K-RITH hosted the fifth edition of its Interactive Biostatistics Course in May.

Dr Lori Chibnik, PhD, MPH, a biostatistician and Assistant Professor at Harvard University, returned to teach the popular course. This time she was joined by Dr Vanessa Xanthakis, PhD, a biostatistician and Assistant Professor at Boston University.

The course was well attended with 38 scientists travelling to K-RITH from 15 different African countries.

The students were selected from a highly competitive list of over 300 applicants and given travel scholarships graciously provided by our funders: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Victor Daitz Information Gateway and the Harvard University Centre for Aids Research.
“Teaching this course is one of my favourite things I do all year,” said Dr Chibnik, going on to comment that the students are enthusiastic about science and research, and eager to learn skills in biostatistics. “It’s a dream combination for anyone who loves to teach.”

As with the previous classes, the feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive. One student, Robert Zulu, a clinician and researcher from Zambia said: “I enjoyed it and was kept on my feet from the way [Lori] presented the biostats course.” Nicollete Okoko, a clinical researcher from Kenya, added that: “the course was one of the best and I was actually amazed at what Excel can do. My colleagues back here in Kenya are equally surprised. I have given feedback to a few and am planning to mentor others already.”

One goal of this course, in addition to teaching biostatistics, is to promote more inter-African research collaborations. At the end of the week many of the students returned to their home institutions with new ideas, collaborators and friends.

“We have a great time learning biostatistics but we also get to learn what the others are doing in their projects. This forms a good departure point for networking and forming friendships. Last year for instance I made a good friend in a fellow attendee Jade Caris Mogambery. We follow each other’s lives and careers. It is awesome,” commented Fiona Mumoki Muchunga – who attended the course last year.

*A Second Level Advanced Interactive Biostatistics Course, including an Introduction to R Programming class, is planned for November 2015.  Applications will be opening soon.  A film recording of the First Level course will be available in late 2015.