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  • Research Training in Data Science for Health in Rwanda

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    Other PIs:
    • Ndifon, Wilfred
    • Payne, Philip R.O.
    • Tumusiime, David
    • Twizere, Celestin
    • Katie Crowder
    • Isambi Sailon Mbalawata
    • Michael Mugisha


    Contact PI

    Victor G Davila-Roman
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    Research Training Program (RTP) grant application for DS-I Africa initiative (RFA-RM-20-016) is a partnership of 3 collaborating institutions: Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), University of Rwanda (UR) and African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), both in Kigali, Rwanda. The overarching objective of U2R RTP is to stimulate and catalyze innovation of Data Science (DS) for Health in Rwanda. A high prevalence of communicable diseases, coupled with a rapidly expanding epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), forecasts a perfect public health storm in Rwanda, providing impetus and rationale to leverage DS to address health care gaps. A structured program design will help develop trainee research careers in DS with particular focus on health care topics relevant to Rwanda, including communicable (i.e., HIV, malaria, COVID-19, etc) and chronic NCDs (i.e., hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, etc). We propose to expand existing model curriculum for innovative and interdisciplinary DS for Health research training and practice by identifying additional competencies in three major scientific areas: 1) computer science & informatics; 2) statistics & mathematics; and 3) biomedical sciences & public health. U2R RTP will: a) provide support (tuition, stipend, research funds) for 24 trainees: MS (n=14), PhD (n=6); post-doc (n=2); junior faculty (n=2); each trainee receives training for 1-2 years based on individual needs; b) foster an innovative team science transdisciplinary approach to research; and c) build institutional capacity at UR and AIMS to support the long- term sustainability of the program. The intended outcomes are to: 1) train next generation of data scientists that will have the necessary expertise to solve challenging problems presented by the burden of communicable and chronic NCDs in Rwanda; and 2) complete a full U2R program leadership and faculty and institutional transition from US-Rwanda co-led to fully Rwandan-led by the end of the U2R program. Trainees will participate in mandatory week long “boot camps” (twice/yr), monthly webinars and mid-yr mtg with didactic training focused on career advice, research and academic advancement in highly-relevant Data Science and health care topics (i.e., data management, bioinformatics, statistics, epidemiology, communicable diseases, NCDs, environmental exposure, dissemination and implementation, etc); intense Grant & Manuscript Writing Skills Training Program geared towards development of competitive grant proposals (“Small Research Projects, SRP)” that trainees prepare, submit and conduct under direction of a multidisciplinary mentoring team from academic and governmental institutions. Effective mentoring during boot camp occurs through trainee “Group Brainstorming Sessions” where they present their developing SRPs to obtain feedback. An extensive program evaluation by trainees and faculty will also provide feedback for improvement. The U2R RTP will establish and cultivate a sustainable program for training, research, mentoring and career development that will position UR and AIMS as national and regional African leaders and a global hub for Data Science for Health in Rwanda.

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