International Applicants Sought for Biostatistics Internship in USA

Isaac Singini splits his week diving deeper into data collected from an AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) study that explored the safety and efficacy of initial HIV treatment in a culturally diverse population and attending biostatistics classes at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to support work on this study. Hailing from the Network’s site in Malawi, Singini is one of two participants in the ACTG’s Statistical and Data Analysis Center’s (SDAC) Internship in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

“The opportunity to work with the statisticians here on a sub-study of the PEARLS A5175 protocol and to take necessary classes at Harvard is what attracted me to the internship,” says Singini, MSc, DLSHTM, BSc. “I have worked at the ACTG site in Blantyre, Malawi, for 10 years now and I was the data manager at the site when the PEARLS study was conducted. I like extracting an idea for new analysis using the data that we already collected. I am hoping to take the lessons I have learned here and bring those skills back to Malawi.”

Applicants must work at one of the ACTG’s international sites in HIV/AIDS-related research and should hold an advanced degree in biostatistics, epidemiology or a similar quantitative science. The internship runs for four to six months beginning in January 2014. Applications must include a cover letter explaining current HIV/AIDS research and long-term professional goals; a two-page proposal for an analysis to be conducted during the internship; a curriculum vitae and a letter of support from the principal investigator at the applicant’s site. Applications are due by July 1, 2013.

Click here for more information about the internship and to apply online. Any issues with the submission should be directed to Lisa Patton, Senior Manager, ACTG’s Network Coordinating Center, at

SDAC is based at the Harvard School of Public Health. The ACTG’s Principal Investigator at SDAC is Michael Hughes, PhD. He and his team of 35 statisticians have offices at the HSPH’s Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research (CBAR), where he serves as the Director. CBAR statisticians work on studies from many Harvard-affiliated HIV/AIDS research networks. The ACTG’s SDAC is CBAR’s largest project. Hughes says two statisticians work on each ACTG protocol. The Network conducts research at more than 70 sites globally.

Nearly three years ago the Network’s leadership developed the Internship at SDAC to give statisticians and epidemiologists at the ACTG’s international locations further experience in data analysis and publication of results.

“The Internship at SDAC gives statisticians, epidemiologists and quantitative scientists the opportunity to work on ACTG data, enhancing the development of new statistical skills that benefit HIV research,” says Hughes.

In addition to Singini, Hughes and his team are hosting Sineenart Taejaroenkul, MSc, a statistician from the ACTG’s site in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Taejaroenkul, who has been with the Chang Mai site for seven years, says she was drawn to the internship because she wanted to practice using data collected to address a study’s objective.

“It’s really been great so far,” says Taejaroenkul, who will return to Thailand at the end of June. “I’ve learned how each member of the team plays a role in managing the data that has been collected.”

Last year, Hughes and his team welcomed Kondwani Nkanaunena, a statistician from the ACTG’s site in Blantyre, Malawi, and André Périssé, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist from the ACTG’s site in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Being able to interact with a friend from Malawi was quite interesting and an opportunity to know other sites and another culture better,” says Périssé. “We became good friends and helped each other in our daily activities and classes we decided to attend while in Boston. Also, the support Michael and his team gave to us was really important to help cope with the four-month period away from home and family.”

Périssé says he is using the skills gained in Boston to analyze other datasets in Brazil and that the relationships he built with SDAC staff will be extremely important in working with a team on future grant applications. He also recently submitted the paper he wrote based on the data he analyzed in Boston. Singini and Taejaroenkul will each write papers based on the projects they are working on while at SDAC and also serve as co-author for each other’s studies. Singini says the experience has really caused them to grow as a team.

“The idea is to get research published and I would really recommend this internship for helping give me those skills,” says Singini, who is culling the A5175 data to see what variables predict failure of antiretroviral therapy after HIV viral suppression is achieved. “I will return to Malawi and train my colleagues on what I have learned, from managing data and doing an analysis from scratch to writing and publishing my work.”

More information about the Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research, the Department of Biostatistics, and the Harvard School of Public Health is available at the following links: (CBAR) (Department) (HSPH)

Potential applicants may also contact Hughes at to discuss the program.