Advanced training in Community Based HIV Research In Zimbabwe with one of the highest HIV burdens in the world, data and samples collected in community based research can contribute valuable information to improve prevention and care. Building new skills and capacity for molecular epidemiology and genomics focuses on the best use of these resources. Training in the interdisciplinary continuum of basic lab research skills, bioinformatics, modeling and data science for relevant, ethical research will address Zimbabwe's National and NIH/Fogarty goals. We propose a 3- pronged approach: To develop research skills: We will conduct short course training for students and post-graduates to develop the skills underpinning contemporary community based research, to design innovative studies integrating geolocation, epidemiologic and molecular research methods to interpret data on HIV transmission and prevention. We propose to introduce and promote the use of bioinformatics, to develop skills in phylogenetic, host and viral genetics that can be applied to address the ongoing epidemic. To promote research at doctoral level: We request support for 5 PhD students, from biologic, social science or medical disciplines. Students registered with universities in Zimbabwe will identify suitable projects and mentors to conduct HIV research relevant to Drug resistance, Genomics and Pathogenesis of HIV in community based studies. Support will include payment of fees and a modest stipend; academic supervision and mentoring from local and/or international experts will be compensated to ensure interdisciplinary scientific development and quality of postgraduate outcomes. To develop future research leadership. This can be achieved by supporting postdoctoral fellows to conduct research in a mentored environment to develop research management, mentoring and grant writing skills to sustain their research career. The position of ?Postdoctoral Fellow? is uncommon in African academic circles. As a research institution, the BRTI will permit Postdoctoral fellows to focus on developing leadership skills, implementing and analyzing ongoing projects. Fellows will design and manage their own projects and research teams, interpret data, articulate and present findings to peers under the guidance of mentors and complete applications for a research grant during their tenure. This 3-pronged approach will effectively build advanced health research capacity filling critical gaps in current HIV research in Zimbabwe. The activities and training will be directed towards combining new scientific methods to address the public health priorities of key populations: children, adolescents and young women, in community settings. The evaluation strategies will include formative and summative evidence of activity and output. Outcome assessment will encompass through evaluations of student and fellow achievements, presentations and publications, and their impact on policy and stakeholders.
This application from the BRTI responsive to Fogarty HIV Research Training Program for Low-and Middle-Income Country Institutions will build capacity at academic institutions in Zimbabwe for laboratory, data science and genomics for excellence in HIV research. The program combines individual level and institutional level capacity building by training young researchers from a variety of disciplines in the skills required to formulate, conduct and report on research related to HIV drug resistance, prevention, pathogenesis and transmission. Effective training of PhDs and postdoctoral fellows to become research leaders, mentors and supervisors will mitigate brain drain and develop academic and scientific leadership to guide public health policy and practice at national level.