Holly Cassell
March 30, 2021

In continuing, longstanding research collaborations between the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and Bayero University Kano (BUK) in Kano, Nigeria, and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH), the three institutions are partnering on a new Infrastructure Development Training Program from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The project will strengthen infrastructure capacity in research administration and research ethics in Nigeria. The Vanderbilt-Nigeria Research Administration and Management Training Program (V-RAMP) will leverage senior research management’s extensive expertise at Vanderbilt. This project expands the decade-long Vanderbilt-AKTH partnership, evidenced by their highly successful, collaborative, and rapidly expanding portfolio of NIH-funded research in Nigeria.

Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, has seen significant expansion in biomedical research. The increasing volume and complexity of Nigeria’s research activities necessitate measures to improve infrastructure in grants administration (project management, financial accountability, reporting and compliance oversight) and to strengthen ethical frameworks to protect the rights and welfare of research participants. V-RAMP will establish a high-quality research administration environment that is knowledgeable and compliant with the fiscal, management, and ethical standards of sponsored research through fellowships at Vanderbilt, skills-building courses in Nigeria, and administrative process improvements, such as the creation of a Community Advisory Board (CAB).

Zubairu Iliyasu, MBBS, PhD, professor of Public Health at AKTH/BUK and chair of Nigeria’s foremost national ethical research regulatory body (NHREC); Muktar Aliyu, MBBS, DrPH, professor of Medicine and Health Policy at VUMC and VIGH Associate Director for Research; and C. William Wester MD, MPH, professor of Medicine at VUMC, will lead the program in partnership with the senior research administration team: Aliyu Abdu, MBBS, professor of Medicine and Chair of the College of Health Sciences IRB at BUK; Bilya Musa, BS, head of the AKTH Office of Research Administration; Donna Ingles, MS, MPH, and Holly Cassell, MPH, Assistant Directors at VIGH; and Wendy Lloyd, RN, CCRP, Sr. Research Analyst with the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

“Our collaboration with colleagues at Vanderbilt has placed Kano and Nigeria on the global research map,” says Dr. Iliyasu. “The V-RAMP grant will build institutional research administration capacity at AKTH/BUK and ensure effective, ethical oversight and community engagement, in line with global best practices. It gives me great joy to have the opportunity to co-lead the implementation of this important project.” 

Dr. Aliyu emphasized the potential impact that complementary investments in research administration infrastructure would have on sustaining and scaling up research productivity at AKTH/BUK. “Pre- and post-award grants management is critical to the success of sponsored research. Effective pre- and post-award processes will help streamline grant submissions and ensure compliance to sponsor requirements and the efficient post-award implementation of research programs at AKTH/BUK. This award comes at the right time given the significantly increased volume of our collaborative research activities taking place in Nigeria.”

Dr. Wester added, “I feel incredibly honored to be part of such an exceptional team. Enhancing research ethics capacity and deepening involvement and ties with the community via the establishment of a Community Advisory Board (CAB) is an integral next step to help build trust and mutual understanding of research issues and ensure that local values and cultural perspectives are respected.” 

This work is supported by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number G11 TW011819.