| AITRP Program
What is the Vanderbilt AITRP Program?
The Vanderbilt University AITRP program is entering its 11th year and is a NIH/Fogarty International Centre funded program which aims to:
Train a new generation of foreign scientists from our partner countries in HIV/AIDS research within the context of overseas institutional capacity-building.
Promote the initiation of innovative HIV prevention, care, treatment, and translational research by host-country investigators trained by AITRP, through the building of in-country research capacity and long-term collaborative relationships.
AIDS International Training & Research Program (AITRP)
Professor Sten H. Vermund
Principal Investigator (PI): Sten Vermund, MD, PhD (Vanderbilt University)
Dr Vermund is World-renowned Public Health Specialist, Infectious disease Epidemiologist and Pediatrician with special experience in adolescent and women health, particularly in Sexually Transmitted Viral Infections including HIV and Human Papilloma Virus.
His degrees include MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MSc in community Health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, M. Phil and PhD in Epidemiology from Colombia University USA.
Professor Vermund is the Amos Christie Chair in Global Health, and Director of Vanderbilt University School of Medicines Institute for Global Health.
At the University of Alabama Vermund served as Director of Spark Man center for Global Health, Professor of Epidemiology, Medicine, Pediatrics, and Nutritional Sciences, and Director Division of Geographic Medicine in the department of Medicine, and he brought the AIDS International and Training Research Program (AITRP).
As Infectious Diseases Epidemiologist his research focuses on HIV/AIDS in developing countries he has been the recipient of more than twenty Research and Training Grants from National Institute of USA.
He is on the editorial board of leading peer reviewed indexed Journals of the World, and also author of more than 250 publication in peer reviewed journals.
Dr. Vermund has been honored with several National & International Awards.
Dr. Sibylle Kristensen
Program Director University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB): DrPH, MSPH, MPH
Dr. Sibylle Kristensen is Bachelor of Science in Biology, minor in Anthropology and social science. She obtained MPH in Epidemiology, MSPH in International Health and Dr.PH in Maternal and Child health from School of Public Health University of Alabama at Birmingham USA.
Currently she is working as Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology and International Health at University of Alabama Birmingham USA.
Dr. Kristensen is a perinatal epidemiologist with research interests in reproductive health, adverse perinatal outcomes, infectious diseases and HIV/STD prevention among vulnerable populations. She is a long time collaborator of BRIDGE and was a co-investigator on the World AIDS Foundation project, “Risk Reduction for Prevention of HIV/AIDS among Adolescent Injection Drug Users in Karachi.
Additionally, Dr. Kristensen is the Principal Investigator of the UAB AIDS International Training Program and the UAB International Maternal and Child Health Research and Training Program as well as the Director for the UAB International Centers for Excellence in Research and the UAB International Research and Training in Environmental and Occupational Health Program.
Her current research projects are focused on maternal mortality in the Tibetan Autonomous Region; and on the prevention of HIV/AIDS among MSM in China.
Professionally she is member of Upsilon chapter of Delta omega, the public health honors society.
She is author of numerous books, publications and articles that published in peer-reviewed journals.
What does the Vanderbilt AITRP Program provide?
Tuition and fees for Long Term Public Health Degree Training
Living Stipend if studying in the US.
Laptop computer and learning materials for trainees in degree programs
HIV/AIDS related scientific conference attendance
HIV/AIDS related research projects for trainees in degree programs
HIV/AIDS related Post-doc fellowships at the Institute for Global Health at Vanderbilt University
HIV/AIDS related short courses and workshops
Long term training: Description of Degree Programs provided by the VU-CIDRZ AITRP
VU Masters in Public Health (MPH)
(Wayne Ray, PhD, Director):
The MPH program is a two-year program offered by the School of Medicine for physicians and other doctoral-level health care professionals whose career interests are in clinical and health services research.
Since 1996, fully 92% of its graduates have remained in academic medicine or public health. The last 80 VU MPH graduates have published >500 original manuscripts, including papers in JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine. The last 80 graduates have obtained 92 research grants, including K awards, R awards,
and several grants from non-government sources. Our most recent AITRP graduate from the VU AITRP is the first to have obtained a GRIP award, Dr. S. Asad Ali, who is now back in Pakistan commencing his 5 year molecular epidemiology work supported by the NIH. The MPH includes 42 hours of required courses in Biostatistics,
Clinical Trials, Epidemiology, Research Ethics, Scientific Writing, and Behavior Methods, a public health practicum and mentored research, the latter resulting in a thesis in the second year of study. The practicum provides students with opportunities to develop practical skills in public health practice settings.
