Seven universities selected to host international postgraduate training scheme

TDR news item
8 June 2015

Seven universities from low- and middle-income countries have been selected to host the TDR international postgraduate training scheme in implementation research to improve health. There are 3 universities in Africa, 2 in Asia, and 1 each in Latin America and the Middle Eastern region. Each will serve students from their regions.

The new plan will provide up to US$ 13 million in support for over 200 PhD and Masters degree students in the next 4 years. The grants are available to students from low- and middle-income countries. The goal is to enhance graduate training capacity and boost the number of researchers in these countries, and provide regional support through these universities and the Regional Training Centres supported by TDR.

TDR Director John Reeder says, “This is a sea change for us. We are moving from managing individual training grants from Geneva to strengthening ongoing programmes at major universities in disease-endemic countries, where the work needs to take place.”

The first round of grants will take place for this academic year, with each university announcing its own application process that will also be advertised in the TDR network. In each region, successful applicants will be enrolled as postgraduate students in these universities, and their careers tracked with the new TDR Global alumni and stakeholder platform that will be launched in the next year, providing ongoing monitoring of the impact of the programme.

Why implementation research support?

Implementation research is a growing field that supports the identification of health system bottlenecks and approaches to address them, and is particularly useful in low- and middle-income countries where many health interventions do not reach those who need them the most.

The universities selected

Of the 49 applications submitted, 7 were selected for site visits and approved for funding. Each university is expected to manage around 5-10 postgraduate fellowships supported by TDR each year.

James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh

The James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) is situated in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Established in 2004, it is a collaborative effort of BRAC (the largest non-government organisation in the world), BRAC University (a private university established in 2001), and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b). The focus of JPGSPH is to provide access to education, research and advocacy though integration and innovation. The School uses a multidisciplinary and cutting-edge approach which places experts in the service of society, and train the next generation of global and national health leaders. This practical conversion of knowledge at JPGSPH is applicable in both local and global contexts.

The School collaborates globally with leading schools of public health. A total of 336 students from 26 mostly low- and middle-income countries have graduated from JPGSPH so far. The education and research goals of the James P Grant School of Public Health are actualised by its target group of public health professionals through its flagship educational programme, the Master of Public Health (MPH).

Universidad de Antioquia, National School of Public Health, Colombia

University of Antioquia is a public institution founded in 1803, providing postgraduate training to 2400 students a year, among 39000, mostly Colombian nationals. The National School of Public Health has an epidemiology team with infectious diseases background and provides PhD and MSc training in epidemiology, with the support of other infectious disease research groups at the university. The training programmes are conducted in Spanish, encouraging the participation of students from different countries in Latin America.

The total student enrolment is 39 000 with 7% of this number registered for graduate studies.

University of Ghana, School of Public Health, Ghana

Established in 1948, the University of Ghana is located in Accra. The University’s School of Public Health (SPH) was developed in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service and has a reputation for leadership and competence in the field of implementation research. The School offers courses in English leading to masters and doctoral degrees in Public Health with concentrations on biostatistics, epidemiology, health policy and planning and applied social sciences in health. The School hosts the TDR-supported Regional Training Centre for Africa where the competence is focused on implementation research.

The total student enrolment is over 38 000 with 13% of this number registered for graduate studies.

Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) is a comprehensive university with 18 Faculties and 2 Schools. Established in 1946, the Faculty of Medicine currently offers 6 master-level programmes in public health, tropical medicine, biomedical science, medical education, nursing, and clinical medicine. The international master programme in public health is taught in English. Faculty of Medicine hosts the TDR-supported Regional Training Centre for South East Asia where the competence is focused on implementation research. Established research centres at the Faculty promote and conduct health-related research, with extensive collaborations among leading medical and public health institutions and networks in the world.

The total student enrolment at the University is over 15 500 annually with 34% of this number registered for postgraduate studies. The Faculty of Medicine has an annual admission of over 1 100 students, 60% for postgraduate programmes.

American University of Beirut, Faculty of Health Sciences, Lebanon

Founded in 1866, the American University of Beirut is a teaching-centered research university. The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) was established in 1954 as the first independent, self-governed school of public health in the Arab world. FHS offers an interdisciplinary graduate public health program that combines the biomedical, epidemiological, environmental, socio-behavioral, and management dimensions of public health. The graduate program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health in the USA. Classes are taught in English. Students come largely from Lebanon and the Arab region, with a growing proportion of international students.

The total student enrolment at AUB is 8000 with 19% of this number registered for graduate studies.

University of the Witwatersrand, School of Public Health, South Africa

Established in 1896 in Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand offers several high quality postgraduate programmes in the field of public health, including Master of Science and PhD degree programmes with a concentration in implementation science. The programme developed in collaboration with the University of North Carolina is considered the first of its kind in Africa. Classes are taught in English.

The university has over 31 000 students with about 35% registered for postgraduate programmes. Postgraduate students come mostly from sub- Saharan Africa (71%).

University of Zambia, Department of Public Health, Zambia

Established in 1965, the University of Zambia offers masters-level courses in several disciplines including public health. The faculty of public health have TB/HIV research collaborations and expertise in implementation research; a mentorship programme is planned for the grant recipients.

The university has an annual admission of over 28,000 students (approximately 5% for postgraduate programs).

For more information, contact Olumide Ogundahunsi (

Calls for applications will be announced on the TDR website and at each university, with some starting as soon as 15 June. To receive updates, subscribe to the TDR Scientist news, and TDR news.