Research addressing the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of epilepsy and childhood neurological disorders, as well as implementation of diagnostic and treatment services, is urgently needed in Africa. The burden of epilepsy and child neurological disorders in Africa is very high. Neurological syndromes unique to sub-Saharan Africa have been described, with many more likely awaiting discovery. Currently most children with treatable neurological disorders in sub-Saharan Africa (e.g., epilepsy) are neither diagnosed nor treated. Most of the knowledge base childhood neurological disorders is based upon research from North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim, where the population genomics and environmental causal factors are different from Africa. Large-scale epidemiology studies, clinical trials, development of diagnostic technologies, and implementation science research in Africa are required to close this knowledge gap. There are no well-developed collaboratives of child neurology and epilepsy researchers that cover a large relatively homogenous population of children in Africa.
This project, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH)-Bayero University Kano (BUK)-Vanderbilt: Developing Future Leaders in Child Neurology and Epilepsy Research (ABV), will build upon a solid foundation of successful NIH-funded collaborations between Vanderbilt, BUK and AKTH in child neurology and epilepsy to develop a cadre of physician-scientists in northern Nigeria- a region with a population of over 100 million people, half of whom are children. Based in Kano, the hub of northern Nigeria, ABV will over five years provide research training and mentoring for three groups of future research leaders in northern Nigeria: (1) ABV Faculty Fellows selected to develop and teach new courses at BUK targeting the needs of future research leaders in child neurology and epilepsy, under the mentorship of Vanderbilt faculty; (2) ABV Scholars who will complete the MScPH degree at BUK, launching their own research projects co-mentored by Vanderbilt and AKTH/BUK faculty, and attending the Vanderbilt Institute for Research Development and Ethics, where they will learn to write, submit and administer their own grants; and, (3) ABV Executive Scholars, mid-career physician-investigators who will devote half-time for up to two years to enhance their skills in an area of child neurology or epilepsy research, working under a mentor and taking selected courses at BUK. ABV Scholars and ABV Executive Scholars will be recruited from not only Kano, but also from sister institutions in the other major cities within northern Nigeria. The ABV alumni will form a collaborative network across northern Nigeria to address critical research needs in child neurology and epilepsy.