Clinical research is essential to develop effective, evidence-based interventions to the unique cancer care challenges that occur in Africa. However, African countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa, are significantly underrepresented in research for numerous reasons including a lack of clinical research exposure during medical training.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) and the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Zambia (CDH) have an academic partnership and jointly identified a structured clinical research curriculum as a need for Zambian clinical oncology trainees. While initially planned to be an intensive, weeklong in-person workshop, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the development of a fully virtual clinical research training program, known as the MD Anderson and Zambia Virtual Clinical Research Training Program (MOZART) that included weekly virtual lectures and longitudinal mentorship of Zambian trainee-led research protocols by CDH faculty, MDACC faculty, and an MDACC peer (resident/fellow) mentor.

Through the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Derek-Harwood Nash International Education Scholar Grant and an MD Anderson Department of Radiation Oncology Strategic Initiatives (ROSI) Seed Award, MOZART was further developed to be hosted on an online platform, include additional lectures on high-yield topics such as biostatistics, literature search, and data management, have virtual statistical office hours with professional biostatisticians, as well as self-assessment questions and a home-grown handbook of statistical methods in clinical research.

Through our experience, we have found that a virtual format allows for greater engagement by content experts in lectures, longitudinal relationship-building and mentorship over the year, use of international peer mentorship to substantially increase capacity for research mentorship, and decreased costs and barriers associated with travel and program implementation. In order to further our vision of increased clinical research capacity especially within Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in LMICs broadly, we are sharing resources from MOZART that can be used to implement and scale-up similar efforts globally.