The University of Nebraska-Lincoln - in collaboration with Zambian partners - has been administering a NIH Fogarty International Center Training Program to develop the infrastructure and research capacity in Zambia to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and management of HIV- and AIDS-associated diseases since 2000. While the program has found great success in advancing these goals, it is coming to an end this year, and the partner institutions are proposing to implement a new and more focused training program to address a critical health problem in the region: AIDS-associated cancers. With the addition of a new partner, the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH), the goal of this program is to train a cadre of Zambian biomedical researchers and practitioners in the skills necessary to further the country's research agenda in cancer biology and prepare the country for the new era of cancer genomics for the diagnoses and treatment of cancers. The CDH - which is located on the UNZA and UTH campuses and is the only major cancer treatment center in Zambia - will serve as the main in-country low- and middle-income country institution for the proposed program. Since its establishment in 2006, the CDH has made significant advances in developing its capacity to treat and conduct research on cancer, but there remains a significant need for additional and better trained cancer researchers and oncologists. To train and retain such personnel in Zambia, the program design is organized around the following specific aims, each focused on different types of training: 1) Provide intensive academic instruction and research experience for four Zambian fellows to receive an MSc, MPH, or MMed degree in a relevant cancer research field (two years of training for each fellow); 2) Provide intensive academic instruction and research experience for two Zambian fellows leading to receipt of a PhD in a relevant cancer research field (five years of training for each fellow); 3) Provide medium-term (six months) technical training opportunities for five post-graduates in topics related to molecular pathology, cancer biology, and genomics; and 4) Deliver workshops designed to enhance basic, clinical, implementation, and behavioral cancer research capability and infrastructure in Zambia and expand collaborations among the partner institutions (over 500 total workshop participants are expected, including clinicians, researchers, and public health personnel). The outcomes of the proposed program will include Zambian biomedical researchers and cancer healthcare providers trained in cancer genomics, cancer diagnostics, pathology and molecular tools, and cancer epidemiology; new infrastructure and tools to aid these individuals in their work; and the retention of these trained personnel at Zambian institutions, where will be employed upon the completion of their training where there will be a sustainable research infrastructure to support cancer clinical and research programs in Zambia.
While AIDS-associated cancers are a major cause of death around the globe, those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are much more likely to die from cancer due to shortages of trained cancer researchers, oncologists, and support staff and a lack of healthcare infrastructure and expertise for diagnosing and treating cancers. The proposed program will train a cadre of Zambian biomedical researchers and practitioners from the Cancer Diseases Hospital (the main LMIC institution) and partnering organizations in the skills necessary to further the country's research agenda in cancer biology and genomics. Upon completion of master's and doctoral training, program fellows will be provided employment in Zambian medical institutions in order to begin addressing these challenges in-country.
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