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Columbia University-South Africa Training Program for Research on AIDS-related Malignancies (CUSATPRAM)

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Building upon the Southern Africa Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program and cancer research training programs, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health has specifically designed to develop capacity within South Africa for research on HIV-related malignancies.

Building on the achievements of our Southern Africa Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program and our NCI-funded T32 and R25 cancer research training programs, we have developed a program specifically designed to develop capacity within South Africa for research on HIV-related malignancies. The Columbia University-South Africa Training Program for Research on AIDS-related Malignancies (CUSATPRAM) is funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, USA. We have a formal collaboration with investigators at the University of KwaZulu/Natal (UKZN) in Durban, Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, but we welcome applicants from other institutions in South Africa as well.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) incidence and mortality rates have risen dramatically as the HIV/AIDS epidemic has evolved. In the developed world, cervical cancer is also HIV-related, but sub-Saharan Africa had among the world’s highest cervical cancer rates even before the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Access to anti-retroviral therapy and survival with AIDS are improving, but HIV-related malignancies are an increasingly urgent public health problem for men, women, and children in South Africa. Moreover, given its high prevalence, HIV may play a role in the etiology, treatment, or outcome of all malignancies in South Africa. 

The aims of our training program are:

  • To increase the number of investigators in South Africa trained in cancer epidemiology and biostatistics.
  • To increase the number of investigators in South Africa trained in pathologic and virologic methods relevant to HIV-related malignancies.
  •  To expand the capacity of South African investigators to design and conduct clinical and laboratory studies of the association of HIV with cancer

Program Description

Our leading cancer and HIV epidemiologists, oncologists, and laboratory scientists work with the  pre- and postdoctoral trainees and with colleagues in South Africa who are providing clinical care, conducting trials, and collecting specimens for study. Trainees take courses at CU and/or the collaborating universities in South Africa. Some trainees may acquire specific expertise in needed laboratory techniques; others may be trained in patient-oriented clinical research or public-health oriented epidemiology (potentially applicable to building a much-needed population-based cancer registry). All trainees receive mentoring from our faculty, and all participants are committed to building long-term collaborations and research capacity on HIV-related malignancies in resource-limited settings (e.g., development of a quick, low-cost KS test).

The purpose of our program is to strengthen the capacity to conduct research on HIV-associated malignancies in South Africa. For that purpose, six priority research training needs have been identified:

  1. Epidemiological, biostatistical, and data management skills to provide the capacity to design and undertake prevention and treatment trials, including special emphasis on more complex designs including combination prevention interventions, applying knowledge from proven interventions in prevention and treatment, and integrating data from multiple scientific disciplines
  2. Skills to undertake implementation science research, including clinical and operational research and program monitoring and evaluation to enhance patient management and support evidence-based policy formulation and programmatic implementation
  3. Basic science and laboratory skills to enhance understanding of immunological and virological changes around early/acute HIV infection and cancer, in the presence and absence of prophylactic and therapeutic use ARVs, and of TB, with an eye toward possible drug development
  4. Capacity to undertake empiric research on ethical issues emerging in the context of clinical trials relevant to HIV-associated malignancies
  5. Focused practical training for implementing and conducting clinical trials
  6. Strengthening social science and basic science research to deepen understanding of and to enhance adherence in treatment and prevention

People

  • Vice Provost for Academic Programs, Professor of Biostatistics at the Columbia University Medical Center
  • University Professor, Director, ICAP, Dr. Mathilde Krim-amfAR Professor of Global Health (in Epidemiology)
  • Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center
  • Professor of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center