Cancer Research Training Program in Tanzania

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East Africa is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, with an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases, including cancer. Cancer research in the region is nascent; however, the rising disease burden urgently demands development of research skills and capacity to establish context-specific cancer control plans. In August 2020, the UCSF Global Cancer Program in partnership with Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) received a D43 award funded by Fogarty International to formally establish a cancer research training program in Tanzania. This award is co-led by Dr. Katherine Van Loon, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Global Cancer Program Director at UCSF, and Dr. Elia Mmbaga, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at MUHAS. The overarching goal of this program is to train and mentor a cadre of investigators in Tanzania who are capable of conceptualizing, achieving funding for, implementing, analyzing and publishing original research focused on cancer.


In 2018, MUHAS received a D71 award for “Planning for a Cancer Research Training Program in Tanzania” also led by Drs. Mmbaga and Van Loon. During this one-year planning award, MUHAS and UCSF performed an assessment of the training needs of future Tanzanian scholars and an assessment of research training gaps. These assessments identified existing needs to incorporate rigorous training to improve research competencies, expand mentorship resources to empower early career investigators, and enhance research infrastructure at the institutional level. These assessments’ findings informed the design of the Cancer Research Training Program.

The Cancer Research Training Program will be composed of three unique pathways for scholars:

  1. MMed Cancer Research Pathway: Masters in Medicine students with cancer-related dissertations will participate in a structured program of intensive workshops and works-in-progress seminars
  2. Short-term Clinical Research Pathway: Clinicians seeking exposure to intensive coursework and mentorship in research methods will be selected to undertake coursework at UCSF and work within our existing collaborative research environment in Tanzania to achieve intended career development goals over a two-year period.
  3. Long-term Doctoral Level Pathway: Professionals seeking to develop an independent research career at an academic institution in Tanzania will be supported for enrollment in a doctoral degree program at MUHAS, which will incorporate rigorous methodologic coursework at UCSF.



These different pathways were designed to allow trainees to pursue varied training opportunities that align with their individual career goals and personal circumstances. The program will provide sustained mentorship for scholars in each of the three training pathways as well as training in the principles and practice of good mentorship for both mentors and mentees.

This program will leverage existing training programs at MUHAS and will also build further institutional support by expanding the training activities and strengthening the pool of mentors at MUHAS.

The first cohort of scholars will enter the program in July 2021. The program aims to create a culture in the training program that the initial cohort of scholars will serve as mentors for future scholars. The scholars will be empowered to serve as leaders in cancer research at their respective institutions in Tanzania.

Dr. Alan Ashworth, President of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF, emphasized the importance of this new award, saying, “This milestone award for the Global Cancer Program speaks to UCSF’s leadership in the field of global cancer research and education as well as the importance of collaborative partnerships. Our longstanding collaboration with MUHAS truly highlights the bi-directional benefits of partnership between our two institutions, and we look forward to continuing the collaboration through this Cancer Research Training Program.”


Application Materials and Program Specific Information:

Post Graduate Pathway

Clinician Researcher Pathway

PhD Pathway


For D43 Programmatic Updates, click here.

This publication is supported by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number D43TW011598. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.