K-RITH hosted its first intermediate biostatistics course in August this year, with training in R Programming.
The ambitious week-long curriculum, plus two days of training in the data analysis software R, saw students covering programming ground that is sometimes only achieved in a semester at university.
Harvard University’s Dr Lori Chibnik, who teaches the course, explained that it was developed with the help of feedback from graduates of K-RITH’s introductory biostatistics short course to be the next step in their biostatistics training evolution. Out of over 200 applicants, 33 students were selected and 15 travel scholarships were given to awardees from 10 different African countries.
Aside from helping to meet the need for quality biostatistics training in Africa, one of the goals of K-RITH’s short courses in biostatistics is to promote intra-Africa collaborations and connect researchers who do similar work.
“It’s been very interactive,” said Kalonde Malama, who works for the Rwanda/Zambia HIV Research Group. “It was useful to have the two days of R Programming before because it was incorporated into all lectures that we had. It’s been informative, and we’ve gained theoretical as well as practical knowledge of statistics.”
Kenneth Kogo, from Kenya, concurred. He works at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and statistics forms a central part of what he does. “The course has really been so enriching in terms of knowledge. The best thing about it was learning to use R,” he said.
Chibnik says she specifically chose to teach R because she needed software that would be accessible to everyone. “It’s free, it’s open source, there are a lot of different packages and it’s very Google ready. There is an extensive online community for R, anything you have a question about, someone else will have posted an answer for you.”
*Travel scholarships for the K-RITH biostatistics courses are graciously provided by 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 VictorDaitz Information Gateway and the Harvard University Centre for Aids Research.  The next Interactive Biostatistics Course takes place at K-RITH from 16-20 November, 2015.