All MPH candidates must complete a Master’s project, a substantive piece of clinical research that results in a manuscript suitable for submission to the refereed biomedical literature. Our AITRP trainees will conduct their research project in their home country under the guidance of the US and/or overseas mentor
for 6-9 months, returning briefly to VU to present their thesis and graduate.
VU PhD in Epidemiology
(Katherine Hartmann, MD, PhD, Director):
Vanderbilt provides an extraordinary opportunity for the study and advancement of epidemiology. The Institute for Medicine and Public Health and the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center have 25 researchers
conducting epidemiologic studies, with more than $70 million in funding. Their research includes multiple large population–based cohort studies with survey data and biological samples from 250,000 subjects from China and the US. The goal of the doctoral program in Epidemiology is to develop graduates with exceptional
skill in advanced quantitative methods. The curriculum features rigorous classroom, computing and experience-based teaching in causal logic, inference, probability, and theoretical grounding for study design and data analysis. The program consists of 66 credits of core required courses including Epidemiologic Methods,
Clinical Trials, Theory and Quantitative Methods, Scientific Writing, and Research Ethics. The program is taught by six tenured and tenure-track epidemiologists and over 25 research faculty who are involved in epidemiology and quantitative methodological research in the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, the
Vanderbilt-Meharry Alliance, the Department of Biostatistics, and 11 other centers, institutes, and schools. Students are also required to pass comprehensive exams, complete a dissertation, and participate in the teaching of a methods course or seminar. As with MPH students, AITRP PhD students will conduct their
dissertation research in their home country for a semester and return to VU to defend their dissertation. We think this will be a superb curriculum for a quantitatively strong AITRP fellow.
LSHTM: Masters of Science (MSc) in Infectious Disease or Epidemiology
(Sir Andrew Haines, Dean):
The LSHTM is Britain's national school of public health and a leading postgraduate institution in Europe for public health and tropical medicine. The School has a diverse
student and staff population (London-based and Distance Learning) from 122 countries. The Masters of Science (MSc) distance learning program was established in 1998. (Dr. Vermund received his own MSc degree there in 1981) The MSc degree generally takes 2 years to complete and our AITRP trainees will pursue a distance
learning degree in either Epidemiology or Infectious Disease. Courses are taught through use of interactive CD-ROMs, study guides, textbooks, web-based tools, and other materials. Students receive academic support and assessment feedback via email from subject tutors and web-based conference systems. In-country teams
will provide additional supervision and tutoring through the year, to ensure that adequate support is available despite the long distances between the university and student. In Zambia, for example, students will have access to UAB faculty and three Masters-level biostatisticians through regular “office hours” and
through periodic review lectures. An MSc can be completed over 2 to 4 years, depending upon the intensity of study. The decision as to the pace of study is made in consultation with the current employer, such as UNZA or UEM. Examinations are normally held in a student's country of residence, using a system of affiliated
UAB DrPH in Epidemiology and International Health (Sibylle Kristensen, Coordinator):
The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program in International Health and Global Studies (IHGS) is based on the development of skills and knowledge essential for advanced positions in public
health or applied academic research. The principal objective of the Program is to train students to be independent researchers in the field of international health, with particular emphasis on conducting population-based studies. To date, 4 of our former trainees have received this degree.
VU PhD in Nursing
(Colleen Conway-Welch, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean):
VU School of Nursing has demonstrated a strong commitment and leadership in training nurse scholars and educators as evidenced by their history of training grants and senior-level, well-funded faculty who are committed to creating partnerships with
investigators and institutions both within Vanderbilt and the community-at-large. Over the past eight years, VUSN faculty has been awarded ten training grants by the Division of Nursing, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services totaling over $7.1 million. Of significant
importance is the recent training grant that addresses the nurse faculty shortage through the expansion of the PhD in Nursing Science Program. The program offers students two tracks of study: Clinical Research and Health Services Research. We would welcome an outstanding nurse-investigator who could complete this program.
VU Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI)
(Talat [Alp] Ikizler, Director):
The MSCI program is a two year program provided though the VUSM intended to provide direct, mentored experience in clinical investigation and, through didactic work, to provide trainees with a strong foundation in study design, biostatistics, biomedical ethics, clinical pharmacology, human genetics and assay methods. Eligible applicants include:
board-eligible physicians currently enrolled in a Fellowship Program at Vanderbilt University or Meharry Medical College, Post-Doctoral PhDs anticipating a career in patient-oriented research, or PhD candidates in the Nursing School anticipating a career in patient-oriented research. A thesis is required. We have not had an AITRP fellow opt for this program yet, but a clinical trials oriented trainee may chose this in the future.
