Ssewamala receives NIH grant to train HIV/AIDS Ugandan researchers


A $1.5 million grant will provide state-of-the-art training for 18 early-career researchers in Uganda to strengthen the capacity of research institutions in the country to address HIV/AIDS and its burden on child and adolescent mental health.

The five-year program is funded by the Fogarty International Center and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

It will be led by Fred Ssewamala, the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor at the Brown School, in partnership with Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School; and Noeline Nakasujja, chair of the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at Makerere University in Uganda.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the training will begin online this summer for the first cohort of six fellows. Next summer, it will transition to in-person training at Washington University. Over the course of their three-year training period, fellows will receive:

  • Multidisciplinary training to identify and treat children and adolescents in HIV-impacted, low-resource settings in developing countries. They will apply interventions adapted to sub-Saharan Africa.
  • An intensive mentorship and training program that fosters long-term research collaboration with senior researchers and mentors from Africa.
  • Hands-on learning, including site visits to NIH-funded research projects and centers focused on HIV prevention and mental health interventions in communities heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS.
  • Funding opportunities for pilot studies.
  • Technical support and peer review for pilot studies, manuscript preparation and grant applications for larger studies.

“Through our ongoing partnership with Makerere University, we are pleased to be able to offer high-level training to at least 18 early-career Ugandan researchers,” Ssewamala said. “We hope this program will provide them with the skills and tools necessary to continue their own independent research, attract funding and develop a truly local response to the HIV epidemic.”

Ssewamala is the founding director of the International Center for Child Health and Development, which contributes to the reduction of poverty and improvement of health outcome for youth and will manage this training program. He is also director of the SMART Africa Center, an African regional transdisciplinary collaborative center aimed at reducing gaps in child and adolescent mental health services and research in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.

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