PhD is related to bipolar disorder, mild neurological signs and impulsivity. She is also a neurologist and has defended a doctoral thesis focused on Parkinson’s disease in Hannover, Germany.