RTI International is opening an office in Seattle and will base a new group focusing on noncommunicable diseases there. The office also builds off RTI’s long-standing relationship with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The office will be led by Rachel Nugent, who joined RTI last year as vice president of Global Noncommunicable Diseases and was based in Seattle. Nugent had been an associate professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington and principal investigator for the Disease Control Priorities Network.

RTI’s Global Noncommunicable Diseases Initiative (NCD) will be “incubated” there, RTI said in Tuesday’s announcement.

“The mission of RTI’s Global NCD Initiative is to join in common cause with others to achieve the NCD target in the sustainable development goals,” Nugent said in a statement.

The new organization is formed around RTI’s experience and expertise in health communication, behavior change, health care economics, epidemiology, biomarker research, disease surveillance and registries as well as medical product development.

The group will include staff drawn from RTI with the mission og providing “policy analysis and implementation of cost-effective strategies for NCD detection, prevention and control,” RTI said.

“RTI’s new Pacific Northwest base will strengthen existing partnerships and establish new ones with key global health organizations in the region, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and PATH,” said Wayne Holden,RTI’s CEO.

PATH is an international, nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle.

RTI has worked with the Gates foundation on a variety of efforts, including water, sanitation, and child health.

“The Seattle office will build on RTI’s west coast presence and connect us with additional opportunities for strengthening relationships with several of our clients,” explained Aaron Williams, executive vice president of Government Relations and Corporate Communications. “Under the direction of Rachel, the office can continue RTI’s commitment to addressing NCDs and create a collaborative space that connects staff members, furthering our commitment to leading forward and improving the human condition.”

RTI International is an international, independent, nonprofit research institute based in RTP.