The Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (Tulane) and Njala University (NU) propose to establish a framework to assess research and workforce capacity at NU and to create an environment for sustainable and independent research on emerging viruses and other epidemic-prone pathogens. The objective of this proposal is to develop a strategic plan that integrates NU's needs and priorities with the technical expertise of existing and future external partners in the context of the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHRs) and the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The long-term objective is to build a sustainable training program to help provide Sierra Leone and West Africa with the skilled and independent African scientists needed to lead the fight against the emerging viruses that plague their countries. The activities to be employed to meet the stated objective are: 1. Conduct a needs assessment for research and training at NU in order to enhance the institution's capacity to meet IHR 2005 and GHSA objectives 2. Hold a Research and Training Summit of all relevant stakeholders at NU to evaluate and discuss the strengths and weaknesses noted in the Needs Assessment and draft an initial strategic plan 3. Use the information and perspective garnered from the Needs Assessment and Research and Training Summit to develop a 5-year strategic plan for research and training on emerging viruses and outbreak control at NU. This will include the development and submission of a training grant proposal to FIC-NIH.
Our primary goal is to develop a cadre of independent scientists at Njala University that are able to address and respond to emerging viral diseases and epidemics that occur in their country. We will conduct a research needs assessment of the university and disseminate the findings at a Research and Training Summit which will involve many research and training partners. Key targeted outputs of the Summit include a Strategic Plan for Epidemic Research at Njala University and submission of a training grant proposal to the Fogarty International Center. The setting of an academic institution ensures that the training and research capacity building to be planned in this proposal will have a lasting and sustained impact for decades.