We propose the Mbarara University Training Initiative (MURTI) at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) to build the capacity of Ugandan junior faculty to conduct medical research focusing on health care disparities in rural Uganda. Over 90% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in rural settings where health disparities are greatest due to limited access to health care combined with limited education and extreme poverty. With its rural location in southwest Uganda, MUST is uniquely positioned to advance the science needed to improve health in rural SSA - in contrast to most SSA research institutions, which are located in urban centers. MUST is a public university founded in 1989 that, with more than $3 million in annual research funding, has shown exponential growth in both its research productivity and its pool of developing junior faculty. In the last 5 years, MUST scientific productivity has grown from 30 to 80 publications yearly, generating 300 to 1200 annual citations. Based on this growth, MUST is now ranked among the top 5% of the 1,306 universities on the African continent. However, most of this scientific productivity has come from senior faculty, and there is a pressing need - as well as strong potential - to train the next generation of Ugandan junior faculty researchers. MURTI training will address three scientific areas of great public health significance in sub- Saharan Africa: HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health disorders. This training initiative will also build expertise in researh administration and research ethics. The proposed MURTI is innovative in its focus on building research capacity in rural settings. It will have particular impact because it will leverage $1.5M/year in ongoing NIH, Gates, and philanthropically funded research in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to provide in-depth training to 20 Ugandan junior faculty who will conduct public sector investigation focused rural health issues. To reach our goal, we propose the following training aims: (1) To develop junior faculty research expertise in HIV prevention and treatment, particularly in rural southwestern Uganda; (2) To build the capacity of Ugandan junior faculty to develop novel, evidence-based diagnostic and treatment strategies for cardiovascular diseases in rural populations; (3) To prepare junior faculty for research careers addressing mental health disorders in rural Uganda; and (4) To equip junior faculty with the administrative, research ethics, and research communications capacities necessary to succeed as the next generation of independent investigators in Uganda. Through these aims, the MURTI will build the capacity of MUST junior faculty to conduct cutting edge social-behavioral, biomedical, and epidemiologic research. These four aims will be supported by technical expertise from leading North American institutions (MGH and the HSPH) that have developed decade-long collaborations with MUST and locally available expertise.

Public Health Relevance

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) accounts for a disproportionate amount of the global burden of disease, and, although 90% of the population in SSA lives in rural area, the vast majority of medical research is led in urban settings. Rural settings have unique health determinants due to structural barriers to health care combined with limited education and severe poverty. MUST, a new and rapidly rising university, is situated in rural southwest Uganda and serves a catchment area of 10M people extending to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Our proposed program to build the capacity of junior Ugandan faculty to conduct medical research focusing on health care disparities in rural Uganda will thus have great potential impact both in Uganda and in other SSA settings. We will focus on HIV and two non-communicable diseases: cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders, which collectively account for 18% of the burden of disease in SSA.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
International Research Training Grants (D43)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel ()
Program Officer
Razak, Myat Htoo
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Mbarara University/Science/ Technology
Zip Code
Wakida, Edith K; Talib, Zohray M; Akena, Dickens et al. (2018) Barriers and facilitators to the integration of mental health services into primary health care: a systematic review. Syst Rev 7:211
Abdallah, Amir; Chang, Jonathan L; O'Carroll, Cumara B et al. (2018) Validation of the Intracerebral Hemorrhage Score in Uganda. Stroke 49:3063-3066
Rukundo, Godfrey Zari; Kemigisha, Elizabeth; Ocan, Moses et al. (2018) A systematic review of the risk factors for suicidal ideation, suicidal attempt and completed suicide among children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa between 1986 and 2018: protocol for a systematic review of observational studies. Syst Rev 7:230
Nakku, Doreen; Nyaiteera, Victoria; Llowet, Evelyn et al. (2017) HIV status and hearing loss among children between 6 and 12 years of age at a large urban health facility in south western Uganda. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 101:172-177
Nampijja, Dorah; Kumbakumba, Elias; Bajunirwe, Francis et al. (2017) Dyslipidemia and its Correlates among HIV Infected Children on HAART Attending Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital. Int Clin Pathol J 4:
Wakida, Edith; Maling, Samuel; Obua, Celestino (2017) Mbarara University Research Training Initiative: a spin-off of the Medical Education Partnership Initiative in Uganda. Adv Med Educ Pract 8:527-533
Wakida, Edith K; Akena, Dickens; Okello, Elialilia S et al. (2017) Barriers and facilitators to the integration of mental health services into primary health care: a systematic review protocol. Syst Rev 6:171
Ashaba, Scholastic; Kaida, Angela; Burns, Bridget Frances et al. (2017) Understanding coping strategies during pregnancy and the postpartum period: a qualitative study of women living with HIV in rural Uganda. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 17:138
Ashaba, Scholastic; Kaida, Angela; Coleman, Jessica N et al. (2017) Psychosocial challenges facing women living with HIV during the perinatal period in rural Uganda. PLoS One 12:e0176256
Atukunda, Esther C; Musiimenta, Angella; Musinguzi, Nicholas et al. (2017) Understanding Patterns of Social Support and Their Relationship to an ART Adherence Intervention Among Adults in Rural Southwestern Uganda. AIDS Behav 21:428-440

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications