HDFCCC Received D43 Award from Fogarty International to Build a Cancer Research Training Program in Tanzania

The Global Cancer Program at HDFCCC, in partnership with Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), received a D43 award to formally establish a cancer research training program in Tanzania. 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. This D43 was awarded by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health.  Katherine Van Loon (UCSF) and Elia Mmbaga (MUHAS) are Co-Principal Investigators for the award.


Dr. Katherine Van Loon, Director of the Global Cancer Program, explains the importance of this new program, stating, “This award is a landmark accomplishment in the longstanding collaboration between MUHAS and UCSF.  It provides us with a tremendous opportunity to invest in training and mentoring individuals who we believe will be the future leaders in cancer control planning in Africa.”


The Cancer Research Training Program in Tanzania will be implemented at MUHAS in Dar es Salaam and leverages a longstanding relationship between MUHAS and UCSF. Dr. Elia Mmbaga, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics emphasizes, This D43 could not have come at a better time than now when the newly established [non-communicable diseases] program at the Ministry of Health needs evidence to inform cancer control policies in Tanzania." 


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 that will be implemented through the D43.


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.  Mentorship will be a key component for success in each of the pathways, as Dr. Van Loon explains, “As we shift our attention to cancer and other non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, there is a notable lack of data on cancer that has been generated from within the region.  To advance this field, it is critical that we invest in mentoring researchers from within the region.”

This program will leverage existing training programs at MUHAS and will also build further institutional support by expanding the training activities as well as the pool of mentors and future leaders of cancer control research in Tanzania. The MUHAS-Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI)-UCSF Cancer Collaboration in Tanzania is well poised to lead this effort. "Despite being the only cancer research group at MUHAS, the MUHAS-ORCI-UCSF collaboration is unique in that, it focuses on both, conducting high quality research along the whole cancer care continuum [as well as] training researchers for sustainable cancer research in Tanzania and beyond," says Dr. Mmbaga.

Dr. Alan Ashworth, President of the HDFCCC, 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.”



This publication was 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.