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JAS 1 Cohort 2

posted Apr 1, 2012, 10:03 AM by Makau Ngola   [ updated Apr 2, 2012, 5:16 AM ]
CARTA Fellows cohort 2 participated in their first CARTA Joint Advanced Seminar (JAS 1) held in Nairobi from March 5, 2012 to March 30, 2012. JAS 1 also provided an opportunity to both the fellows and CARTA Secretariat to meet face-to-face, for the first time.  Fellows were each formally inducted into and registered in the CARTA program and issued with tools needed for their fellowship.  These included a laptop installed with software used in research among others, including Stata, Stata Transfer, Nvivo, EndNote, MS Office and an anti-virus.

During the life of the fellowship, fellows take part in 4 compulsory Joint Academic Seminars, all residential and lasting for a period of 3 to 6 weeks.  Each JAS is designed to impact a distinct skill to the fellows.  Fellows’ participation in the JAS serves to expose them to key theories and concepts, seminal readings, and research methods of disciplines relevant to public and population health, be equipped in critical research skills, and to build and maintain a network of researchers for scientific collaborations, professional support, and mutually beneficial exchange of scientific resources.

JAS 1 aims at building critical thinking, technical skills, and other core research competencies among the fellows who were introduced to the essential concepts and seminal articles of the disciplines.  JAS 1 for cohort 2 was facilitated by renowned academicians from the South and the North.  Lectures were delivered and group work for the fellows given, with presentations and evaluations at the end of each session done online in the CARTA website followed by weekly evaluations.

Fellows spent the first 2 weeks in Nairobi and spent the third in the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI Wellcome Trust) facility in Kilifi. It was planned that the fellows experience first-hand the goings-on in a world class research environment as well as, meet established researchers for purposes of establishing working professional networks.  Kemri Kilifi Wellcome Trust facility has one of the best research laboratories manned by experienced researchers.

The sessions were held at a the Kemri Kilifi Wellcome Trust training facility in a computer laboratory equipped by CARTA.  What followed for the fellows in the next seven days was a wonderful and long lasting professional experience.  Apart from presentations, field visits to Kemri DSS sites located at the Ganze District Hospital and a meeting with Kemri Community Representatives (KCR) in Kilifi; helped to expose fellows to real health setting situations where research, treatment, and community engagement in research took place.  A meeting with KCR helped to highlight community’s concerns in a research setting and how the issues identified are resolved.
  They learned from KCR, issues of ethics as viewed by the community and interventions the community representatives put in place in conjunction with Kemri Wellcome Trust to resolve.
The fellows were addressed and or met with researchers and post-doctoral fellows at the Kemri Wellcome Trust facility in Kilifi. This was organized so, that the fellows network with practitioners and also, get to know the actual goings-on in a real research situation. At the end of the visit, the fellows expressed their appreciation for the visit to Kemri Wellcome Trust in Kilifi, citing the excellent organization by Kemri Wellcome Trust facility represented by CARTA focal person and Kemri Wellcome Trust Kilifi Training Coordinator, Dr. Samson Kinyanjui.  The JAS sessions were held at a computer laboratory equipped by CARTA.

Week 4 and the last, was organized so that fellows meet with their supervisors who were also in Nairobi for a CARTA organized training session on supervision.  Supervisors met with their candidates and reviewed fellows’ research areas.  At a plenary session, each fellow presented their research area, the topic and design and got positive criticism that would enhance their research.

On the last day, in the afternoon, the fellows accompanied by some supervisors paid a courtesy call to the Executive Director African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and Director of CARTA , Dr. Alex Ezeh at the new APHRC Headquarters, in Kitsuru.  They toured the facility and posed for a group photograph.

What follows now for the fellows, after JAS 1 in Nairobi, are a set of rigorous exercises and activities, referred to as inter JAS activities which will prepare the fellows for JAS 2 to be held in November/ December 2012 at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

During JAS 1, needs of all the fellows were met in as far as CARTA could know them including personal as well as gender related ones.  CARTA facilitated the participation of a fellow, Scovia Nalugo Mbalinda of Makerere University, who brought her infant baby Ryan Aaron Ntare Mwine-Mbalinda along with the Nanny to Nairobi and Kilifi during the entire duration of JAS 1. This is not the first time CARTA is doing it.  Last year in cohort 1, a fellow, Victoria Mwakalinga also brought her baby and nanny for JAS 1 in Nairobi at CARTA’s expense.

 Although it seemed a long stay for the fellows, but the care and engagement by CARTA helped them to concentrate and did not notice the passing of time.