The HIV research agenda in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is far-reaching. Much of it has been developed and carried out in partnership with institutions in the United States, Canada, and Europe, leading to gains in local capacity in terms infrastructure and professional development of scientists and physicians. One important domain where capacity building lags well behind is biostatistics and quantitative sciences: African biostatisticians are severely under-represented in international research teams, and many HIV research programs in SSA continue to rely on their western partners for implementation of advanced methods for design and analysis. Moreover, because most leading universities in SSA do not provide graduate-level training in statistics for health research, the pipeline is not being filled. Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya is typical in this regard. Although Moi is the secon university in Kenya and is associated with one of the largest HIV care and research programs in SSA, its College of Health Sciences has only one PhD-level biostatistician on faculty, no biostatistics courses beyond the introductory level. The Department of Statistics and Computer Science at the School of Biological and Physical Sciences offers advanced statistics courses, but they are highly theoretical in nature, with little or no connection to applications in health-related research, let alone HIV. Finally, the small number of African statisticians with advanced training working in HIV research centers in SSA tend to be geographically isolated from their peers, limiting opportunities for professional development and exchange of ideas that are necessary for high-quality scientific research. The proposed training program will respond to this need by establishing a partnership between Moi University Brown University. The program will expand research and curricular capacity in HIV-related biostatistics and advanced quantitative methods at Moi and lay the foundation for sustainable growth in this field by accomplishing the following Specific Aims: (1) providing graduate-level training in biostatistics and related fields,at Brown University, to highly qualified Kenyan candidates; (2) facilitating revision and expansion of the biostatistics curriculum at Moi through faculty development and close consultation with Brown faculty; (3) establishing an annual workshop on advanced biostatistical methods at Moi that will offer short-term training and ongoing professional development activities for faculty members and professionals with throughout SSA. This proposal builds directly upon the recent success of the Brown Fogarty AITRP. Since 2008, this program has supported graduate-level training in biostatistics and epidemiology for 4 Kenyan students, and in 2014 sponsored a highly successful one-week workshop on Causal Inference and Missing Data at Moi.
Expert statistical analysis is fundamental to generating high-quality research that ultimately informs evidence-based practices used to combat HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. This proposal responds to the acute need for building statistical and data analytic capacity for HIV research in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa by laying the groundwork for a university program suitable for training the next generation of experts in HIV data science.