To contribute effectively to solving its health challenges, Africa needs a highly trained cadre of researchers, able to initiate and lead research projects and to manage them effectively so that milestones and deliverables are achieved, and resources managed appropriately. Scientific research is now performed most efficiently within research consortia, and young scientists need to learn to maximize the opportunities that these networks offer. Developing their own networks, based on good project visibility, will provide them with a personal support structure as their careers progress. To achieve these goals, the young scientists need mentorship and advice to plan their own career development.
In this context, the ScreenTB Consortium has implemented an extensive Capacity Strengthening Programme in parallel to the important research activities performed within the project. The porgramme consisted of three main pillars: Training – Mentorship – Personal Development Plans.
Training activities in ScreenTB comprised online training webinars on project and financial management for all consortium members including administrative and financial staff as well as on-site trainings enhancing clinical research capacity. Further training was provided on-the-go to those who participated in the clinical recruitment, sample handling, and testing of clinical samples at the various African sites.
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"Building a scientific career is a challenge for everyone, and opportunities for mentorship and advice can be even more limited within African settings. Projects such as ScreenTB are made possible with the help of local researchers and scientists and we owe it to them to support them in return as well."Prof. Hazel Dockrell
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The Mentorship scheme provided mentors to all participants as required. Pairings were identified at the kick-off meeting and as needed throughout the project lifetime. Senior academics in the consortium mentored early and mid-career scientists through regular electronic, telephonic, Skype and face-to-face meetings.
Using a system found to be effective in previous projects, consortium members were helped to develop their own personal development plans, enabling both students and research staff to set realistic objectives as they develop their careers.
The ScreenTB Capacity Strengthening Programme was led by Hazel Dockrell, Professor of Immunology and Special Advisor on Overseas Programmes in Africa at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Prof. Dockrell has worked closely with the ScreenTB coordinator and the other partners and developed a comprehensive but realistic plan for capacity strenghtening activities within ScreenTB. With her strong background in immune diagnostics, immunology of infectious diseases and capacity building and her unique insights into the challenges faced by African scientists and available opportunities for capacity strengthening, Prof. Dockrell has helped ScreenTB researchers to reach their full potential.
Training activities have been a cornerstone of the ScreenTB Capacity Strengthening programme.Read more
Mentoring took place through regular electronic, telephone, Skype and face-to-face meetings.Read more
Personal development sessions were held during the consortium meetings from year one on.Read more