Women face unacceptably high risks for disability and death in developing countries and there is urgent need for evidence-based interventions to reduce the burden of disease. By virtue of their training and clinical expertise, obstetrician-gynecologists (Ob-Gyns) are uniquely positioned to contribute to the global effort to improve the health of women. Yet, there are surprisingly few opportunities for young Ob-Gyns who seek to develop research careers in this growing field. One of the few existing programs is based at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), where the faculty leading this application have directed a post-residency fellowship since 1999. Despite the academic success of the program's trainees - six past and present fellows have published nearly 130 articles and raised $195 million in grant funding over the last decade - the fellowship has been offered only sporadically. Without dedicated funding, the program has been heavily reliant on project-specific budgets and supplemental department resources, both of which have limited its scope. In this application, experienced research mentors from Zambia, Malawi, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) aim to build upon these past successes and establish the premier training program for global women's health. Like its predecessor, the new UNC Global Women's Health Fellowship will prioritize two years of dedicated research time abroad, where trainees will learn the professional and cultural nuances of international settings, ensure proper oversight of research activities, and foster the collaborations so critical to success in this field. With T32 program support, the program will be further enhanced by four key improvements: (1) Consistent program funding will allow us to institutionalize the current fellowship and provide a sustained training opportunity for Ob-Gyns pursuing academic careers in global women's health. (2) Trainees will complete degree requirements for a Master's of Science in Clinical Research, providing the necessary theoretical framework for later practical training. (3) The new fellowship program will leverage the vast global health expertise at the UNC School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health to expand the scope and depth of academic mentorship. (4) In addition to the established Ob-Gyn post-residency training in Lusaka, Zambia, the fellowship introduces UNC Project-Malawi (Lilongwe, Malawi) as a second training site for women's health research. Trainees will thus have access to two established, internationally renowned institutions where they can gain valuable field experience and mentored research training. A unified focus on trainee progress and program evaluation will ensure that the rigorous academic requirements of this fellowship are met. By the end of the three-year fellowship, graduates will obtain the necessary skills and experience to become independent investigators - and leaders - in the field of global women's health.
There are currently few dedicated training programs for U.S. obstetrician-gynecologists seeking to develop careers in international public health and research. The UNC Global Women's Health Fellowship addresses this critical gap through a comprehensive three-year program that provides didactic training, overseas field experience, and intensive academic mentorship. Upon completion, trainees will have the necessary skills and expertise to become independent investigators and leaders in the field of global women's health.
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