The overall objective of this proposal is the strengthening of interdisciplinary research capacity in Ghana, and at the University of Michigan (UM), to develop and test innovations in training methods and in research products to better address global health challenges faced by low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This focus reflects the situational analysis of the West African region suggesting: a) a dearth of junior-to mid-level researchers adequately prepared to seek and obtain extramural support for independent research endeavors, b) complex social, environmental, and health-related problems requiring innovations and interdisciplinary approaches to research to identify and rapidly implement solutions, and, c) the high potential for successful public health interventions resulting from research projects. Our strategies for achieving the goal of strengthening of research capacity for innovation focus on: a) comprehensive joint training of Ghanaian and US post-doctoral scientists who will become future leaders of global health research;b) the building of institutional capacities through a combination of strengthening faculty collaboration and mentoring skills, and development, testing, and dissemination of research training materials using state-of-the-art distributed learning methodologies;and c) strengthening an alliance of academic institutions with governmental organizations responsible for evidence-based implementation of developed innovations. Specific methods to achieve these objectives include: a) joint training and mentoring of Ghanaian and US post-doctoral fellows organized into interdisciplinary teams in intensive programs of 6 months of study at UM followed by 6 months in Ghana to field test innovations;b) bringing Ghanaian mentor senior scientists to UM with their postdoctoral mentees to cement Ghanaian to US mentor collaboration, strengthen mentoring skills, and ensure smooth transition to the conduct of field studies in Ghana;c) supporting UM faculty and information specialists to spend time in Ghana to providing ongoing mentorship for the post-doctoral interdisciplinary teams.
Ghana, like most LMICs, faces complex health challenges. Strengthening interdisciplinary research capacity is critical for developing innovations to address these challenges. This proposal will accelerate building of a strong cadre of post-doctoral scholars who approach solving global health problems in a fundamentally different way: through innovation and interdisciplinary cooperation.
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