In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (EID/REID) have increased since the turn of the millennium. The 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa that resulted in more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths, exposed critical gaps in the region?s capacity to conduct EID/REID research, such as: the lack of clinical experience in EVD; poor health systems infrastructure; the small pool of researchers with expertise and experience in clinical research conduct; and ill-equipped ethical review systems. Research training programs focused on expanding the pool of highly skilled infectious disease research professionals are needed to bridge the aforementioned capacity gaps. Riding on existing collaborations between Makerere University (Uganda) and the University of Minnesota (USA), the consortium led by Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) proposes to develop a research training program focusing on research training in EID/REID with emphasis on viral hemorrhagic fevers, anthrax and zoonotic influenza as prioritized by Uganda?s National One Health Platform. The proposed training program shall leverage the established research and training expertise of the participating institutions. The proposed training program planning process objectives are to: 1) identify priority training gaps and resources needed to undertake the proposed training program; 2) develop a robust strategy/plan for developing a multidisciplinary EID/REID research training program and define the roles of collaborating institutions; 3) define a pool of the best potential trainees and trainee recruitment strategies; and 4) prepare and submit a D43 application for the proposed training program. To achieve these objectives, the consortium shall utilize a consultative approach consisting of two face-to-face consortium meetings, one consultative workshop with key stakeholders, three local workshop meetings with all Ugandan-based collaborators and stakeholders, nine in-depth interviews with subject-matter experts, and several desk review activities. The planning process activities will be spearheaded by a Steering Committee headed by the Program Director and working through various Technical Working Groups. The day-to-day coordination of planning process activities shall be entrusted to the Planning Process Coordinator, who shall work closely with the Steering Committee and the Program Director.
Global trends for emerging and re-emerging infectious disease (EID/REID) incidence have shown that highly infectious microorganism and viral threats, will continue to emerge at an accelerated rate. Over the past 20 years, outbreaks caused by pathogens like filoviruses, Bacillus anthracis, and influenza viruses have cost billions of dollars and lives, particularly in lower and middle income countries where research data and health infrastructure are inadequate to effectively counter these infections. In this application, we propose to strengthen the research collaboration between Ugandan institutions and the University of Minnesota, with a focus on research training to create a pool of highly trained researchers in the field of EID/REIDs.