Location: Fajara, the Gambia
Supervisor: Professor Umberto Dalessandro
Grade: 2- 35 Points.
The post-holder will be based at the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM
Established in 1947, the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has an international reputation for ground-breaking research into some of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the tropics. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world. Each year, smoking kills an estimated 5.1 million people, and a further 600,000 deaths are caused by exposure to second-hand smoke. By 2030 smoking will be causing more than 8 million deaths each year, more than 80% of which will occur in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Already, the global annual total of deaths caused by tobacco exceeds those from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. There is however an implementation gap with respect to tobacco control policies and programmes, particularly in LMICs. One of the factors directly contributing to this implementation gap is the severe shortage of policy-relevant research for effective tobacco control measures in LMICs.
The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at LSHTM will build research capacity to conduct applied research to inform policy and practice and to provide scientific support to contribute to addressing the tobacco epidemic in The Gambia as part of the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP). The TCCP is funded by Research Councils UK as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund. The TCCP is led by Professor Linda Bauld from the University of Stirling and involves academics in six UK Universities and eight research organisations in Africa and South Asia, including the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM.
The TCCP will focus on research and training, and the development of partnerships between The Gambia, UK and LMIC research teams and a network of other relevant organizations. Second, research will be conducted to advance development priorities by addressing broad gaps in the tobacco control knowledge base in The Gambia including: the prevalence and patterns of tobacco use; informing the implementation of effective measures across tobacco taxation; preventing illicit trade; understanding and combating tobacco industry interference; as well as evaluating effective smoking cessation interventions. The research capacity developed will also be used to inform wider efforts to address non-communicable diseases by enabling researchers to develop generic skills that apply to other commercially-driven causes of disease epidemics, such as alcohol, processed foods and physical inactivity, and can help apply lessons from tobacco control to research and policy in these areas.
This postdoctoral post will support the work of the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia, which will involve a range of potential projects including tobacco use surveillance. The successful candidate will have a degree in a broadly relevant area of research, a PhD or equivalent qualification in a subject related to public health and/or tobacco control, evidence of productivity in generating peer-review publications, and the necessary numerical and investigative skills required for the above work. Applicants who are about to complete their PhD will also be considered. They must be committed to working on tobacco control and to further develop skills and knowledge of research methods and techniques relevant to this area.
Purpose of the Job
- To work with the Principal Investigator (PI) and international study team to carry out studies to quantify the prevalence of tobacco use, the effects of tobacco control policies, and partly assume responsibilities of the PI.
- To be the focal point for communication with the lead UK academic institution and the wider study team.
- To establish research plans and study protocols.
- To oversee the daily conduct of studies including study data collection, analysis and reporting.
- To develop peer-reviewed publications in collaboration with UK academics and other TCCP team members
- To develop grant applications (e.g. Fellowship or project/programme grant applications) for longer-term funding, to sustain and develop the role.
The post-holder will:
- Establish appropriate procedures required for the effective running of studies such as research plans/ protocols, study specific procedures, study questionnaires and other relevant source documents.
- To engage with relevant stakeholders from government, NGOs, health, welfare and education professionals, WHO offices and the public, and involve them in shaping individual studies to be conducted within the programme and maintain contact throughout.
- To arrange and facilitate stakeholder workshops in The Gambia as required according to the TCCP and research plans.
- Know, understand and follow study protocols always.
- Ensure that study objectives and methods are explained adequately to other relevant study team members.
- Supervise and monitor studies daily to ensure that collection of data is done accurately and to high quality standards according to protocol and in a timely fashion.
- Ensure that studies are conducted strictly according to GCP guidelines with respect to quality and ethics including confidentiality.
- Review all source data before entry into dedicated databases and follow-up queries.
- To conduct study data analysis.
- To contribute to the production of research reports and publications
- Engage with training opportunities in The Gambia, the UK and South Africa
- Lead and contribute to the development of grant applications
- Coordinate interlocking studies that might arise.
- Undertake all work strictly following the safety guidelines as laid down in the MRC’s Safety Manual.
- To communicate information and ideas to students and advise and assist other staff/students with in area of expertise.
- The post-holder will be a full-time member of the MRCG at LSHTM staff.
- The post-holder will report to Professor Umberto D’Alessandro.
- The Theme Leader for Disease Control and Elimination is Professor Umberto D’Alessandro.
- The Unit Director is Professor Umberto D’Alessandro.
- The Director of Operations is Mr Joan Vives Tomas.
- Appraisals are held at least annually.
Length of appointment:
- The appointment is up to 31st December 2021 and will be subject to a probationary period of 6 months, which is the end of the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme.
Any other duties:
- To perform any other duties consistent with the remit of the post.
Education and Training - minimum requirement:
- Essential: Degree and PhD or equivalent in Public Health, Health Policy or other relevant subject area.
- Desirable: Master’s Degree, or equivalent in relevant subject area.
Experience & job related knowledge:
- Proven track record of completion of research work, from undergraduate degree and /or related work experience
- Evidence of experience of research methods and techniques to work in research area.
- Commitment to further develop skills and knowledge of research methods and techniques
- Ability to work independently at own initiative
- Ability to build relationships and collaborate with others, internally and externally.
- Practical experience of, and/or a commitment to health research in developing countries, specifically The Gambia
- Excellent written and spoken English
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Proven track record of publication in peer-review journals
- Previous experience of work in tobacco control related research, tobacco policy and/or cessation therapy
- Ability to work with large data sets
- Experience in using statistical packages such as STATA, SAS or SPSS.
- Excellent IT skills (Microsoft Word, Excel, Access)
Abilities & Aptitudes:
- Commitment to working in a multi-disciplinary team
- Excellent interpersonal and verbal/written communication skills
- A flexible and well-organized approach to work and an ability to meet deadlines
- Attention to detail
- Excellent organizational skills
- A team player and motivator
- An attractive salary will be paid in MRCG at LSHTM’s Grade 2, 35 Points at a minimum take home pay of 81, 027 Dalasi per month. This is equivalent to $1,653 per month using the prevailing USD/Dalasi exchange rate. Please note the salary will be paid in Dalasi and the USD/Dalasi exchange rate is only given as a guide using the prevailing exchange rate.
- For displaced staff the package will include, rent-free furnished accommodation, flights, displacement allowances for dependents, contribution to school fees for children and shipment of personal effects.