This application is in response to RFA-TW-14-003: Limited Competition: Research Training for Career Development of Junior Faculty in Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Institutions (D43) Program. The proposed program is called Developing Research Innovation, Localization and Leadership in South Africa (DRILL). The objectives of this program is to provide mentorship and support to junior faculty at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, build their research and leadership skills, build communities of practice which all respond to the health priorities in South Africa. By the end of the training program, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health will have twenty world-class emerging scientists and junior faculty who will be retained at the academic institution and enrolled into the accelerated development track for leadership. This group of researchers will in turn inspire, train and support others to follow their path. The proposed training program responds to a drive by UKZN and the KZN Department of Health to transform the health care system and education systems in a joint vision so that it becomes socially accountable and responsive the needs of the population it serves. The training program has been designed so that capacity is developed within junior faculty to address the challenges posed by the quadruple burden of disease in South Africa. DRILL will therefore focus on the following four scientific areas including HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, Health Systems Research and Health Professions Education. Many of the activities in the existing UKZN-MEPI Enhancing Training, Research and Education (ENTRE) Program have formed the building blocks for the activities of DRILL which is built on the principles of producing regionally relevant yet globally competitive, scientifically robust research which will have an impact beyond the trainees and the institution. Key activities proposed include mentorship, peer learning, self-directed and online courses, specialized seminars and planned workshops including scientific writing, research methodology, biostatistics, writing for publication, research dissemination, grants management and ethics capacity training. The research will be carried out at various sites across the province particularly within decentralized sites some of which have been established as MEPI Learning Centers within the current UKZN-MEPI ENTRE Program like Bethesda and Murchison Hospitals. There will be two cohorts of ten trainees beginning a year apart. The first cohort will include ten junior faculty, as defined by UKZN; while the second cohort will include a minimum of five trainees from decentralized areas within the provincial health service while additional junior faculty and joint UKZN-DoH appointees will complete the intake. The duration of DRILL will be three to five years with each scientific area having five trainees. DRILL intends that the trainees become future leaders of innovative research which they will share with the rest of the African continent.

Public Health Relevance

The Developing Research Innovation, Localization and Leadership Program is a multidisciplinary research capacity building initiative that will be implemented by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa. The proposed training program builds on the achievements of the UKZN-MEPI Enhancing Training, Research and Education (ENTRE) Program. It will capacitate local junior faculty and health professionals with research skills and knowledge so that they become dynamic leaders within the institution and in the country with the ability to produce high quality research that provides evidence to address four priority health areas for the country viz. Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Mental Health, Health Systems Research and Health Professions Education. The goal of the training program is aligned with both the vision of UKZN and the National Department of Health. The research output by the trainees of the program is anticipated to provide evidence to influence policy and practice within the South African health system.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
International Research Training Grants (D43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-AARR-H (52))
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Razak, Myat Htoo
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University of Kwazulu-Natal
South Africa
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