The growth in research activity projected for the next decade by the Mozambican government and international agencies highlights the continued need for capacity building in research ethics well into the future. With the groundwork laid for systems of basic, translational, clinical and public health research, capacity development in research ethics has been essential to address critical research questions in an ethically consistent way. The four most evident areas in which attention is still needed are:
- Ethics education, review and oversight of graduate and professional student researchers and their thesis research projects
- The growth of research using biological specimens and clinical and epidemiologic data, including the development of biobanks and a national data warehouse
- Research on the prevention and treatment of infectious and non-communicable diseases
- International collaborative research that requires dual review and agreement on the authority of the potentially different regulatory requirements of partner countries.
To address the above needs, we have formed a consortium of partners consisting of University Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique; Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and University of Texas Southwestern called the Collaborative Research Ethics Education program (Formação Colaborativa em Etica na Pesquisa, FoCEP).
Since its launch in 2014, the FoCEP program has focused on supporting the education and research of Master’s students in Public Health at UEM with a special emphasis on research ethics; in modernizing and strengthening the instruction of research ethics in UEM’s health sciences education, and in strengthening the functioning and capacity of Mozambique’s newly created network of Institutional Research Ethics Committees (REC).
Renewed for a second five-year period, our Specific Aims currently are to:
- Expand of the cadre of Mozambican leaders in biomedical research with in-depth knowledge and practical skills in both research design and the ethical conduct of clinical and epidemiologic research through a tailored Master of Public Health (MPH) program and masters-level curriculum enhancements at University Eduardo Mondlane’s Faculty of Medicine (Mozambique’s primary medical school).
- Enhancement of the knowledge and practical skills of Mozambican REC members and research educators in research ethics, the responsible conduct of research, and research integrity.
- Further creation, evaluation, and distribution of curricular materials on research ethics and the responsible conduct of research tailored to Portuguese-speaking Africa.
Currently, three FoCEP scholars are working towards their MPH degree at UEM with a special emphasis on biomedical ethics. Their training includes participation in a monthly virtual seminar series on topics of relevance in biomedical ethics and focusing their master’s thesis to topics that include an ethics-based research question. These scholars are also working with MPI Esperança Sevene and the FoCEP team on a research protocol assessing the ethical implications on research, ethics committees, and healthcare access in Mozambique during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fogarty International Center (FIC) supports this project under agreement 5R25TW009722.