VU Masters in Medicine, Health, and Society (MA)
(Arleen Tuchman, Director):
Graduate study in Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt offers interdisciplinary Master of Arts and a graduate certificate for students interested in studying health-related beliefs and practices in their social and cultural contexts. Medicine, health, and society draws on a variety of fields in the social sciences and humanities-anthropology, economics, history, literature, psychology, sociology, philosophy/ethics, and religious studies.
A student interested in social sciences and policy might choose this interdisciplinary option.
VU Masters in International Education Policy and Management (MEd) (James W. Guthrie, Director):
The International Education Policy and Management (IEPM) courses prepare student to work on education policy and strategic planning. It enhances the understanding of different education systems throughout the world by means of systematic comparison. Students attend classes concerning the finance, economics, governance, social context of education, along with many other courses to broaden their understanding of education in the global context.
Masters in Graduate Program in Economic Development (MA)
(Andrea Maneschi, Director):
The Graduate Program in Economic Development offers a wide array of courses in several major areas of emphasis including Finance and Banking, International Development, Poverty and Inequality, and Development of Institutions. Seminars are often given by visiting lecturers who speak on various aspects of economic development and present case studies on current development issues around the world. Additionally,
students are required to participate in field training programs that allow them to obtain research material that will be useful in their further studies
(http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/GPED/site/index.php); 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Mohammed Yunis graduated from the PhD version of this program in 1971, developing his micro-loan concepts at that time.
Medium-term training in the U.S.: (The John J. Sparkman Center for Global Health at UAB offers a unique opportunity for qualified Scholars to enhance their public health skills, developed by Dr. Vermund in 2001 and now led by current Sparkman Director Dr. Craig Wilson. The primary objective of the four-week Summer Institute is to enhance leadership skills at all levels and disciplines for those who share
a common commitment to the future of public health. Special field trips to public health facilities, clinics, laboratories, and plants are conducted. Supervised computer laboratories and case studies are highlighted. Less than half of each day is lecture; the rest is case study, group work, and field visits. The four teaching modules are: (1) Modern Principles of Public Health Leadership and Management; (2) Principles and Practice of the Control of TB;
(3) Management and Control of HIV/AIDS/STDs; and (4) Principles of Modern Public Health Research, using the latest version of EpiInfo. This program is ideal for the influential local leaders who need not become expert in research methods, but whose awareness of research and support for the global HIV/AIDS research agenda is critical. We have sponsored 35 trainees to date.
We will support one trainee per country (five
total) to the Summer Institute (or analogous
short-course, if more suitable) annually.
Persons from China needing rural public health or health financing training may participate in the Tennessee-China Rural Healthcare Exchange Program, a three-week intensive curriculum at VU, U. of Memphis, and the East Tennessee State U. College of Public Health. This is described in the annual progress report (p.142).
Medium-term U.S. training at the Institute for Global Health will be offered at VU to increase the independence of selected trainees. Trainees will spend up to three months at VU and intensively with IGH faculty on data analysis, manuscript preparation and grant writing.
Medium-term training In-country: In Mozambique, we have a superb opportunity to bring trainees from Maputo to the VU “Friends in Global Health” PEPFAR program in rural Zambézia Province. This is of particular interest to UEM in support of student MPH theses and to INS fellows, our two institutional partners. Stipend support will be provided from our AITRP grant for month-long practicum placements for research
activities nested within the existing PEPFAR research infrastructure of the Ministry of Health and VU. We believe that this model of hands-on mentored research within a PEPFAR-supported infrastructure has promise as well in Zambia at the CIDRZ-managed PEPFAR and cervical cancer screening sites, in Pakistan at the Aga Khan Rural Support Program, in our new cervical cancer programs in rural Vadu, Maharashtra, India, and in our cervical cancer sites being developed
this year in rural Dehong Prefecture in Yunnan, China.
