Introducing the Capacity Research Unit (CRU): Strengthening Health Research Capacity around the World

Professor Imelda Bates is the Head of the Capacity Research Unit (CRU), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the focus for an emerging international network with expertise in the evaluation of research capacity development. In this video, Professor Bates talks about the CRU’s work in health research capacity development in low and middle income countries (LMICs), particularly in Africa. According to Professor Bates, there has been accelerated interest in capacity strengthening or capacity building in the last few years but the evidence on how to do it effectively is very scarce. The CRU was created with a view to taking a more rigorous approach to capacity strengthening – from planning it, to implementing it, to measuring its impact. In health research, capacity development is important because it allows institutions and individuals to become more autonomous in research, to become leaders in the field, to choose and work with partners effectively, to apply for grants, and to produce high quality research.

The CRU is somewhat unique in its approach because it believes that in order to tackle complex capacity building interventions in health, a big pool of multiple disciplines needs to be tapped. For example, some of the CRU interventions may involve social scientists, laboratory systems experts, educational developers, health systems experts, etc. The CRU works closely with the University of Toronto and Manchester Business School on some of the theoretical aspects of capacity strengthening. Most of the work on capacity strengthening is done in partnership with LMICs, where local individuals and institutions are invited to participate in the process from the very beginning. Professor Bates concludes her talk with a call for further research into this under-researched but vital topic.

To learn more about the CRU’s work, click here to watch the HEART Talk, Successful Capacity Strengthening: Three Case Studies by the Capacity Resource Unit (CRU).

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