Marianne Mureithi, Ph.D., the Chair, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Nairobi, has graduated from the inaugural cohort of the IAVI ADVANCE Leadership Development Programme (LDP). LDP is an initiative to develop a critical mass of promising scientific leaders uniquely equipped to advance the field for next-generation AIDS vaccine development in Africa and India.
Launched in July 2021, LDP is part of the capacity strengthening initiatives for Africa and India under the ADVANCE (Accelerate the Development of Vaccines and New Technologies to Combat the AIDS Epidemic) program. ADVANCE is a 10-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Through lectures and seminar series provided by a team of global experts, the programme seeks to position African scientist to play meaningful roles in setting research agenda in HIV biomedical prevention research as well as other disease areas.
“This initiative is a critical part of the long-term sustainable growth of IAVI’s CRC partner institutions and seeks to support their growth into more self-reliant, versatile centers for critically important research including HIV vaccine research and development and training,” said Daniel Ochiel, Ph.D., Senior Director – Laboratory Africa, Strategic Area lead – Capacity Strengthening at IAVI.
The LDP programme was designed to ensure that participants get a well-rounded introduction to HIV vaccine development, soft skill trainings in leadership, grantsmanship training, and mentorship from lead experts in different areas of research emphasis. The programme provides strategic value in that it formalizes leadership training and skills acquisition using a comprehensive curriculum with the following module areas: (1) epidemiology, (2) clinical trials and operations, (3) clinical and basic science, (4) an immunology mini-course, (5) community engagement and social and behavioral research, (6) personalized mentorship from renown scientists, (7) grant writing training, (8) soft skills training, (9) research ethics, (10) communication skills, and (11) data analysis and tools, conducted over the last year. Participants also develop individual career plans that are reviewed regularly with their mentors, against set goals.
The LDP curriculum included seminars, virtual lectures, training workshops in collaboration with external partners, was fully implemented for the initial cohort of 30 participants. The LDP implementation team jointly worked in partnership with IAS, the African Research Excellence Fund (AREF), and Women Lift Health strengthen capacity of participants from Africa and India.
The programme commenced following a needs assessment that involved input from Clinical Research Centers leaders to identify barrier inhibiting advancement of early career fellows to become independent scientists within the ADVANCE partner network. The assessment identified: need for stronger scientific networks and worldwide linkages by early career scientists, lack of a critical mass of research scientist within the ADVANCE partner network, need for mentorship, need of prioritization skills to enable them to meet their demanding workloads, need to engage with scientists at multiple levels, and the need to develop technical scientific and soft skills.
"The Leadership Development Programme played a significant part in my career development, as it assisted me in identifying and defining difficulties that may arise in leadership jobs, as well as gaining an understanding of various leadership styles. I was able to build a critical understanding of strategy formulation and creative idea execution. I anticipate coaching others and cultivating a new generation of competent and intelligent leaders who will ultimately improve our work and results" said Dr. Mureithi.
In 2023 the programme will enroll its second cohort from the ADVANCE partner network, implement capacity strengthening jointly with external partners. This programme seeks to nurture the next generation of leaders to attain and retain critical mass of scientists ensuring sustainability of ADVANCE partner network.
More photos from the leadership programme can be viewed here.