Regional Training Centers

An introduction to the TDR network

TDR news item
2 July 2015

TDR’s mission has always been two-fold: to develop new tools and strategies, but also to strengthen research capacity and leadership in disease endemic countries. And in pursuing the latter, TDR has in recent years taken a new tack, equipping institutions in each of the six WHO regions to coordinate training courses across multiple countries, leading to improved use of health interventions where those interventions are most needed.

Training workshop in Tunis
WHO/TDR/Aslanyan

Together, these regional training centres form a network designed to foster learning and collaboration not only within their respective regions but also among one another, thereby amplifying their collective impact. And though several centers were only recently established, the group has already begun to forge ties and share knowledge around how to address infectious disease of poverty.

In selecting members of the network, TDR took into account the specific health needs of the region in question, identified those institutions best positioned to respond, and committed to two years of technical and financial support for the development of the RTC. And while the centers vary in both the expertise they bring to the network and the needs of the populations they serve, all share a common vision: to develop a cadre of highly skilled health professionals through courses on the organization, management and conduct of health research with special emphasis on good health research practices and implementation research .

The sites include:

Relying on materials developed by TDR experts, RTC courses focus mainly, though not exclusively, on intervention and implementation research. Designed to fill gaps in learning, they cover material not readily available in scientific curricula or in the workplace ̶ topics like “project management,” “research leadership” and “scientific paper writing,” all of which help to enhance the quality of scientists’ work and to make them more effective in competing for the research grants necessary to sustain a career.

There are several levels of materials for implementation research (IR). The Ghana centre is developing a 5 day workshop based on the TDR Implementation Research Toolkit. All centres are working to develop a massive open online course (MOOC) on the topic to help explain and clarify this type of research through case studies, lectures and links to other resources.

Project planning was the start of a full line of courses

The network began in 2007 with the Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia. The group there started using the TDR Effective Project Planning and Evaluation training course (EPPE), then translated it into Spanish and developed an online version. Since becoming a Regional Training Centre, CIDEIM has added more courses on good clinical practice, data analysis and budget planning, and made those available online, as well.

“We collaborate with researchers throughout Latin America,” says Andres Jaramillo, coordinator of research and training at Colombia’s CIDEIM. A new course on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for health research is currently being designed and developed with the support of a TDR impact grant. CIDEIM will also enhance teleconferencing capabilities, expand courses to trainers in Bolivia and Paraguay, and pilot a Spanish language version of some English courses.

During a 2010 meeting in Geneva of all the regional training centres, the need for a training programme in good health research practice was identified. By 2014, the first version was tested in Germany, again in 2013 in Indonesia, and is now being piloted in Kazakhstan in Russian and will be piloted in Latin America (in Spanish) at the end of 2015.

Other courses on good clinical practice and on good clinical laboratory practice skill building and train-the-trainers have been also been developed by the network, and will be piloted in Indonesia in October.


For more information, contact Pascal Launois (launoisp@who.int).