Each day there are nearly one million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with the highest rate found in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, there are currently very few skilled clinical and basic science investigators working in STI scientific research to lead the battle against this epidemic in Kenya; the brain drain from Africa has contributed to this shortage. For over a decade, Drs. Cohen and Bukusi have collaborated to perform groundbreaking studies while training local scientists in the prevention, etiology and treatment of STIs in Kenya. This collaboration will expand as UCSF and KEMRI develop and carry out STI research protocols supported by the recent, September 2004, NIH award of a $20.6 million seven-year contract to UCSF for a STI Clinical Trials Group (CTG) (NIAID-DMID HHSN266200400074, Craig Cohen, PI). Furthermore, most of the proposed Infectious Disease Research Training Program (IDRTP) faculty mentors are affiliated with the STI CTG at UCSF (Drs. Cohen, Klausner, Padian, and Shiboski) and at KEMRI (Drs. Bukusi and Waiyaki). The intent of the KEMRI-UCSF IDRTP is to train Kenyan masters and doctoral students to perform epidemiological, clinical and basic science STI research in order to develop a multidisciplinary team of researchers. IDRTP, structured as a sandwich program, will select students enrolled in the MSc and PhD program at KEMRI's Institute of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases (ITROMID) interested in STI research. The sandwich program ensures that the final degree be awarded by ITROMID. Scholars will receive enhanced training and support from UCSF faculty mentors throughout their 2-4 year program, and spend 3-12 months during their second year at UCSF to take advanced courses, gain additional laboratory experience and complete development of their research proposal. Scholars will complete their research project after returning to KEMRI. IDRTP will offer Major and Short-Term Pathways; students will enroll in Clinical Epidemiology or Basic Science Tracts. Over the five-year program we will train two PhD and three MSc students in the Major Pathway, and six MSc students in the Short-Term Pathway. Upon completion of the Major Pathway a trainee will complete the following: (i) one-year certificate in Clinical Epidemiology or Biomedical Science at UCSF; (ii) MSc or PhD at ITROMID; (iii) one major research project; (iv) publish as lead author in a peer-reviewed scientific journal; and (v) apply for a grant (e.g. Global Health Research Initiative Program) for professional and research development. Short-Term Pathway scholars will complete: (i) 3-months of advanced coursework at UCSF; (ii) MSc at ITROMID; (iii) one major research project; and (iv) publish as lead author in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. This comprehensive sandwich program will encourage research careers in Kenya and develop the critical mass of investigators necessary to combat the STI epidemic in Kenya and nearby regions.
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