16 November 2023: Three scientists who were awarded a Career Development Fellowship by the International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infections Consortium (ISARIC) and the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE) have completed successful placements with research teams in Brazil and the Philippines.
The fellowship was awarded to Dr Dhiraj Motilal Agarwal and Dr Girish Dayma, both from KEM Hospital Research Centre in India, and Dr Jayakayatri Jeevajothi Nathan from Universiti Malaya in Malaysia. The Career Development Fellowship is a 3-month programme that includes a 2-week placement at selected sites around the world, under the supervision of clinical experts who will support the fellows in meeting their objectives.
“An unforgettable journey”
Dr Dhiraj Agarwal and Dr Jayakayatri Jeevajothi Nathan completed their placement under the supervision of with ISARIC’s South America Hub Lead Dr Fernando Bozza, and his team at Fiocruz, Brazil, which has extensive experience in developing community engagement campaigns for public health initiatives.
Dr Agarwal said: “The mentorship and resources provided have empowered me to approach challenges with confidence and creativity in the context of community engagement. The learnings from the Brazil team would help improve my country’s community engagement activities. The most significant opportunity I received through this fellowship is that it has provided a platform to discuss more research proposals and networking ideas with the mentors and their team.”
Dr Nathan added: “The days spent at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC) were filled with insightful presentations, collaborative scoping review work, and exposure to cutting-edge research. Engaging with diverse teams at PUC, FioCruz, Redes da Maré, and The Global Health Network provided invaluable insights into their impactful work.”
Meanwhile, Dr Dayma completed his placement in the Philippines, where he had an opportunity to learn from the experience of ISARIC Southeast Asia Hub Lead Dr Janice Caoili and ISARIC South Asia Hub Lead Dr Madiha Hashmi. He was involved with operationalizing the WHO-ISARIC Clinical Characterization Protocol (CCP), a standardised protocol that enables data and biological samples to be collected rapidly in a globally-harmonised manner.
“The insights I gained into the implementation of the CCP and CCA have opened up new horizons for me,” he shared. “These learnings have given me a fresh perspective, allowing me to envision how they can make a significant impact on my institute and contribute to the generation of valuable data on both a national and global scale. It has been an unforgettable journey, and I am excited to carry forward the knowledge and inspiration gained from my time.” – Dr Girish Dayma
Dr Janice Caoili, who leads clinical trials at the Tropical Disease Foundation (TDF) in the Philippines, said: “[Girish’s] visit to the TDF was also an opportunity for us to learn from him and his extensive experience as a community researcher and data quality expert. We appreciate the exchange of ideas and all his recommendations on how we can further improve our processes in data management. We are also grateful to ISARIC and RESPIRE for creating a venue for us to meet, learn from each other and collaborate for future projects.”
About the Fellowship
The fellowship aligns with ISARIC and RESPIRE’s ongoing work with networks and stakeholders around the globe to strengthen research capacity and enhance the impact of clinical research in low and middle-income countries.
“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to offer these scholarships,” said Ruth McQuillan, Co-Lead of Capacity Building Platform for RESPIRE. “We are incredibly lucky to have such talented fellows, all three of whom have now turned their attention to disseminating their learning, so that these benefits can be shared as widely as possible within the RESPIRE community and beyond. Individualised fellowships like these are a great way to enhance your career and to see things from a different perspective.”
This Fellowship is funded by a joint ISARIC/RESPIRE initiative from an ISARIC award made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE).