A mix of short-term (<3 months) and degree training will be maximally effective in fulfilling the goals of our program. For degree training, we focus on masters and doctoral degrees because we believe that these will have the greatest long-term impact on research capacity. We anticipate that most training will be done in the context of specific research projects. Regardless of duration, training will be conducted on specimens and/or data from UCM-CIDI. All trainees must provide written approval for the training from a UCM and/or CIDI official, which can be provided in either in a letter or in an email.
Short-term training, generally used to support specific research projects, is a prominent feature of the Pitt HRTP. We also provide additional types of short-term training as the need arises. Many trainees will receive hands-on training in IRB submissions, as applications to both U.S. and international IRBs will be done jointly between Pitt HRTP training faculty and our trainees. Training in data management, biostatistics, good clinical practice, laboratory biosafety, research administration, and other areas can be provided on an as-needed basis, either at Pitt or through courses and workshops provided at other institutions. Candidates for short-term training must provide a proposal.
We offer several basic types of short-term training in our program:
1. Short-term training in epidemiology and laboratory sciences
This type of training is generally be in support of specific research projects. For example, training in study design or a specific laboratory assay may be required to initiate or support an ongoing research project at UCM-CIDI. Where the training occurs depends on matching the training need to the most appropriate mentor. Regardless of training location, Mozambican specimens and/or data are used.
Short-term training is provided at CISM. CISM is also preparing for HIV prevention trails and, as such, serves as a sister training site. CISM has an excellent immunology laboratory that can provide training in, for example, flow cytometry. In addition, CISM offers frequent courses, training sessions, and workshops that are relevant to the Pitt HRTP, including quality assurance, good clinical practice, flow cytometry, English language, cryopreservation, laboratory biosafety, and research ethics. We also plan to use the Pitt Clinical Trials Unit and African HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) and Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) sites for potential training experiences for selected candidates.
2. Short-term training in behavioral sciences
Non-degree training in the behavioral sciences is offered through a wide range of classes and individualized consultations/tutorials at Pitt through the Departments of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and Infectious Diseases and Microbiology. Non-degree training in the behavioral sciences at Pitt involves both course work and practicum experiences. Negotiation of classes and goals will be completed with trainees before they arrive at Pitt, so that arrangements can be made to ensure that classes will meet trainees’ goals. Based on experience, we anticipate that individuals who come to Pitt for training will request training in distinct skill sets, each of which can be provided through Pitt classes. A sample of possible classes include BCHS 2520, Theories of Health Behavior and Health Education, which is an introduction to the major theories that are the foundation for most health promotion and health education intervention, and BCHS 3002, Health Survey Methods, which introduces techniques for the collection of health data through survey methods. Moreover, Pitt offers a set of certificate programs in the behavioral sciences that trainees may find to be valuable additions to their educational experiences. These certificate programs include Community-Based Participatory Research and Practice, Evaluation of Public Health Promotion and Health Education Programs, and Minority Health and Health Disparities.
In addition to these didactic courses and certificate programs, trainees also have access to one-on-one consultations/tutorials with faculty members in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. Practicum experiences available at Pitt include the Pittsburgh MACS/Pitt Men’s Study, and the Pennsylvania/MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center. These ongoing projects provide trainees with didactic and hands-on experience in a variety of areas, including conducting focus groups for study design, evaluating intervention effectiveness, measuring subject satisfaction, and designing educational materials; conducting interviews and developing questionnaires to measure high-risk behavior and behavior changes; analysis of behavioral data; recruitment of study subjects; development of techniques to retain study subjects; organizing community support for research and recruitment; and exposure to and interaction with community advisory boards.
3. Johns Hopkins Graduate Summer Institute of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
We have found this program, which involves intensive coursework in the basics of epidemiology and biostatistics, to be an excellent resource for trainees who need to improve their skills in these areas. This program offers intensive credit-level course work in basic epidemiology and biostatistics, including a one-week course in AIDS designed specifically for Fogarty trainees. Examples of relevant courses include Principles of Epidemiology, Epidemiology in Evidence-Based Policy, Topics in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Advanced Methods in Observational Studies: Design, Professional Epidemiologic Methods: Health Data Sources and Surveillance, Data Analysis Workshop I and II, Design and Conduct of Clinical Trials, Statistical Reasoning in Public Health I and II, Challenges of Clinical Trials in Low and Middle Income Countries, Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS, and Advanced Issues on HIV/AIDS.
