The Fogarty International Research Training Program (Middle East Initiatives)
Cairo University (Kasr El-Ainy) has been a leading medical school in Egypt and the Middle East for nearly a century, with a focus on modern healthcare specific to Egyptian society. Because of this, UCLA ISAP initiated a partnership between the UCLA School of Medicine and the Cairo University School of Medicine within the Departments of Psychiatry in order to help Cairo University with research on substance abuse disorders. The development of a research capacity is very important to determining the extent of substance abuse disorders, judging the effectiveness of specific treatments, and evaluating new treatment service delivery efforts with real evidence. Because of new medical advances, it is important for Cairo University to develop a research capacity to use and contribute to research in medicine and health care, and this will be achieved by the creation of a research program and a culture of research support.
Initial Program Development
Due to the need to expand Cairo University’s research capacity, the Fogarty International Center’s UCLA-Cairo University Addiction Unit Research and Training Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), plans to introduce research training to the Addiction Unit at Cairo University. The goals of this program are to gain an awareness of the current nature of research training at Cairo University and the research capability of potential trainees and to understand the research questions that would be of greatest use to Egyptian society. UCLA will help trainees with their scientific writing skills and strategies to enable them to write successful grant proposals and research papers, and UCLA mentors will introduce trainees to the daily responsibilities of a successful researcher.
Under the leadership of Project Principle Investigator (PI), Richard Rawson, PhD, an Associate Director of UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs and Professor-in-Residence at the UCLA Department of Psychiatry, the program will focus on three trainees each year for a period of 5 years. These trainees will go on to become research “champions” at Cairo University who can lead the research effort by example and serve as role models for other students.
The Steering Committee, which consists of 12 members (5 UCLA and 7 Cairo University Department of Psychiatry key faculty), was established in order to screen and select trainee candidates and to plan the annual conference. The Steering Committee will also design the course plan and advise on the selection of two U.S. faculty who will travel to Egypt to conduct training workshops and meet with the mentored trainees. UCLA Co-Investigator Dr. Christine Grella will coordinate the Egyptian trainees’ research training activities during their stay in the United States in order to promote their participation in broader UCLA ISAP research training efforts.
Each year for 5 years, two Cairo University postdoctoral MD trainees, one Cairo University pre-doctoral MSc trainee, and two Cairo University faculty will travel to UCLA to participate in their respective Fogarty research training programs. The two postdoctoral MD trainees will participate in 9-month and 3-month programs to develop knowledge and skills in addiction research, consisting of ongoing educational seminars, a 20-week research methods videoconferencing course, and experiential learning via following and observing research staff, attending staff meetings, and gaining an understanding of writing grant proposals. Both of these longer-term trainees will also attend the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) and California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) conferences. In addition, the 9-month trainee will submit a proposal for an NIDA or NIH research grant within 6 months of his or her return. The pre-doctoral trainee will participate in a 2-week introductory program to explore the area of addiction research, sit in on a variety of research teams, and meet with his or her mentors. The two Cairo University faculty will also come to UCLA and CPDD for 2 weeks in order to meet with trainees, matched trainee mentors, and the UCLA Steering Committee members to discuss the progress of the program.
Future Integration of Research into Cairo University
After their training experiences, the trainees will have begun to develop their plans and long-term career paths. These may include prison treatment, HIV-drug use prevalence figures, a plan for medication development, and examining rates of drug use among street youth. Trainees will be encouraged to maintain the topicality of their research efforts, to identify research questions that are refundable by Egyptian governmental bodies or international research funding groups, and to work toward building a university research infrastructure to sustain continued research activity.