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  • Research Training on Harnessing Data Science for Global Health Priorities in Africa

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    Other PIs:
    • Barnighausen, Till
    • Moshabela, Mosa
    • Mwambi, Henry Godwell


    Contact PI

    Wafaie W Fawzi
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    The training program, “Research Training on Harnessing Data Science for Global Health Priorities in Africa” will build upon existing data science research capacity at the partnering institutions to enhance innovative new data science research capacity. Harvard University will lead the training collaboration with Heidelberg University in support of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) as a hub with four spoke partners in sub-Saharan African countries, namely Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. This Program brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers and expert faculty with in-depth experience in data science methods and two selected domain fields identified as global health priorities: (i) health systems strengthening, and (ii) food systems, climate change and planetary health. The program will advance training in data science and leverage methods training to address policy-relevant questions in these two research domains. The research training program will be structured to provide an appropriate balance of short, medium, and long-term training opportunities for participants from South Africa and 4 countries in Africa in the ARISE Network, namely Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. The long-term goal of this training program is to develop and instill advanced data skilled researchers in health data science in Africa through a rigorous curriculum and set of training and research activities designed to address the health needs of African countries. To support the long-term goal, the program has the following 3 specific aims: Aim 1: Train mid-level and senior researchers at UKZN to work as educators and principal investigators leading independent research programs focused on using data science to address important global health challenges of national, regional, and global relevance; Aim 2: Build a critical mass of junior public health and medical professionals across South Africa and four other countries in Africa in the ARISE Network (Ghana, Nigeria Tanzania and Uganda) who can design and successfully carry out rigorous health research projects using data science; Aim 3: Develop and institute a sustainable master’s degree program in health data science at the UKZN to serve the research training needs in South Africa and the African region. The program will train and support 17 master’s degree students, and 5 postdoctoral students through 2-year fellowships, using a data science curriculum and training program that is (i) competency-based, (ii) mastery-oriented, (iii) application-focused, and (iv) digitally-enhanced. The curriculum will be complemented by intensive, individual mentoring provided by a supervisory team, as well as by opportunities for practical training in internships, capstone projects, and academic research projects. The program will provide short course instructions to 350 professionals and researchers, of whom 50 will complete a series of four courses and obtain a proposed graduate certificate in health data science innovation. Through monthly seminars and annual symposia that will be attended by hundreds of program participants, the program will build a robust community focused on data science and its applications to global health. The program will integrate the programmatic work with the DS-I Africa Open Data Science Platform and Coordinating Center in the sharing and leveraging of data resources, data science technologies and resources to impact health outcomes across Africa.

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