Volume 58, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


There are two principal rationales for doctoral training of African scientists in health: 1) these scientists are essential for the nations of sub-Saharan Africa to define and implement their own health priorities, and 2) the research they perform is essential for development. However, this training is difficult because of its expense (> $20,000 per year), because many developed country mentors are unaware of the realities of research in sub-Saharan Africa, and because major differences in salary provide a financial disincentive to return. We describe a training strategy that reduces attrition because it is linked to the investigators' responsibilities before and after training, and to home country priorities. This strategy requires a close relationship between the developing country (on-site) and developed country (off-site) mentors, with joint participation in the selection and funding process, followed by course work and short-term, independent projects off-site that lead to a thesis project in the developing country, and subsequently to a defined professional position in the developing country after completion of the doctoral degree. For this strategy to succeed, the developed country mentor must have both field experience and investigative expertise; the developing country mentor must have an understanding of modern biology, as well as clinical and epidemiologic experience. In addition, we would like to emphasize that the long-term retention of these talented, highly-trained individuals requires a similar long-term commitment by their developed country mentors, well beyond the short term of most research funding.


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