This proposal is the second renewal of our originally funded Fogarty International Center application (D43 TW005884) entitled, Training and Research in Severe Malarial Anemia and the additional program we established with supplemental funding entitled, Expanding Research on Severe Malarial Anemia to Include Training and Research in the Areas of HIV/Malaria Co-Infections. The International Malaria Training and Research Program (IMTRP) was established in 2002 (Perkins, PD/PI). During the last cycle of funding, the trainees were highly prolific generating 23 peer-reviewed manuscripts (3 in press) and 52 presentations at international meetings. Based on the highly successful nature of our activities, we plan to continue training endemic area scientists in state-of-the art technologies and quantitative analyses in genetics and molecular immunology. In addition, we will expand our training platform to meet the growing demands of the scientific community in Kenya and internationally. The expanded program will include training in drug and vaccine discovery and biostatistics. Our strategic approach for training relies on previous and ongoing success in genetics that have identified a number of important genes and gene pathways that influence severe malarial anemia (SMA) which will now guide the development of novel treatment options. Engagement of trainees in drug and vaccine discovery comes at an opportune time since the treatment and management of SMA around the globe has been met with very limited success. Moreover, an essential requirement for success in all scientific arenas is biostatistics, yet there is a critical shortage of biostatisticians in sub-Saharan Africa. This challenge will be directly addressed by providing long-term training in this important area. The three scientific focus areas selected for training (genetics and molecular immunology, drug and vaccine discovery, and biostatistics) will be supported by internationally recognized experts at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and at our long-standing (10 years) partner sites in Kenya, Kenyatta University, Maseno University, and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). Collectively, the training platform will be supported by more than $35 million in annual direct funding by the Faculty Mentors. In the renewal application, we propose to provide training for three doctoral students who are currently completed their MSc programs with support from the IMTRP. In addition, we propose to provide postdoctoral training for one Kenyan mentee that is completing his PhD and two postdoctoral fellows (per year) that will spend 11 months per annum on-site at UNM receiving state-of-the-art training in the one of the three focus areas. Since we are now in the fortunate position of having trained some members of the IMRTP from the doctoral level through completion of their postdoctoral fellowships, we will expand our activities to include long-term training of junior faculty. We propose to provide support for two junior faculty members per year as the trainees matriculate and procure faculty positions at either Kenyatta or Maseno Universities. In addition to the long-term training described, we will also provide medium-term training by having an equal representation of the Kenyan junior faculty, postdoctoral, and doctoral mentees spend three months per year at UNM for specialized training in one of the three focus areas (3 per year). Lastly, we will provide short-term, in-depth training to junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, doctoral and medical students, and masters'level trainees through annual workshops that focus on (1) genetics and molecular immunology (2) drug and vaccine discovery (3) epidemiology and biostatistics (4) pathogenesis and hematology (5) clinical management of pediatric infectious diseases and (6) bioethics. The short-term training will take place at the KEMRI research facility in western Kenya and will be taught by scientific experts from the US and Kenya. The overall training paradigm designed in the renewal application will ensure that all trainees in the IMTRP receive the required technical and intellectual expertise to conduct independent research for the control and prevention of malarial anemia and other pediatric infectious diseases. Continuation of our highly successful training program will also provide the necessary technology transfer and capacity building required for establishing a critical mass of Kenyan scientists to address the challenging public health problems facing their society.
In the proposed continuation of our research training program, we have assembled a multidisciplinary team of investigators from the US and Kenya to provide training in three scientific target areas (1) genetics and molecular immunology (2) drug and vaccine discovery and (3) biostatistics. These focus areas were strategically selected so that our long-, medium, and short-term training plans for endemic area scientists can provide important capacity building in Kenya and achieve maximal impact for the prevention and management of their public health challenges.
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