Infection-Associated Cancer Research Training Program in Mali

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Northwestern University (NU) and Mali’s University of Sciences, Techniques, and Technologies of Bamako (USTTB)’s Infection-Associated Cancer (NM-IAC) Research Training Program addresses a National Cancer Institute (NCI) high research priority and a significant and growing source of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Mali. In 2018, the most common four infection associate cancers (IACs, cervical, liver, gastric and lung cancers) represented more than a quarter (27%) of all registered cancers in Mali. The NM-IAC Program seeks to build an inter-disciplinary, collaborative, research-training program to train researchers in the conduct of population-based cancer epidemiology and molecular studies and advance the discovery of unique population-specific risk factors and biomarkers for the development of risk stratification and screening tools of individuals with underlying infections at increased risk of associated cancers, to improve detection, treatment, and outcomes. The NM-IAC Program will leverage our team’s extensive experience in conducting NIH-funded global health research training programs in Africa, program refinements, and highly successful training resources and outcomes of our decade-long, research-training collaboration between USTTB and NU. Our central hypothesis is that building capacity in the key disciplines involved in IACs will empower Malian and US investigators to develop and implement novel, contextually appropriate and culturally adapted risk stratification and screening tools. To achieve our goals, our specific aims are to (1) Train two (2) PhD-level cancer epidemiologists, each with a focus on one of the four IACs, capable of (i) designing and conducting population-based cancer epidemiology studies; (ii) developing protocols for biospecimen collection, processing, and storage; and (iii) evaluating population-specific biomarkers for use in screening and identifying “at-risk” populations; Two master’s-level molecular pathologists, one biostatistician, and one bio-informatician capable of (i) collecting and managing clinical, laboratory, and population-level specimens and data; (ii) using virtual modalities for training, education, and mentoring and tele-pathology for distance microscopic diagnostics and training; and (iii) performing comprehensive biostatistical and bioinformatics analyses, generated from population-level studies; (2) Enhance the knowledge and skills of existing faculty, particularly early career faculty, to contribute to and participate in interdisciplinary research teams of mechanistic and population-based studies of IACs through medium-term intensive workshops and mentored research projects, led by the scientists trained in Aim 1; and (3) Optimize engagement of public health scientists, clinicians, and health system stakeholders through workshops and seminars to disseminate knowledge about the novel epidemiological and biomarker tools and strategies, for use in new programs focused on the prevention and detection of IACs in Mali.
Effective start/end date7/1/216/30/26


  • National Cancer Institute (5D43CA260658-02)


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