The overall objective of this HIV research training program is to increase capacity of the College of Medicine (COM), University of Malawi and other local institutions to conduct research in non-communicable disease complications of HIV/AIDS. The COM currently conducts HIV related studies, but through strategic training and capacity building, it will move toward a deliberate, coordinated research and clinical service agenda in this emerging and challenging area for countries with limited resources and competing priorities. Through a balance of short, medium, and long-term degree and non-degree training opportunities at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), in-country and regionally, this training program will increase skills in the following concentrations which are essential to research in non-communicable diseases (NCDs): the science and epidemiology of HIV-related and treatment-related complications;the design of randomized and observational clinical research studies;the acquisition of new clinical assessment and investigation skills, including applied laboratory methods, biopsies and imaging, to implement these studies;the responsible conduct of research;and data analysis, translation and dissemination of information to the scientific community. Trainees will be linked to program faculty in their selected area of specialization;as such, the program director and senior key collaborator have formed a multidisciplinary team of program faculty from African and U.S. institutions. Increased research capacity will be measured at two levels: the level of the trainee, which includes numbers of individuals trained, dissemination of trainee research, and integration into HIV-related NCD research and planning at COM and other institutions in Malawi;and the level of the institution, which includes successful research awards for HIV complications research and establishing an institutional research strategy including specific targets. A critical and unique element of the training setting for the JHU-COM collaboration is the 20+ years of research in HIV in Blantyre, Malawi and the existing infrastructure from which to build upon to support local and global research efforts in HIV- related NCDs. At the completion of the training grant period, the JHU-COM training collaboration will have strengthened local human capacity in Malawi and created a critical mass of highly trained individuals to address the emerging needs of patients and populations with HIV- and treatment-related NCD complications. While the JHU-COM collaboration has demonstrated its capacity for successful, independent HIV research, the new Fogarty HIV Research Training Program will be an innovative and important addition to establish an African research setting for regional training in HIV-related complications.
The JHU-COM collaboration in Malawi has made significant contributions to the field of HIV prevention and treatment for more than 20 years. In order to capitalize on this infrastructure to research emerging issues in HIV, we propose to expand the pool of experts at the COM who can lead and implement studies on non-communicable disease complications of HIV and HIV treatment. With increasing numbers of individuals initiating lifelong HIV-treatment and subsequent increases in survival, the COM needs individuals with basic and advanced clinical training who can support clinical research on HIV complications.