The Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) will generate the human capital needed to conduct NCD-related research in general, and especially of NCDs most relevant to the needs of the LMIC (Lebanon) and its region. These include obesity, cardiovascular disorders, and hypovitaminosis D as a common link to both. SHARP will provide superior didactic teaching and hands on practical research experiences to 20 post graduate trainees or faculty members from four collaborating schools: Medicine, Nursing, Health sciences, Agriculture and Nutrition, with Harvard Colleagues. The Program will create and sustain at AUB a cadre of highly trained investigators in patient-oriented as well as population-oriented research from various disciplines: physicians, nurses, epidemiologists, public health officers, policy makers, and nutritionists, interested in pursuing careers in NCD research. The program will also provide trainees with leadership and management skills enabling them to become change-agents in research groups, academic departments, or other health care settings. SHARP spans from short to medium to long term training. The short term training consists of a summer intensive course that provides the essentials in epidemiology, biostatistics, research ethics, library medicine, and a practicum (total 12 credits) that allows the trainee a hands on experience using skills acquired and leads to the SHARP certificate. Candidates may elect to follow with work on an NCD project for 3-6 months (medium training), or proceed with completing the additional curricular requirements that lead to SHARP Master of Sciences degree (long-term training) that can be completed in one to two years. SHARP is a unique multifaceted, novel, and collaborative program at multiple levels: 1) it targets stakeholders engaged in health research from various educational and training backgrounds, 2) it combines a curriculum that addresses the needs of population-oriented as well as patient-oriented research, 3) it combines didactic teaching, with interactive longitudinal seminar series, and an intensive hands-on research experience through a mentored thesis project , 4) it pools resources and disciplines from the various collaborating Schools at AUB, 5) it bridges research and academia, clinical practice, management and health policy, 6) it addresses NCD health needs in Lebanon and the region.
Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD) account for over 50% of health and chronic disabilities in developing countries, and the rate of increase in these disorders in Middle Eastern countries is alarming. Understanding the complexity of factors contributing to an "epidemic" of obesity, and cardiovascular disorders, requires an integrated multidisciplinary approach across health disciplines, linking clinical trials to population-based epidemiologic studies, and consequently from policy-making to implementation of evidence-based interventions. The proposed Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP) consists of a novel collaborative approach to fill the current major gap to address NCDs, in Lebanon and the region.