I am a physician (Internal medicine) based in Uganda at the Mulago National Referral Hospital, Infectious Diseases unit. I enrolled for the MSc Clinical Trials (Distance Learning) so as to attain improved expertise in understanding, designing and conducting clinical trials relevant to the practice of infectious diseases medicine in Uganda, and in Sub Saharan Africa as a whole. Prior to enrolling in the programme I was involved as a study medical officer in a couple of clinical research studies such as “Development of Antiretroviral therapy in Africa (DART)” funded by the Medical Research Council, and studies to develop treatment algorithms for HIV/AIDS subjects presenting with headache funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I found myself to be deficient in several areas of understanding and performing clinical research, in infectious diseases, such as protocol design, statistical interpretations and critical review of scientific literature. This spurred me to aspire for formal training in clinical trials. I am currently in my third, and final, year of the programme.
The training I am receiving will equip me with the following skills essential to the practice of infectious diseases medicine in my region:
- Medical Statistical acumen in reviewing, understanding and interpreting (inferring from) clinical trial publications and results. For instance, better understanding of survival analysis, regression models and measures of precision. This would enable me to synthesize and digest scientific literature so as to apply relevant interpretations to my practice setting.
- Improved skills in protocol development relevant to construction of clinical trial protocols in research questions relevant to our medical practice settings in Eastern Africa. For instance, I have been involved in designing a research protocol assessing impact of locally available food on bioavailability of a novel non-nucleoside reverse inhibitor in HIV/AIDS subjects receiving treatment.
- Improved competencies in systematic critique of published medical literature, including but not limited to journal articles in medical /scientific journals. I am involved with the advanced HIV/AIDS training programme at the Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University College of Health Sciences where I discuss recent research articles (related to HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases) among other engagements.
I aim to evolve into a proficient independent clinical researcher, with affiliation to academic medicine, informing policy and practice in infectious diseases in my region.
The ALN scholarship funding has been pivotal to my ability to undertake this training which is very important to my career and country.