Planning Grant for Emerging Virus Research Training in Sierra Leone
**Activity #1.** To develop and perform a needs assessment for clinical research training in viral emerging infectious diseases at the College of Medical and Allied Health Sciences in Sierra Leone.
**Activity #2.** To undertake a preliminary assessment of local investigators to explore the feasibility of establishing a network of clinical research expertise in multiple locations that could rapidly respond to research needs in the event of an outbreak.
**Activity #3.** To identify training programs and educational resources at Duke University that would benefit the clinical and epidemiologic research training needs at COMAHS.
Project Policy Impact Description
Following the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Sierra Leone College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and Duke University seek to develop a training program to advance research capacity for viral emerging infectious diseases. Building upon existing relationships with Sierra Leone investigators and leaders, as well as lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak, Duke University will work closely with colleagues at COMAHS to leverage expertise in infectious disease, medical and research training, extensive clinical research expertise and a strong commitment to global health equity in this effort. With receipt of this planning award, we will develop and perform a clinical research needs assessment in Sierra Leone; identify specific clinical research training opportunities at COMAHS that would benefit from Duke's support, experience, and training resources; and conduct a preliminary feasibility assessment of investigators, with the long term goal of increasing the research capacity throughout Sierra Leone. We will bring together the experience of the healthcare community in Sierra Leone and the multiple resources available throughout Duke University and Medical Center together with collaborating entities to create a combination of online and classroom-based didactic training opportunities, 'real-world' internship opportunities to observe how clinical research is conducted in various settings, and novel trial simulations in clinical research. This type of collaboration and preparation would help bring together and prepare the healthcare community in Sierra Leone, ultimately enabling their capacity to rapidly implement therapeutic or vaccine trials during a future outbreak. We believe this program is critical to empower West African communities to be able to participate more fully in responses to emerging viral epidemics.