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Special Topics | Sustainable Sciences Institute


Workshops: Special Topics

LogFrameProcess_impactevaluationworkshop_HZTanzania2009In addition to our Laboratory and Epidemiology Techniques and Writing Workshops, we offer additional workshops in a flexible format that caters to particular needs of groups as requested. We currently offer the following Special Topic Workshops:

Ethical Issues in Health Research

Scientific research presents a myriad of ethical dilemmas. In addition to the issues faced by all researchers, researchers in the developing world are faced with the ethical implications of international collaborations and in many instances, lack of knowledge on how to make informed decisions about the ethical issues they face. The Ethical Issues in Health Research Workshop presents participants with a range of ethical dilemmas including: informed consent, research on human subjects, genetic research, and a research study’s responsibility to the community. As part of the interactive workshop, participants learn about the procedures in human subject research and are presented with a variety of case studies that are examined and discussed. At the end of the workshop, participants are expected to have the knowledge that enables them to make informed decisions and influence local decision-making on the ethical issues that affect their research and their communities.

Bioinformatics and Genome Sequence Analysis

In an age of ultra-deep sequencing technology, genetic information is overwhelmingly abundant. However, despite the enormous amount of data and software available online for free, most bioinformatics research is done in developed nations. Our Bioinformatics and Genome Sequence Analysis Workshop remedies this situation by teaching developing country scientists how to access public domain genetic data and use phylogenetic analysis programs to perform bioinformatics analysis on sequences generated from local microbial genetic material. The workshop involves a demonstration of the analysis of DNA/RNA sequences of infectious diseases relevant to the trainees. After the demonstration, participants are given the opportunity to conduct a similar analysis, thus providing them with greater understanding of the process and the capacity to expand their research.

Impact Assessment for Public Health

The primary learning objective of the Impact Evaluation for Public Health Workshop is to provide participants with the ability to: 1) distinguish research-based “good practices” from those that have not been rigorously evaluated; and 2) understand the value and practice impact evaluation within the public health community. Workshop content includes the basics of impact evaluation theory (causal inference, experimental design, basics statistics, etc.) and methods (randomization, difference-in-difference, regression, discontinuity, propensity score matching, etc.) as applied to public health interventions in underserved communities. As part of the training, instruction sessions are complemented by case studies, hands-on experiences with research design and data analysis are offered, and participant groups receive feedback from the instructors as well as the other workshop participants in an interactive and collaborative forum after presenting their own impact evaluation research plan. A basic familiarity with statistics is strongly recommended for all participants, as well as relevant experience in public health research and intervention strategies.

eHealth Decision Making: Information and Communication Technologies in Public Health

The primary learning objective of the eHealth and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for Public Health Workshop is to provide participants with: 1) an overview of the state of eHealth tools currently available for use in the public health sector; 2) a familiarity with specific health information management and mobile health data collection systems and software (with a focus on open source tools); and 3) an understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in implementing ICT systems depending on a particular set of infrastructure limitations (internet connectivity, cell phone coverage, electricity and power needs, etc.), cost barriers, and information security needs. Workshop content is targeted at 3 main stakeholder groups: healthcare managers and decision makers in the public sector (Ministries of Health), primary care professionals and public health workers, and health informatics and technical specialists. As part of the training, instruction sessions are complemented by case studies, hands-on experiences with various existing software (patient medical record systems, inventory tracking systems, mobile data collection tools) and hardware (mobile phones, PDAs, netbooks) are offered, and participant groups receive feedback regarding their specific information technology needs from experts in the eHealth field. Workshops will be tailored to the content areas most appropriate for participants, with a flexible format designed to incorporate the rapidly evolving changes in the field of ICT for Health.

Laboratory Information Management Systems: Virology

The primary learning objective of the Laboratory Information Management Systems Workshop is to provide virology researchers and associated data managers with: 1) an overview of laboratory information management challenges and opportunities; 2) a familiarity with sample storage, tracking and inventory management systems (including barcode identification and scanning systems, labeling and cold storage issues, etc); 3) an understanding of how to create automated work protocols for molecular biological, serological, and cell culture techniques; 4) how to use information technologies to improve quality control and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) compliance; and 5) hands-on experience with software tools and database management systems currently available (e.g., PDAs, bar codes, etc.). Workshop content is targeted at laboratory data managers and informatics specialists as well as laboratory technicians. As part of the training, instruction sessions are complemented by examples of laboratory information systems for managing virology research and diagnostic labs, and training on web-based or web-enabled software for data collection, quality control, analysis, and presentation. Workshops will be tailored to the content areas most appropriate for participants, with a flexible format designed to incorporate the rapidly evolving changes in the field of information technologies and laboratory diagnostic and reporting needs.