This application is to establish the UNC-Malawi Cancer Consortium (UNC-MCC), to develop capacity and conduct high-impact research focused on HIV-associated cancers. The consortium builds on longstanding collaborations between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), Lighthouse Trust, Malawi Ministry of Health, and University of Malawi College of Medicine (COM). These partnerships have resulted in internationally recognized contributions for HIV care and prevention in sub-Saharan Africa. This infrastructure can now be leveraged for HIV-associated malignancies. UNC-MCC is focused on the herpesvirus-associated cancers, Kaposi sarcoma (KS), and lymphoma. Our consortium will be led by three principal investigators with highly complementary expertise (Satish Gopal MD, clinical research;Sam Phiri PhD, implementation science;Blossom Damania PhD, virology). The Mentoring/Career Development Core (Mentoring Core) for the consortium will be led by Mina Hosseinipour MD MPH, and George Liomba MBBS FRCPath, both from UNC Project-Malawi. Both are highly prolific mentors with decades of experience mentoring clinical investigators in Malawi. Supporting them are an established group of mentors in Malawi and at UNC-CH, who have been enlisted to provide mentorship in key content areas prioritized by consortium partners. Mentoring Core activities will build on existing NIH grants to increase human research capacity. The core will also leverage existing partnerships with COM, including its postgraduate clinical training programs and medical school. The Mentoring Core will be focused on the following aims: (1) develop Malawian investigators who successfully compete for independent funding focused on HIV-associated malignancies;(2) create a 'Mentor the Mentors'program to develop Malawian clinicians or researchers, who can serve as independent mentors to medical students, public health students, and postgraduate trainees;and (3) provide at least eight pilot grants to promising Malawian investigators to obtain preliminary data for larger grant applications, and support high-quality postgraduate dissertations related to HIV-associated malignancies. Through these aims, Mentoring Core will support the overall UNC-MCC aim to develop human capacity and infrastructure in Malawi, specifically for HIV-associated cancer research..
The UNC-Malawi Cancer Consortium will address herpesvirus-associated cancers in the HIV-infected population in Malawi through research and capacity building. The Mentoring Core will support the academic development of Malawian investigators who are dedicated to HIV-associated cancer research, to achieve overall consortium aims.