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Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) is a USAID-sponsored program implemented by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (hereafter referred to as the National Academies). Since its inception in 2011, PEER has supported more than 250 research projects on multiple topics led by developing country investigators in USAID priority countries. The umbrella program is designed to support research capacity building and partnerships between developing country investigators and U.S. researchers. Nine U.S. federal governmental science agencies currently participate in PEER, including the National Institutes of Health, which serves as a founding partner. More information can be found online at the PEER program website.

In September 2016, the U.S. Congress authorized funds designated to the PEER program to increase Liberia’s clinical research capacity and support training of Liberian specialty and subspecialty physicians, particularly those charged with addressing the health care needs of Ebola survivors. The goal of PEER/Liberia is to improve clinical care for survivors and the broader population by supporting the development of graduate and post-graduate medical training programs at A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine (AMD) and the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS). In alignment with the Liberia Health Workforce Program Strategy to improve the quality of training programs and recruit qualified educators to deliver high-caliber training and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2017) report Integrating Clinical Research into Epidemic Response: The Ebola Experience, the PEER/Liberia program has three primary objectives:
  1. Strengthen medical training and build subspecialty medical capacity in Liberia;
  2. Improve the ability of Liberia to conduct clinical research; and,
  3. Increase access to specialty care for Ebola survivors and the broader population.
In addition to funds for LCPS and AMD, PEER funds have been specifically set aside for U.S. medical schools and universities to partner with LCPS and AMD. The role of the partnering U.S. institutions is to help ensure sustainability of the medical school and post-graduate medical training programs through long-term partnership, improved curriculum, staff exchange, clinical research, and mentorship. It is anticipated that training programs will produce young faculty with the clinical, professional, research, and teaching skills to take leadership positions within the medical school, potentially in a new department of Clinical Research and Post-graduate medical education that will both strengthen the medical school, residency, and fellowship programs. It is expected that relationships between supported U.S. and Liberian partners would continue beyond the lifetime of the award.

Inherent to the PEER/Liberia objectives is the expectation that funds will help support AMD and LCPS to develop accredited, sustainable, and strong medical training programs. In this regard, we are looking for U.S. partnership proposals that go beyond traditional training and exchange models to truly build human and institutional capacity. For additional reference, we encourage U.S applicants to review: USAID Human and Institutional Capacity Handbook.

Under the PEER/Liberia program, the National Academies will make subawards to LCPS, AMD, and selected U.S partner(s). Sub-awardees will be responsible for implementing and delivering on proposed activities within the approved budget. The National Academies will be responsible for administrative management of the PEER/Liberia program.

To help achieve Objective 2, PEER/Liberia will leverage ongoing work with the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL) program, a NIH funded Liberia-US Joint Clinical Research Program. Additional information on PREVAIL can be found as a Supplement to this RFA. Supported activities should also complement the USAID Ebola Transmission Prevention & Survivor Services (ETP&SS) programming already approved and currently implemented by John Snow, Inc. (JSI). More information on the ETP&SS program, ‘Advancing Partners and Communities’ can be found here. Additionally, activities supported by the PEER/Liberia program are expected to be fully coordinated with other relevant donor efforts in the country targeting strengthening the medical school and post graduate medical education. Other donor efforts may include,but not limited to, the World Health Organization, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the World Bank.