Infectious Diseases Training program in Bolivia: South-South Training with Peru

Investigator: Caryn L. Bern, MD, MPH
Sponsor: Johns Hopkins University

Location(s): Bolivia


For more than 25 years, the collaboration among the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru, and A.B. PRISMA, a Peruvian non-governmental organization, has provided a rich environment for research and training. This collaboration is focused on developing local infrastructure and scientific talent in the area of infectious diseases, and here we propose to leverage this environment to train Bolivians and develop research capabilities in Bolivia.

We employ a progressive stepwise method of selecting and training young investigators. This stepwise training method permits screening of candidates at multiple levels and ensures that we invest in the most highly qualified and motivated individuals. In this application, we propose to develop a new program to extend our training to achieve a critical mass of researchers in Bolivia, where we are beginning to build local expertise. The proximity of Bolivia to Peru provides us with a unique opportunity to leverage the human capacity and infrastructure that we have built in Peru over the last 20 years, using a South-South training approach to more cost-effectively begin to build a scientific research community in Bolivia. There are several infectious diseases affecting public health in Bolivia, and we plan to focus our training on a few of the most important to the country: Chagas disease, cysticercosis, tuberculosis (TB), pneumonia, and HIV neurological co-infections. Over the past 25 years, we have developed a training network of developing and developed country institutions that is remarkable for its breadth, depth and sustainability. This program began with a focus on Peru, and has trained more than 90 Peruvian graduate and post-graduate students and 400 students of other nationalities, and the collaborative network of individuals and institutions tied to this grant has produced more than 350 original research articles in peer-reviewed journals. This network and infrastructure developed in our original program in Peru will be leveraged in the new proposed program to train researchers in Bolivia. We have the following steps in our program that will be completed under this D43 grant:
Step 1. We will train 20+ students each year in infectious disease and research methods seminars in Bolivia, for a total of 100+ students during the 5 year grant.
Step 2. We will train five students per year in laboratory rotations in Bolivia, for a total of 25 trainees during the 5 year grant.
Step 3. We wil train two students per year in laboratory rotations at the UPCH, for a total of 10 trainees during the 5 year grant.
Step 4. We will train two Bolivian students per year in a Master's degree program at UPCH, for a total of ten trainees during the five year grant.
Step 5. We will support six Bolivian students to attend the Tropical Medicine and Public Health Summer Institute at JHSPH during the five year grant.