Has the network helped you in your work or professional development? Please tell us, and share your story.

Henok Negussie, Trial Co-ordinator, Gojjam Lymphoedema Best practice trial (GoLBet); PhD Student (University of Sussex Chancellor’s International Research Scholarship, 2013-2016) and Research Training Fellow-The Wellcome Trust Centre for Global Health Research, Brighton & Sussex Medical School (BSMS):

I’m currently working on a PhD, and am a training fellow with the Wellcome Trust Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research, focusing on Podoconiosis research.

The Global Health Network has been really helpful to me. I think it’s easy to access, and full of beautifully written and very practical material. We have translated some of the material into Amharic and used it to train all 30 of our data collectors in our trial sites in northern Ethiopia. Most of our investigators have also used it to get certified in Good Clinical Practice. One can find templates and tools quickly and all in one place. It means people don’t have to spend much time making new forms, when we can just download and modify to meet our needs. Although our information sheet was designed based on a Rapid Ethical Assessment; a process in which we identified the kind of information about the study we should provide to our participants based on their preference, we also adapted templates presented on the site as a guide to the specific requirements of our trial.

There’s a growing argument that clinical research must come from the ground-up. The Global Health Network is an incredible resource for someone’s career – you can read fantastic material and connect with people to grow your professional network, and it’s a platform to share experiences to improve your professional standing and research capacity. I think the Process Map is really important. When working on a trial, we thought it would take two or three months to get approval from regulatory authorities. But, the process took much longer than that. The Process Map will help researchers planning studies understand the various steps and anticipate the timelines involved. Using the Process Map will also help researchers initiate studies; from trial conception and design to approval and site preparation phases. The Process Map is also a democratic tool. Research conducted in developing countries needs to be to the same standards of that conducted in Western countries and everywhere else around the world. I believe the Process Map provides guidance for researchers to standardise the process that they need to consider, and ensures that high-quality research is conducted.

Joby George – Research Nurse, Medanta (India):

I’m a Clinical Research Nurse at Medanta the Medicity hospital in Northern India. I work on critical care and anaesthesia trials, including investigator-initiated observational trials on intensive care patients. I also have a lot of experience in data management, conducting training, event management and working on continuing medical education.

Recently, with the support of the Global Health Network, I conducted the first nurses’ workshop in my hospital. It brought together more than 150 nurses – from all specialities – providing them with a platform for discussion and to share knowledge. It also showed how nurses can get involved with research, whilst working on patient care, to help many patients. Every nurse that attended was given a certificate of participation, and the workshop had a great impact on the nurses.

Following this workshop, I’ve heard from other nursing institutions who want to know if the Global Health Network can run a workshop for them. One nursing school is even interested in the Global Health Network coordinating Continuing Medical Education for their nurses.

I find that I log in to the Global Health Network every day to see what’s happening. It does a great job of bringing people together, and the support team are really helpful. I also use the continuous training a lot – there are so many certification programmes! The big difference is that it’s free to access, unlike some of the university websites which charge for access. Beyond the training, it’s a great network – there are so many events, networking programmes, workshops and conferences. It just keeps on growing.

The Process Map is really interesting, and it’s something I would really use. I really haven’t seen anything like this before. None of the sites I use have taken the initiative to put all of this in one place and get people to share their knowledge.

The initial step in conducting research is in understanding the research process, and this can be quite a barrier to getting people to start doing research. Nurses, who are the pillars of healthcare, often have research questions they want to work on but due to a lack of resources and a high workload they sometimes just want to treat patients and go home. Nurses therefore don’t pursue research.

However, with the help of the Process Map, a nurse or other healthcare professional can get a basic understanding of how to initiate research and can follow the Process Map to conduct a trial. Each research professional needs to understand the research process before conducting research and therefore the Process Map will make sure that research is of high quality. Although people often lack the motivation and support to improve their skills, I hope that researchers use the Process Map, and the Global Health Network, to develop their research expertise and develop themselves professionally.

Dr Oluwagbenga Ogunfowokan - WHO/TDR Clinical R&D Fellow and Consultant Family Physician, National Hospital Abuja (Nigeria):

I’m a family physician, but also undertake research work focusing on tropical diseases – particularly malaria.

The Global Health Network has put me on a global platform. I can connect with people all over the world, and connect them with my work. Everybody in the network gets the same value from using the platform – it’s like every member belongs to the network and everyone finds it useful. It’s accessible and relevant for everyone.

It’s also like a one-stop-shop. Everything you need to conduct research is there, and it saves me time having it all in one place. What makes it so unique though is how user-friendly the Global Health Network is, and the way that all the content has been put together and packaged - and how it’s all free of charge.

I actually found the Global Health Network useful very recently. I was trying to give a lecture on informed consent documentation and needed materials and some detailed information. So I went to the platform and saw all of this information – for example on consenting for those who are able, and community involvement in informed consent – which helped me to develop materials to train other people. I find the Global Health Network really useful for finding this good practice.

I also think the Global Health Network is doing a great job at building the capacity of people – especially those in developing countries. My research team find it really helpful, and are great at keeping up-to-date with what’s happening on the platform. I’ve also been able to organise workshops sponsored by the Global Health Network – including coordinating one recently with 71 researchers. It’s also helped me to develop my reputation within my own institution. For example, successfully delivering that workshop brought me to the forefront of my institution. I think the Process Map is a fantastic research framework. It’s going to be a great research management tool and will definitely help in understanding the research timeline. Personally, for me it will be really beneficial in my research and project management – for example when I’m planning budgets. I haven’t used a similar tool at all before, and I’m really looking forward to using it.

Morenike Ukpong - Associate Professor, Obefemi Awolowo University (Nigeria):

I work on HIV prevention, focusing particularly on those who are most at risk of HIV infection but who are often least addressed by HIV policies and programmes. I also do work on research ethics, community ethics and teach research methodology. I am an Associate Professor at Nigeria’s Obafemi Awolowo University where I train students at undergraduate and postgraduate level on paediatric dentistry.

For me, the Global Health Network is all about interaction – it lets people connect around the world, and across different research interests. It lets people collaborate, and learn from each other. The Global Health Network has also run several training sessions in Nigeria that have been very helpful.

I really like the concept of the Process Map; it shows the complex – yet interactive – nature of developing a clinical trial but in a way that’s simple to navigate. I haven’t seen anything like this before. I’ll be using it as a teaching platform, and also as a networking platform – in my position I’m always interested in finding opportunities for grants and networking to promote my work and the college. The Process Map could be really useful for that. It could serve as an interactive forum for discussions, clarifications, and news and updates.

I’m really looking forward to using it. I started the process of developing an online course on ethics with the Global Health Network, which was an exciting opportunity for me. I’m looking forward to getting involved more. I think the platform can enable discussions that could generate research and papers, leading to the tackling of primary health issues.

Has the network helped you in your work or professional development? Please tell us, and share your story.