During the last two decades, there has been increased appreciation of the role biomedical and biobehavioral research play in strengthening of systems and understanding of population health. In Uganda most of the biomedical and biobehavioral research is developed and funded by investigators from the developing countries from the US and Europe. Funding agencies have lately developed stringent pre and post award requirements and reporting regulations that require researchers to have certain competencies and skills to be able to meet the set expectations. In Uganda, the majority of research institutions have weak research administration systems, investigators have inadequate skills to compete favorably, the few that are engaged in scientific writing are over burdened by research administrative functions limiting their involvement in grant/research development, and information on available funding opportunities not consistently accessible. Although both Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) have implemented NIH funded research in the past, the funding has been secured based on applications developed by US Collaborating institutions and primary grants management activities are carried out in the US utilizing the strong infrastructure at the US institutions. Estimates at the 3 institutions indicate that less than 33% of faculties/technical staff is activel engaging in some form of scientific writing, less than 50% have access to funding source information and less than 40% engage actively with research mentors on a regular basis. Designed as public private partnership (PPP) and to leverage resources at the 3 partner institutions, the proposed Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Research Administration (SICRA) project will strengthen research capacity at the three institutions by strengthening infrastructure for research administration functions, targeted training to improve research development competencies, supporting structural adjustments to create a sustainable research environment, and supporting the development of pre and post award processes. The EA working with guidance from the Mentor will be responsible for the overall leadership of the grant, utilizing resources at MUWRP. The goal of this proposal is to obtain funding to support the strengthening of the research administrative infrastructure and enhance research production in the PPP. Specifically 8 aims have been organized under 3 broad objectives,1) To strengthen research administration leadership primarily at the three participating institutions, 2) To institutionalize a dynamic research administrative support system that provides responsive, efficient, and consistent, support to staff/faculty actively engaged in writing and implementing research proposals at the three participating institutions, and 3) To strengthen institutional research governance structures for program quality and sustainability. By the end of the 5 year grant period a fully functional and responsive office of research and Supported Programs will be in place, grant productions will be growing at a rate of 50% per year, and staff engagement in scientific writing will have improved by more than 50% at all the 3 institutions.
The three related and overlapping objectives (and the 8 specific aims) of this proposal are directed at establishing a flourishing and self-sustaining research administration system at the three participating institutions with the end result of stimulating profitable research productivity. The grant will expand Uganda's pool of research administrators and investigators with the skills and competencies necessary to successfully develop research idea that are responsive to the global health needs of the country. Expanded research capacity at the three institutions will directly contribute to the country's effort to continuously improve public health outcomes.