The Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP), launched at the American University of Beirut in 2013, with the main goal to advance the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) agenda in Lebanon and the region. It has filled a major gap and spans short-, intermediate-, and long-term research training in the region. SHARP has exceeded pre-set expectations. Several enhancements were implemented since launch based on our Program Evaluation (see Training Program and Progress Report). The past seven years have also allowed us to identify few gaps, challenges and opportunities. These are : 1) interest from potential trainees in the Summer Certificate Program but inability to free full days in a 6-week block to attend on-site; 2) a need for advanced quantitative methods modules; 3) a need for a formal mentoring plan; and 4) scarce sources for research fellowship stipends for trainees to support them develop and complete an NCD project. We therefore build on SHARP?s established and successful core curricula, its solid and multi-disciplinary research training capacity in all three training tracks, capitalize on the powerful tools in information technology, an enlarged and multi-disciplinary panel of teaching faculty and mentors, to expand the Program?s depth, breadth, and impact. Our new activities are to develop and implement the following: 1) a Blended SHARP Certificate spanning over 2 semesters, with identical competencies to the on-site version; 2) advanced research methods modules including data science; 3) the SHARP Career Advancement Network (SHARP CAN) to cultivate a culture of mentorship at the grassroots; and 4) the SHARP Scholars Research Fellowship Grant Program to enhance research productivity. Therefore, SHARP continues to deliver all three training tracks, to further advance its mission. The new Blended Certificate will run in parallel with the established on-site SHARP Summer Program. Both provide the basis to intermediate or long-term training, including the MSc degree. The new advanced modules complement and enrich all training tracks. The refined mentoring plan and new funding mechanism to trainees enriches and strengthens the long-term training experience. Each year, the program continues to enroll 20-25 on-site certificate trainees and 2-3 MSc trainees. Based on surveys we conducted, we anticipate an additional 4-8 trainees to enroll in the new Blended Certificate Program, a cohort we expect to grow steadily over the years, and an additional 4-8 trainees to enroll in any of the advanced quantitative research methods modules; thus totaling 8-16 additional long-term trainees/year. Almost all trainees are medical graduates; few may enroll at the post-doctoral degree level. The research capacity outcomes we will track are: number of trainees enrolled/year, by gender, institution, and region, publications/trainee for the short- term, number of grants written and secured by the trainees for intermediate-term, and trainees? ability to become independent investigators, secure faculty positions in NCD research, address health systems and national health priorities, for long-term term metrics.

Public Health Relevance

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) continue to dominate as a major cause of Health-related morbidity, chronic disabilities, and mortality, exceeding 50% worldwide; the Middle East and North Africa region are no exception. The Scholars in HeAlth Research Program is an interfaculty collaborative initiative that provides short, intermediate, and long-term training, to health professionals engaged in population- based and clinical translational NCD research. Its multidisciplinary and cross-cutting approach integrates a solid curriculum in quantitative skills, advances in science and technology, hands-on applied training, thus providing the basis for effective public heath interventions to promote Health across the life course.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
International Research Training Grants (D43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Michels, Kathleen M
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American University of Beirut
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Rahme, Maya; Al-Shaar, Laila; Singh, Ravinder et al. (2018) Limitations of platform assays to measure serum 25OHD level impact on guidelines and practice decision making. Metabolism 89:1-7
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