The Pan African Thoracic Society – Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research (PATS-MECOR) course. 

PATS-MECOR comprises face to face 1 week courses to provide intensive short training to strengthen skills and build capacity for clinical and epidemiological research in lung health in Africa.  The course has different levels through which students may progress starting at level 1 and ending at level 3.

The course was initiated by Professor Stephen Gordon of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and is based on the successful American Thoracic Society (ATS) MECOR programme. The specific needs identified for the course in Africa were: 

• Insufficient capacity to collect and interpret country/local specific data,

• Insufficient understanding of research appraisal of the literature, and most critically,

• Insufficient numbers of public health, academic, and clinical leaders to support and facilitate research and its application to public health and health care related to respiratory diseases and critical care medicine.

The course is designed for pulmonary clinicians, investigators, and academicians to provide training in research methods. Three workshops run concurrently for a period of one week each year.

Level 1: Measuring the Burden of Disease –  during level 1 training workshops students learn how to develop a study plan, choose the study subjects, plan measurements and prepare and estimate sample size and protocol development. No prior research experience is required for level 1.

Level 2: Advanced Clinical Research Methods - Students learn about study designs, such as, Experimental, Observational cross-section, Observational case-control and how to research data. Students must have attended level 1 to progress to level 2.  

Level 3: Further research skills, grant and paper writing – Students bring details of a draft paper and research question that they would like to work on at Level 3. The training workshops address ethical issues, designing questionnaires, interviews and on-line surveys, as well as, data management, quality control and writing a proposal for funding research. To be accepted on to level 3 students must be able to demonstrate how Level 1 & 2 PATS MECOR courses have advanced their research career.

The first workshop was held in Blantyre, Malawi in 2007 and continued to be delivered there until 2009. From 2010 to 2015 the course was held at Brackenhurst International Conference Centre, Limuru, Kenya where the programme received invaluable support from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). In 2016 the course returned to Malawi and was held at the College of Medicine (CoM), Blantyre supported by staff at the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW). In 2018, the course was held in Durban, South Africa with Dr Kevin Mortimer as the new course director.  In 2019, the course was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

We are pleased to announce that funding was secured from NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Lung Health and Tuberculosis in Africa at LSTM, the MRC GCRF Lung Health in Africa across the life course grant and the Aldama Foundation which has allowed us to run PATS MECOR for the past few years. PATS MECOR is led by PATS through the PATS EXCO.