4. Coursework in a specific focus area
Some non-degree trainees may take coursework in a specific area of interest, such as grant writing, an epidemiology course that covers a specific research area (e.g., clinical trials), or biostatistics.
Although many short-term trainees will be involved in only one of these training experiences, others will be involved in a combination. For example, some trainees may undergo training in a specific laboratory assay and take selected coursework.
University of Pittsburgh
The MPH and MS degrees generally require two years to complete and involve many of the same courses as the doctoral degree. It provides a broad background in public health with additional training in epidemiology and biostatistics. A condensed 30-credit MS program is available for health professionals with graduate degrees in the health sciences. Both master’s degrees may serve as foundations for doctoral degrees in epidemiology for top-performing trainees who want to further their education.
Doctoral training in the Department of Epidemiology generally requires 4-5 years to complete. Students are required to take the GSPH and Department of Epidemiology core courses and can select from elective courses offered throughout the University. A written preliminary (qualifying) examination is taken near the end of the first year of study.
During the first year, the advisor and trainee discuss possible HIV research projects that could serve as the basis of a dissertation. Students will be included in discussions of ongoing research at UCM-CIDI, encouraged to attend one scientific AIDS meeting per year, and meet with the advisor to discuss relevant scientific advances in the field. We have found that this type of exposure early in their degree program keeps students engaged while they are completing their course requirements and facilitates the identification of dissertation research projects.
During the second year, the student completes the course requirements and chooses a dissertation topic. The topic is presented for approval to the student’s doctoral committee at an overview/prospectus meeting. A comprehensive examination is given by the student’s doctoral committee when all or most of the course work has been completed and the dissertation topic has been approved. Students who fulfill all of the necessary requirements are admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. Following admission to candidacy, doctoral trainees will return to Beira to initiate their dissertation research. Although the time required in-country varies substantially, most students complete their research in 12-18 months. The in-country progress of each trainee is closely monitored through contact by telephone and E-mail at least weekly and twice-yearly site visits. The student’s doctoral committee reviews a yearly progress report.
After completion of data collection in Beira, the student will return to Pittsburgh to analyze the data and prepare the doctoral dissertation, which requires three publication-quality manuscripts.
The Department of Biostatistics program provides for concentrations in two areas: biostatistics (MS and PhD degrees) and public health statistics (MPH degree). The Biostatistics Program is an academic degree program for students with a background in mathematics and strong interest in biology and public health. The program emphasizes statistical theory and methods so that students are prepared to be effective statistical collaborators in interdisciplinary studies, take leadership roles in the design and execution of studies, and contribute to the methodological development of biostatistics. The Public Health Statistics Program is a professional degree program that prepares students with a prior professional degree and/or background in health (physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians, or health administrators) to understand and apply statistical methods to health problems in their field. The public health track has somewhat less emphasis on statistical theory than the biostatistics track and more emphasis on the appropriate application of statistical methods to health problems, and administrative aspects of health science organizations. While all of the above options will be available according to the needs of individual candidates, we anticipate that the MPH degree will be most popular for Pitt HRTP trainees. We will consider exceptionally strong candidates for the PhD degree.
The Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology (IDM) offers PhD, MS, and MPH degrees. The general course of doctoral training in IDM is similar to the program described in the preceding section. A full array of training experiences are available to students in IDM, including research in biologic, molecular, and immunologic (cellular and humoral) studies of HIV pathogenesis; development of vaccines and microbicides against HIV; mechanisms of sexual transmission of HIV; and studies of drug-resistant HIV.
The PhD degree offered by IDM focuses on understanding the mechanisms of pathogenesis of microbial infections at the cellular and molecular level as they relate directly to developing methods for disease prevention and treatment. To graduate, students are required to take 72 credits of course work and successfully complete original research, the combination of which usually takes 4-5 years. Courses are comprised of nine classes in basic sciences, including biochemistry/molecular biology, virology, immunology, viral pathogenesis, bacterial pathogenesis and four advanced topics in retrovirology, herpes viruses, vaccine development and vectors in gene therapy. In addition, students take 4-6 public health-related courses, such as epidemiology, biostatistics and health science administration. At the end of the first two terms and second year all students must pass the preliminary and comprehensive examinations, respectively. All students present their findings and readings in a weekly data club and journal club. Students also participate in monthly seminars on infectious diseases, jointly sponsored by IDM and the Division of Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine. At the end of their tenure, all students must submit and successfully defend their dissertations through an oral presentation to the students and faculty of the Department. All HRTP students will submit a formal progress report at end of each year, which is reviewed by an internal steering committee.