Short-term training In-country: Short-term training will be offered primarily in the field, rather than at VU or UAB, and will focus on upgrading HIV/AIDS/TB/STI-related research, service, and management capacity among already trained, experienced health professionals. Training will be aimed at academia, government, and/or NGO research employees depending on country circumstances. We will utilize our existing
partnerships with in-country, local researchers and non-profit agencies by using our own AITRP alumni and other trained researchers to serve as co-trainers of the workshops. To further develop our partner institutions as regional centers of training, we will include as short-term trainees those alumni from other university’s AITRPs (see our letters of support from all AITRPs with foci in any of our target nations) and institutions (e.g., universities, health
ministries, NGOs, local offices of international agencies), as we have been doing already. We believe that this feature of our proposal, the use of our partner sites as training sites for in-country-based education, and eventually as a regional training resource for a number of nearby regions or countries, remains the most critical feature of the sustainability and importance of our in-country, short-course training efforts.
At least one short-course will be conducted by Dr. Vermund, faculty Co-investigators, visiting scholars, and/or our local collaborators annually in each of our partner countries.
The in-country selection committees will work with the VU-CIDRZ team to select training topics.
Short-Term U.S. training: Our AITRP will continue to provide support for conference attendance such as the American Public Health Association and International AIDS Society for our trainees whose abstracts are accepted for presentation. The number of persons depends upon the availability of resources in a given year.
Postdoctoral training: A revamped component of the training effort of the VU-CIDRZ AITRP is to provide postdoctoral research training to selected returned trainees or other highly qualified candidates from our partner countries. In order for new researchers to contribute effectively to the HIV/AIDS research field, they must have not only detailed, multidisciplinary training in research methodology, but should also have a broad
view of the major conceptual issues in HIV/AIDS related research. Our first training goal is to acquaint postdoctoral fellows with original research in the field of HIV/STD/TB by placing them in positions of authority and responsibility within a currently active research program at VU. Particular emphasis will be placed on technical training such as questionnaire development, data management and analysis, data interpretation and presentation (in the form of reports,
abstracts and publications), or specific laboratory skills. Our second goal is to nurture trainees into more independent researchers by providing them expertise and on-the-job experience in grantsmanship and research methods in the context of current HIV/AIDS research. VU-CIDRZ AITRP postdoctoral trainees will be assigned a Faculty Mentor with coinciding research interests who will supervise their research activities. Upon arrival at VU, trainees will be expected to
develop a personalized training and research plan, with the help of their mentor and the PI. Mentors are encouraged to find other resources to support some AITRP post-doc fellows for a second year.
Additional training opportunities: VU provides a rich research environment that will greatly enhance both formal training opportunities available to our trainees. The AITRP curriculum for our existing training programs at VU (both degree-seeking and post-doctoral training) has been expanded beyond course work to include practical experience in clinical and community settings. The Tennessee Department of Health and the Metro Public Health
Department of Nashville/Davidson County have been enormously supporting in this regard. Additional courses that complement our training curriculum and prepare trainees for training, research and/or management positions upon their return home are encouraged, even when not required for a given curriculum. We intend to develop a structured agenda for practical complementary training for each trainee based on his/her individual area of interest.
While at VU, those trainees with clinical backgrounds are encouraged to rotate through STD and TB clinics in the Metro Public Health Department and the Comprehensive Care Center (and HIV clinic directed by Dr. Raffanti, see letter of support). Some will go weekly to one or another clinic for an entire year while they are here. They will attend seminars such as the Discovery Lecture Series and grand rounds in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and participate in the seminar series
of the Institute for Global Health and Center for AIDS Research. Trainees will also attend the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) bi-monthly sessions on practical research skills such as EndNote, data security, and IRB processing, to name a few examples.
Principles of NIH and Foundation grant writing: This special short course is taught by IGH faculty and tutors the trainees in preparing applications suitable for NIH and for typical Foundations. It provides the basic principles for the effective preparation of research proposals. The program includes presentations on the mechanics of the peer review process, issues to consider in the preparation of an application, and the array of governmental
and nongovernmental sources of support.
Computer training: All degree-seeking trainees receive a laptop computer for their permanent use to facilitate their research project development and implementation. Specific training in various computer software packages is available. Microsoft Office is installed including MS Access, a good choice for database systems for trainee research projects. Basic analyses, including descriptive graphs and charts are taught in MS Excel.
For data analysis, descriptive statistics, functions within Excel and Access can again be used. EpiInfo is free software jointly developed by the CDC and the WHO for questionnaire design, data management, and statistical analysis. This is provided and taught as a user-friendly integrated research tool. All long-term degree-candidate students learn statistical analysis using SAS, SPSS. R, and Stata programs.