The volume of international research in sub Saharan Africa is increasing largely because of the continent?s unique high burden of diseases such as malaria, HIV and more recently non-communicable diseases. The continent also faces emerging global health challenges such as Ebola and Zika virus all of which will require testing of new medicines, medical devices or understanding the pathophysiology. Many studies now include complex research such as genetic testing. The growth in volume and complexity of international research presents challenges to research ethics committees because most of them are inadequately prepared to review these complex projects. Resource limited settings also present unique features such as research among predominantly non-literate study populations, patriarchal society which may undermine fundamental principles such as autonomy and confidentiality. There is need to train RECs and researchers to become aware of these new challenges and devise ways of how to deal with them. To meet these needs, it is necessary to establish research ethics training in Sub Saharan Africa. We propose the Mbarara University Research Ethics Education Program (MUREEP) to build multi-level research ethics capacity in Uganda. Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) is uniquely positioned, to implement the training needed to build the research ethics capacity of its investigators, mentors, and REC, as well as those of other local institutions. Our collaborators at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Harvard University, Makerere University and Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST) will bring their extensive expertise in international and local research ethics to the team. We propose to 1) establish and implement a sustainable MPH-Research Ethics degree at MUST that will graduate 12 students over the grant period. Combining a public health master?s degree with research ethics will result in a public health researcher with extensive knowledge in ethics and who will be competitive in the job market. 2) Offer a repertoire of short courses, and capacity building activities that will train at least 525 participants in the region. Our proposed program of short courses will include a focus on the ethics of genetics research and bio-banking, the first of its kind at MUST and in the region. 3) Create a critical mass of teachers and mentors for sustainable research ethics training in southwestern Uganda and provide training and support for faculty in teaching/mentoring in research ethics, and 4) Strengthen the expertise of REC at MUST and other local institutions.
Research ethics training at Mbarara University, Uganda for MPH Research Ethics, and short courses, research ethics mentoring and REC strengthening will build capacity to address the challenge of growing volume and complexity of international research.