In the Direction of Impactful Research

In the Direction of Impactful Research
October 21, 2020 Center for Surgery and Public Health

Aga Khan University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard researchers come together for a course on research fundamentals

By Haniya Javed

Researchers from Aga Khan University (AKU) Medical College joined the Center for Surgery and Public Health (CSPH) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School Program for Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC), for a summer course about the fundamentals of research. The course – organized every year as a collaboration between CSPH and PGSSC – invited 20 AKU research fellows and medical students, residents, fellows, faculty and staff to learn about research methods, study designs, biostatistics, global surgery and health policy, among other key subjects.

An amazing partnership between AKU, CSPH and PGSSC … not only brought new ideas to the table but also reinstated the notion about how collaborations and skill building lead to meaningful, impactful research.

AKU fellows, who work on various high-impact clinical and translational research projects on the populations AKU serves, spent five weeks learning about basic and advanced techniques in health services research. They attended online lectures and participated in discussions with guest speakers, who encouraged them to pursue meaningful investigations.

“An amazing partnership between AKU, CSPH and PGSSC … not only brought new ideas to the table but also reinstated the notion about how collaborations and skill building lead to meaningful, impactful research,” said Gezzer Ortega, MD, MPH, co-organizer of the course on research and the Lead Faculty for Research and Innovation for Equitable Surgical Care at CSPH.

“It was amazing to learn from experts who had their careers molded in full-time research work, the methodologies they are proficient in, and the impact of global researches on their careers,” said Dr Nabeel Sheikh, a 2019 fellow, pursuing research in oncology at AKU.

The short course covered a wide array of topics from writing manuscripts and abstracts to building careers in academic surgery to using artificial intelligence and biomarkers in studies.

“We are always open to new teaching collaborations,” said Molly Jarman, PhD, MPH, co-organizer of the course on research, instructor and lead research faculty for Health Informatics and Data Infrastructure, CSPH. “Several AKU alumni in the past have had productive research fellowships at CSPH, which affirms that joint partnerships between the two institutes will continue as new research opportunities arise.”

The added perspectives of researchers from the diverse backgrounds of AKU, CSPH, and PGSSC were an unforeseen benefit to the course.  The questions and discussions possible in the “office hours” held by the faculty of the course showed how all of us share so much in our research while having different foci in our individual pursuits.

The course is highly adaptive to the needs of researchers and is innovated every year to bring in new ideas and prevailing trends in the world of research. The CSPH faculty aim to address work on COVID-19 outbreak projects into lectures and discussions in next year’s program.

“The added perspectives of researchers from the diverse backgrounds of AKU, CSPH, and PGSSC were an unforeseen benefit to the course.  The questions and discussions possible in the “office hours” held by the faculty of the course showed how all of us share so much in our research while having different foci in our individual pursuits,” said Scott Corlew, MD, MPH, co-organizer of the course, and a PGSSC faculty member.

“The collaboration with PGSSC and CSPH on understanding research trends and methodologies exposes our fellows to the global trends in research very early in their career,” said Dr Shahzad Shamim, associate professor and service line chief in the department of surgery, and the lead of DCRF programme at AKU. “Interactions like these will set AKU in the right direction of collaborative and impactful research in future.”