Collaborating teams from UKZN, Harvard and GINGER.

UKZN Psychiatry Hosts Harvard

The Discipline of Psychiatry at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine co-ordinated a two-week research training programme from 4 to 15 February, focusing on epidemiology and biostatics with the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of MIT, US.

The programme was aimed at developing research capacity among staff and students in the College of Health Sciences. The research training programme was part of the GINGER (Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education in Research), an initiative where Harvard teams up with some African institutions to create a global neuropsychiatric genetics training programme, which was launched in July 2017.

Local collaborators from the Discipline of Psychiatry were led by Professor Bonga Chiliza, the Head of Psychiatry, and Dr Saeeda Paruk, with support from Drs Enver Karim and Kalpesh Narsi.

Two well-attended and inspiring programmes were offered. The first was a two-week workshop for established researchers, which was attended by 30 PhD and post-doctoral fellows, titled Interactive Research Methods and Analysis Workshop.

It included a series of neuropsychiatric epidemiology and genetics seminars focusing on epidemiology, genetics, writing, mentoring and building a research programme.

It is aimed at improving research capacity for the individual, but also serves to train researchers to mentor junior researchers, critical in advancing the research platform on the continent. UKZN PhD students based in Botswana and Kenya also joined in to allow for collaboration and sharing of research experiences.

A second programme was specifically hosted to inspire younger researchers, many who are registrars, currently registered for their master’s degree and focused on basic epidemiology and introduction to statistics and SPSS.

Distinguished guests from Harvard included GINGER Director Dr Lori Chibnik, the Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Associate Director, Dr Bizu Gelaye, an Epidemiologist and Public Health specialist and Ms K Post, a co-teacher and co-ordinator.

Words: Lihle Sosibo