Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world with 85% of infections occurring in low and lower middle income countries (LMIC). Nearly all cervical cancer is due to persistent HPV infection with 87% of all cervical cancer deaths occurring in LMIC. Detecting, preventing, and treating HPV infection is thus a major health priority for the country and the region. Aga Khan University East Africa (AKU) is a premier medical and nursing academic institution uniquely situated to address global infectious diseases and HPV. It is a growing university with campuses in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, and it has initiated the first clinical infectious diseases (ID) fellowship for medical doctors in East Africa. However, in order to achieve its goal to become a top research institution, AKU needs further research capacity building and support to train a critical mass of health researchers at AKU with in-depth scientific expertise. The objectives of this proposal are to: 1) increase research into the prevention, detection, and treatment of HPV infection and its impact on cancer; 2) strengthen the capacity of AKU to conduct research in infectious diseases; and 3) expand knowledge and skills in clinical research across AKU campuses in East Africa. The proposed research training program will be led by Drs. Marleen Temmerman and Michael Chung who will be Multiple Program Directors. Together, they will partner AKU with the University of Washington (UW) and its extensive history of successfully implementing research training programs in Kenya. The UW has trained hundreds of Kenyans in health research for over 30 years. UW is also home to a world-renowned HPV Research Group led by faculty experts from the UW and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Drs. Temmerman and Chung will establish a joint research training program for Kenyans with three tracks of varying duration. The long-term track will allow AKU ID fellows to earn a UW Master?s in Public Health (MPH) degree by taking classes in Seattle and conducting fieldwork in Kenya; the medium-term track will invite AKU medical and nursing faculty researchers for 3 months of classes at UW followed by a mentored project in Kenya; and the short-term track will give an opportunity for AKU faculty, staff, and students throughout East Africa to learn grant and manuscript writing and leadership skills through in-person workshops in Nairobi, Kenya and online courses from the UW. A total of 3 AKU ID fellows will earn MPH degrees at the UW, 10 AKU faculty members will undergo non-degree coursework at the UW, and hundreds of trainees will take the workshops and online courses. After graduating, the ID fellows will be offered academic medical positions at AKU and join faculty and staff who have been trained in the medium- and short-term courses at AKU to build sustainable research capacity. By the end of the program, AKU faculty will be able to conduct quality HPV research, publish in internationally-recognized journals, conduct courses to train the next generation of HPV scientists, and independently obtain extramural grants to support their work.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed program will support human papillomavirus (HPV) research training at Aga Khan University East Africa (AKU) by building upon its clinical infectious diseases (ID) fellowship, which is one of only two offered in the region, and focusing on nursing as well as medical research faculty. HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease worldwide and is the primary cause for cervical cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer mortality for women in Kenya and East Africa. AKU will partner with the University of Washington (UW) to train: 1) AKU ID fellows who will earn Master?s in Public Health degrees at the UW; 2) AKU medical and nursing faculty who will take 3 months of coursework in epidemiology and biostatistics at the UW; and 3) AKU faculty, staff, and students who will enroll in week-long workshops in Nairobi, Kenya or take online courses delivered by UW faculty on research manuscript and grant writing and complementary leadership skills.

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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Sina, Barbara J
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Aga Khan University (Pakistan)
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