Vanderbilt University proposes an informatics training partnership with two leading research institutions in India, the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in Rune and the National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) in Chennai. NARI and NIE are nodal institutes of the Indian Council of Medical Research, providing national level leadership in the field of biomedical and behavioral research in HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, clinical and field epidemiology, and program monitoring and evaluation in India. Through our existing three- institution (VU, NARI, NIE) training and research partnerships in HIV/AIDS and global health-related research, we can enhance utilization of existing informatics training resources already in use at VU (detailed within) for targeted capacity building efforts in response to NARI and NIE's significant informatics needs. We seek to develop capacity at NARI and NIE through collaborative training in research informatics and information management related to clinical, epidemiological, operations, and laboratory/basic science research, with a special emphasis on informatics needs in research related to HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases. Specific focus areas for this training program are: 1) information management of clinical/laboratory databases in clinical trials and epidemiology studies;2) informatics for integrated program monitoring and evaluation, including data management, aggregation/integration, and quality assurance and control;and 3) informatics in research related to molecular virology and genetics. The training will be provided through: targeted India-based short-term training, workshops, and symposia;intermediate-term (6 months) training for NARI/ NIE affiliated scientists in the US;and long-term degree training (M.S. in Informatics) for NARI/ NIE affiliated scientists who will return to India and apply state-of-the-art information and communication technologies to research conducted at their parent institutions. Our training plan addresses the significant challenges of effecting sustainable enhanced informatics capacity by complementing and integrating training with existing funded research collaborations, through dual-advising between VU-based and NARI/NIE-based mentors, and by focusing on informatics to support the core research missions of NARI and NIE.
Despite the central role that informatics plays in global health, many institutions in developing country settings have very few informatics experts and face significant challenges in utilizing information technology infrastructure. Consequently, there is a critical need to train local experts who are able to develop local research applications or modify existing platforms to provide tools that are appropriate for the needs, culture, and infrastructure of their institutions and countries.