Program Structure

Boston University Medical Campus and Massachusetts General Hospital (BUMC-MGH) Global Psychiatry Clinical Research Training Program


Psychiatric and neurological disorders are dominant contributors to the global burden of disability and mortality, linked to substantial social and economic costs, and associated with worse general health and chronic disease outcomes. The current dearth of mental health research in low to middle-income countries, and the limited human capacity to conduct rigorous, culturally-appropriate, clinically relevant studies in these areas with the highest needs, hinders the development of evidence-based policy and practice, and stunts the advancement of effective service delivery.

As communicable diseases are supplanted by non-communicable, chronic, and neurological and psychiatric diseases, the academic medicine workforce must be realigned with the emerging health priorities of the new century. The BUMC-MGH Global Psychiatry Clinical Research Training Program will prepare a cadre of researchers committed to working collaboratively across disciplines and cultures to address priority global mental health challenges through a well-defined clinical career path, rigorous training in clinical research methods, cross-cultural and public mental health competencies, and significant global mental health research experience in resource-constrained areas, conflict-affected settings and countries ravaged by poverty. 

Program Directors

  • David C. Henderson, MD – Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Assistant Dean, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine; Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Division of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center.
  • Conall O’Cleirigh, PhD – Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School; Director, Behavioral Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital; Co- Director, Behavioral and Social Science Core, Harvard University Center for AIDS Research.

Associate Directors

  • Sarah E. Valentine, PhD – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine; Director, Program for Research in Implementation Science, Minority Stress, and Mental Health (PRISMM) and Director, Recovery from Stress and Trauma through Outpatient care, Research, and Education Center (“The RESTORE Center”), Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center.
  • Christina Psaros, PhD – Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Associate Director, Behavioral Medicine Program, Department of Psychiatry and Core Faculty of the Qualitative Research Unit, Division of Clinical Research, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Fellowship Goals

  1. Attract new candidate psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and public health scientists committed to developing the critical clinical research skills to work effectively across scientific disciplines and political and cultural boundaries;
  2. Combine scientific mentorship, rigorous didactic training, financial support, supportive institutional environments (domestic and international), and challenging research questions for fellows to begin productive independent research careers in global mental health;
  3. Train fellows as advocates to help push for a more equitable redistribution of global resources for mental health research and services; and
  4. Provide the opportunity for trainees to progress smoothly from their postdoctoral training to NIH career development awards and junior faculty positions.

Project Sites

  • Boston University Medical Campus (Boston, MA)
  • Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA)
  • Addis Ababa University (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
  • Barbados Nutrition Study Research Centre (St. Michael, Barbados)
  • Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (Lima, Peru)
  • University of Cape Town (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa)
  • Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
  • Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Mbarara, Uganda)
  • National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Core Curriculum

Didactics, coursework at BUSPH or Harvard, and mentored research projects position postdoctoral graduates of the T32 fellowship to become productive leaders in the field of global mental health and create an established collaborative research base to conduct further studies. Through a learning-by-doing approach, graduates of the fellowship are able to: 1) conceptualize and evaluate mental health systems, policies and plans, and develop research questions that are clinically and culturally relevant to the identified community and public health needs; 2) build productive international collaborations with governments, NGOs and academics abroad; 3) develop and manage an international research team; and 4) create and manage an international project of realistic scope, including mapping a timeline for conducting an international study and selecting appropriate methodologies.

The program includes study in seven thematic cores in which fellows may focus their research training: addictions, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, PTSD/trauma/complex emergency, HIV mental health, women’s mental health, and childhood mental disorders. The program also offers a research methods core including clinical trials, qualitative/quantitative research, and translational/ implementation science. These thematic cores leverage the strengths of the faculty, the breadth of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the interest of potential trainees, the available research and training opportunities at the international sites, the needs of the populations in the training environments, and the general demands of the field.

Mentored Research Experience

To gain the skills and confidence to perform independent research, fellows conduct an independent, mentored research project tailored to their unique career goals at one of the sites. Fellows also work on secondary analysis using existing datasets identified by international faculty mentors to develop analytical/research skills and meet authorship goals of the program.

Each international site possesses a strong research portfolio that aligns with the thematic areas of the training program and compliments the expertise of the domestic faculty at BUMC, MGH/Harvard, and VABHS. Each site also has an established research infrastructure for protocol development, IRB approval and data collection, and a proven track record of study completion. In addition to the history of scientific and training collaborations amongst the departments and the available resources of the institutions, the research activities of the participating faculty enable trainees to rapidly immerse themselves in projects locally and globally at the interface of the thematic cores and methodological areas.

Key Components

Based on the potential applicant pool, the strengths of the faculty, and the research needs of the field, we have structured the program to include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, or PhD candidates from an accredited school of public health, depending on the quality of applicants. Key components of the program include:

  • Fellows will identify a primary mentor and a broad area of focus prior to starting the program. Once they are in the program, each fellow will be mentored by an identified international mentor, and will have access to ongoing faculty research in the U.S. and at the international sites.
  • Trained physicians without PhD-level research training are encouraged to complete the Program in Clinical Effectiveness (PCE) at HSPH or equivalent courses at BUSPH in year 1 of the fellowship.
  • Fellows are required to conduct an international research project at one of the training sites where they generate a proposal, obtain IRB approval, and collect data. Fellows also generate a research proposal with their mentors within the first 18 months of starting their fellowship.
  • Through the assistance of site-specific faculty mentors, fellows will identify existing datasets from the international sites that align with their research interests. They will work on secondary data analysis projects both to develop analytical and research skills and to meet authorship goals of the program.
  • Fellows are required to attend BUMC/MGH Global Psychiatry didactics, a weekly 90-minute interactive seminar led by program faculty, leaders in the field of global psychiatry, and T32 alumni. Weekly didactics cover a core global curriculum that spans the duration of the program.
  • Fellows participate in a monthly Research-in-Progress seminar with mentoring faculty. They are expected to provide periodic, in-depth updates on the status of their research projects and to provide critical feedback to their peers during regularly-scheduled working meetings.
  • Fellows are required to submit a NIH or equivalent K award application by the end of year 2 or earlier in the program once they have obtained adequate data and publications to be competitive for submission. While a successful grant award is not required during the fellowship, fellows are well positioned to resubmit their application during or shortly after the training program.
  • Fellows may spend up to a half-day per week in clinical rotations to continue seeing patients, focusing on their area of interest when possible, at the BMC or MGH sites, both of which serve immigrant communities.
  • Fellows are strongly encouraged to present their completed work at appropriate national meetings such as the APA, Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), World Psychiatric Association (WPA), and World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) to encounter true extramural peer review.
  • An annual conference held at the international sites on a rotational basis, coinciding with the advisory committee evaluation meeting (funding permitted). This exposes new fellows to faculty and prior trainee research, develops a training community environment amongst the sites, helps identify areas of common interest, and fosters cross-country, collaborative research opportunities amongst partnering institutions.

 Representative research areas and program faculty available to fellows include: