The overarching goal of this proposal is to establish the "QUIPU: Andean Global Health Informatics Research and Training Center," a center of excellence for training and research in global health informatics (GHI) to serve as a hub for addressing the national and regional needs for high-quality training in the Andean Region (AR) at a fraction of the cost of similar training programs in the U.S.
The specific aims of the proposal are: 1. To develop and implement short-term and long-term training opportunities in GHI within the AR;2. To engage emerging investigators in regionally pertinent research in health informatics and bioinformatics;and 3. To expand and consolidate a research network to link researchers in the AR, promoting south^south collaborations, as well as with colleagues from partner universities in the U.S. and other institutions. The Center will expand from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center Detachment (NMRCD) in Lima, Peru, two universities from the AR, the Universidad del Cauca (UCA) in Colombia and the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar (UASB) in Ecuador, and the University of Washington (UW);who will work together as a Consortium to collaboratively implement QUIPU. The proposed program builds on existing and emerging collaborations between the four institutions, as well as a long-standing training-centered collaboration between UPCH and UW through NIH-Fogarty funded programs which allowed the development of a critical mass of trained researchers at UPCH and in Peru. We envision GHI as an umbrella for integrating health informatics and bioinformatics into clinical, biomedical and behavioral research issues that are key to advancing the health of populations in the AR and around the globe. The proposed program includes training and a research component. The training component will offer courses, two Certificate programs (health informatics and bioinformatics), as well as Masters and PhD programs for advanced students. We plan to offer 12 scholarships for short courses, 11 for Certificates, 14 for Masters and 2 for PhD degrees during the 5-year grant. Candidates will be selected from Andean countries with a focus on Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Video conferences and internet-based courses will be used to expand availability to a broader pool of students. The component for research in health informatics will strengthen NIH and non-NIH funded research conducted in the region, by providing competitive research awards, opportunities within already established research projects, and links to other researchers within the networks of collaborating institutions, including a regional research conference.
Within South America, the Andean Region (AR) is the most disadvantaged. However, modern technology such as computers, cellular phones, and other information and communications technologies (ICT) are becoming more widely available in the region. The fields of informatics and global public health are both growing, but we lack an institutionalized effort to train professionals to apply ICT to global health issues in the context of regional needs and to develop health information technology experts capable of linking informatics with health research.
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