Global Health

June 10, 2024

Vanderbilt researchers establish biomedical informatics training program in Mozambique

Building sustainable biomedical informatics training and research capacity to address gaps in Mozambique’s national HIV response will help the country leverage newer data-driven and genetics-based approaches for personalized HIV care and molecular epidemiology of the disease.

In collaboration with Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) located in Maputo, Mozambique, the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) has been awarded a five-year, $1.2 million training grant by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health to establish the first biomedical informatics (BMI) training program for scholars and fellows using computational and information sciences approaches, primarily in biology and human health. 

“The Vanderbilt-Mozambique Biomedical Informatics (VM-BMI) training and research program focused on HIV is the first of its kind in Portuguese-speaking (Lusophone) African countries. It will help the government of Mozambique accelerate its progress toward HIV epidemic control, which is now within reach given the numerous programmatic advances and successes the country has made during recent years,” said C. William Wester, MD, MPH, co-principal investigator and professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC).  

Mozambique is a Southern African country with the fourth-highest global HIV disease burden. Despite considerable improvement in Mozambique’s national HIV response, significant gaps persist, including numerous incident infections, large number of people living with HIV unaware of their status, and challenges in achieving viral load suppression in certain groups. Building sustainable BMI training and research capacity to address these gaps will help the country leverage newer data-driven and genetics-based approaches for personalized HIV care and molecular epidemiology of the disease.  

“For over a decade, successful training programs between UEM and VUMC have focused on building research capacity in infectious diseases, implementation science, research ethics and research administration. VM-BMI will leverage VUMC’s leadership in biomedical informatics to empower our Mozambican colleagues to lead their own BMI training and research programs. UEM will be well-positioned to sustain its own programs and be a training hub of BMI excellence for other Lusophone African countries,” said Martin Were, MD, MS, co-principal investigator and professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine at VUMC.  

The program will train six Mozambican faculty fellows in its first two years to build UEM’s capacity for a self-sustaining HIV-focused BMI research portfolio. VM-BMI will also support development of a BMI track within an existing informatics master’s program at UEM. The new BMI track will be implemented in the last three years of the project, with VM-BMI offering scholarships to 10 students enrolled in this track. VM-BMI will also conduct annual HIV-related BMI workshops and bootcamps at UEM to provide BMI research training and practical experience addressing HIV-relevant research questions in Mozambique, with the goal of training 200 individuals in five years. 

The core leadership team of Martin Were, MD, MS, professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine at VUMC; C. William Wester, MD, MPH, professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at VUMC; Baltazar Chilundo, PhD, associate professor in Public Health at UEM and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington Department of Global Health; and Emilio Mosse, PhD MS, assistant professor of Information Systems in the Faculty of Science at UEM, will serve as co-principal investigators. 

This program is supported by NIH grant D43TW012750.