Capacity Strengthening through Research Leaders in Health Research

In early 2009, the Consortium put out a call for Research Leadership Grants (RLG) to strengthen research-for-health capacity. The call targeted research leaders working in public and private teaching and research institutions, and engaged in high quality, relevant research aligned to the country’s development goals.

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The successful applicants (Principal Investigators, referred to as `Research Leaders’) were Senior Researchers (SRs), with proven track record of mentoring and undertaking funded, collaborative multidisciplinary research for health evidenced by consistent publications in international peer-reviewed, high impact factor-rated journals.

Broadly, the roles of the Research Leader(s) are to:
  • a) Clear the research pathway by coming up with new but relevant ideas for research, and transform these into fundable research projects;
  • b) Lay down, in consultation with relevant institutions, clear career pathways for trainees within the research projects;
  • c) Look for resources to carry out the research; and
  • d) Systematically guide (“pull”) young trainees along the established career pathways to a point where they (the trainees) are able to stand on their own as independent researchers.

Since the RLG was for capacity strengthening, the successful research leader applicant needed to demonstrate commitment to provide mentorship in the research and training at postgraduate level (Masters, Doctoral and Postdoctoral) of young talented Kenyans (Research Training Fellows -RTFs). Research Leaders are invited to propose to undertake a research project that describes the research to be undertaken;

  • a) The type of capacity-strengthening training for young Kenyans as a component of the research; and
  • b) Infrastructure upgrading necessary to support the proposed research and training.

The Research Leaders should be prepared to assist the trainees advance in their work as leaders in the execution of research, or in the application of research for better health policy and health system management, along well-defined career pathways. All these should converge on an overall strategy for building a critical mass of researchers through professional and career development specifically designed to strengthen the young trainees’ technical expertise, leadership abilities, partnership skills and other qualities.