Malawi HIV Implementation Research Scientist Training Program (M-HIRST)

Project: Research project


Malawi, a Sub-Saharan African country with high HIV prevalence, has a long standing history of creative, simplified HIV programming. As an example, in 2011, Malawi pioneered the Option B+ program, provision of universal life long antiretroviral therapy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, over 2 years before endorsement by the WHO. Task-shifting to lower cadres of health care workers in Malawi occurred early in the ART program, out of operational necessity. While a wealth of programmatic data exists and HIV research in treatment and prevention is ongoing, the next stages of research are clearly related to implementation science. That is, how can the HIV programs be optimized to have the greatest impact on the epidemic? With finite resources, what program components should be prioritized?
To answer these questions, Malawi needs to build its foundation in implementation science foundation. In general, the pool of qualified investigators is extremely small and even fewer are properly trained to contribute to implementation science research questions related to evolving HIV research programs.
Our Malawi HIV Implementation Research Training Program (M-HIRST) builds on 15 years of Fogarty sponsored training activities to continue and expand the institutional research capacity in Malawi. Our previous and existing programs, including the Fogarty AITRP, the Fogarty Global Health Fellows, and the Fogarty International Clinical Scholars and Fellows program, have developed the systems to successfully train numerous Malawian researchers in a wide range of HIV-focused research. The newly funded NCI/Fogarty sponsored Malawi Cancer consortium provide additional framework for the ongoing development of Malawian research scientists. Our previous approach has provided a small pool of competent Malawian researchers with potential for sustainable research leadership. For this proposal, we focus on enhancing the implementation science research skills of junior faculty and investigators as well as expanding the pool of qualified researchers through post-graduate training. Our goal is to place these talented researchers into research programs at the University of Malawi College of Medicine (CoM), the primary education and research institution in the country.
Our planned training program includes the following i) a scientific priorities generation workshop on key Implementation science questions in program areas of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and Option B+, and HIV integrated Prevention, ii) provision of appropriate short courses in clinical trial design, epidemiological research, implementation science, grant-writing and iii) mentorship for trainee research and career development iv) statistical and implementation science internships and v) competitive mentored research small grants programs. Each year, we anticipate 10 junior faculty will benefit short course programs, 3-5 will receive small research grants, and 1-2 will participate in internships.
To expand the pool of qualified researchers in Malawi, we anticipate training 1 PhD candidate in implementation science through our collaboration with the University of Witwatersrand, 1 PhD candidate in epidemiology at UNC-Chapel Hill, and 6 MPH/MSc candidates through the existing COM MPH course.
Importantly, we intend to strengthen the College of Medicine Research Support Center by the placement of an Analysis and Manuscript Writing unit within the Center, expanding a “Mentor the Mentors” program, and providing grants management training. The program activities (short course modules) will provide a framework for standardized MMED research instruction as the post-graduate training programs expand and provide the systems required to support the newly proposed Faculty Research Track. By the end of the award, we expect to have highly qualified COM faculty in the Research Track, capable of leading the Malawi HIV treatment and prevention implementation Science Ag
Effective start/end date5/15/154/30/20


  • NIH Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences


research implementation
training program