The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences offers the MPH and DrPH degrees. Students in the MPH program learn to examine public health problems using social and behavioral sciences theory and information; develop and plan programs and policies to address public health problems; implement, manage, and evaluate programs and policies; conduct community-based applied research to build a knowledge base and gain understanding; communicate information to policymakers and the public; and advocate for program development and policy change.
Students in the DrPH program develop critical thinking and problem solving skills using various models and conceptual frameworks from the social and behavioral sciences; an understanding of the social ecological context in which public health programs are designed, implemented and financed; qualitative and quantitative methodologies in order to design and conduct rigorous and scientifically valid research at the various levels of human activity, a social justice perspective in the consideration of and sensitivity to ethical issues that influence public health, health policy, and the delivery of health care, data management and analysis skills, and competencies in communicating research findings orally and in writing.
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
Post-doctoral program in infectious and parasitic diseases
This program, one of the largest of its kind in Brazil, was established in 1970. The primary goal is to provide masters and doctoral training to investigators who can teach and conduct research in infectious diseases, including clinical trials. A substantial proportion of the program graduates occupy positions in institutions of higher education and research throughout Brazil and globally. In 2011, UFRJ School of Medicine faculty, in collaboration with other institutions, worked with the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane and the National Institute of Health in Mozambique to establish the first doctoral program in Mozambique in the area of health. One of the intents of the program is to increase south-south collaborations between Brazil and Mozambique in important areas of public health research. In addition to the establishment of the program in Mozambique, Brazil is now providing degree training to students from Mozambique. This effort recently resulted in the admission of the first Mozambican student to the UFRJ master’s program.
The program offers masters and PhD degrees that prepare graduates for infectious diseases research. Program faculty, which includes Dr. Barroso and Dr. Hofer, provide mentorship in specific areas of infectious diseases research. Among the many different areas of research focus that are available to students of the program, clinical trials in HIV and sexual transmission of HIV infection are the most relevant for the Pitt HRTP.
Upon entering the program, each student is assigned an academic advisor, who follows the student from course selection through dissertation defense. Students are permitted to select a second advisor as needed based on the student’s research project. The courses taken by each student are selected in consultation with the academic advisor. The minimum course-load for masters and PhD students is 360 and 450 total class hours, respectively, which includes both required and elective courses. Each student has a dissertation committee and final dissertation defense is required. The maximum time to complete the master’s program is 36 months versus 60 months for the PhD, although students typically complete their training in substantially less time. As with all Pitt HRTP-sponsored training, dissertation research will be performed using Mozambican data and/or specimens.
University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa
MSc degree in clinical epidemiology
This degree program offers rigorous methodological training for those with a background or experience in a health-related discipline who wish to pursue a career in clinical research or evidence-based practice. The program is relevant to potential researchers who require robust training in research techniques including advanced concepts and methods of epidemiology. The program covers basic and applied epidemiological concepts, approaching clinical situations from an evidence-based perspective, training in ethics, statistical programs, study designs and systematic reviews. The program is presented using a combination of face-to-face teaching and e-learning. Required courses are Biostatistics I and II, Diagnosis and Screening, Fundamentals of Epidemiology, Randomized Controlled Trials, Research Proposal Writing and Grantsmanship, Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis, and Writing and Reviewing Scientific Papers. Students are required to also take two elective courses, of which Infectious Diseases Epidemiology is one offering. The required research project is an ongoing 2-year process for the duration of the program, culminating in submitting a research article for publication. A key feature of the program is that students only need to be present in Cape Town for 2-3 week intervals followed by return home for several months, a cycle that is repeated during the two year period. Each course requires 40 hours of classroom time with 80 hours of self-study, which includes reading, formal assignments, and projects. We believe that this program will be particularly attractive to UCM-CIDI trainees who are unable to spend prolonged periods of time outside of Beira because of professional or family-related obligations.
The Pitt HRTP covers all expenses related to the training, including:
1. Obtaining passport and visa
2. Airfare and other transportation
3. Living expenses
4. For students applying to a degree program, study materials (book and CD) for the Test of English as a Foreign Language and the Graduate Register Examination will be provided
5. For students who enroll in a masters or doctoral degree program at one of our training institutions, tuition, books, laptop, and other expenses will be covered