MECOR Program

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The ATS MECOR Latin America Program

In collaboration with the Asociacion Latinamericana del Thorax

5 - 10 November 2012

Pelotas, Brazil

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Introduction
The ATS MECOR Program in Latin America began in 1994.  The program was designed to help clinicians develop better skills in research methodology.  The ATS MEOCR Program is conducted as a series of one week intensive courses or “levels”.  In 2007 the Asociacion Latinamericana del Thorax joined the American Thoracic Society to provide the MECOR program in Latin America.  Over 800 physicians have completed one or more levels in the ATS MECOR Program since 1994.

The ATS MECOR Program model is based upon the concept that all clinicians can benefit from basic training in clinical research methods, regardless of their ultimate career choices. The first two levels are recommended for all clinicians. The more advanced courses are intended for physicians who are interested in doing research, and for physicians who are in an academic setting. The courses are conducted by ATS faculty from North America and South America.  The courses have had lasting impact as course graduates have gained specialized knowledge not readily available locally, have translated their knowledge into local research studies which has resulted in presentations at major international meetings and publications in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals.  In addition course graduates have gained valuable colleagues and friends within the larger ATS scientific community as they participate in the ongoing mentoring program within the ATS MECOR program.

The ultimate goal of the ATS MECOR Program is to improve global lung health through the development of local and regional research capacity.  This, in turn, will provide the capacity for collaboration in clinical and epidemiologic projects and a cadre of trained physicians and scientists.  With this in mind, the content of the ATS MECOR Program has been carefully chosen to emphasize local and regional problems that are of public health importance.

Level 1: Introduction to Clinical Research
This level is appropriate for clinicians and academicians who are engaged in the clinical practice of respiratory and sleep medicine, public health, allergy and critical care and wish to improve their skills in clinical research and investigation. No prior experience with research is needed. The textbooks used are Epidemiology by Leon Gordis (2nd Edition, Saunders) and Research Methods for Promotion of Lung Health, published by the Union (previously the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease).

Level 2: Advanced Clinical Research Methods
This level is a continuation of the Level 1 Course and focuses on clinical epidemiology and advanced clinical research methods. Level 2 is recommended for anyone interested in advancing their skills in clinical research. It is also appropriate for individuals who wish to improve their skills in reading the literature and research design. A prerequisite is MECOR Level 1 or equivalent in experience in basic research methods. The textbook used is Designing Clinical Research by Stephen Hulley (3rd Edition, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins).

Level 3: Advanced Clinical Research Methods
This level is designed for the individual who would like to do clinical research and/or pursue an academic career and who is in the process of considering or planning a particular research study and would like to work on this with faculty consultation. A prerequisite is the MECOR Level 2 or equivalent experience. The majority of course time is devoted to individual work with faculty consultation and a beginning, mid-course, and final presentation of a study protocol to faculty and students for discussion and suggestions. Lecture time is minimal and reserved for topics (e.g., sample size/power estimation, data analysis planning) relevant to specific studies on which students are working. 

Level 4: Advanced Clinical Research Methods
This level is for the individual for who has collected research data and is ready to analyze their data or write up their results for publication.  Students are expected to work largely independently, though faculty can assist with analysis and interpretation of data and with manuscript preparation.  Students whose focus is on improving their skills in analyzing data are expected to bring their own data with them to the course and have their own statistical software on their laptops and be familiar with using this software.  For those who would like to improve their skills in analyzing data but do not have their own data, a data set can be provided. A perquisite is MECOR Level 3 or equivalent experience.

(Note: Applicants to Level 4 must submit an outline of the manuscript/analysis they wish to work on, including a brief introduction, a statement of the primary hypothesis or question, a 1-2 paragraph summary of the study design and methods, and a brief description of the main findings or planned analyses. If a draft manuscript is available, that is preferred and should be included. The faculty have found that the week is much more productive if a draft is prepared prior to arrival. If students are planning to focus on data analysis, please provide an overview of the project and a copy of the study protocol if it is available. In general, the faculty will need to have a good idea of what each student proposes to work on during the course, so that faculty can be assigned appropriately.  No students can be accepted without the above work products.)

Asociación Latinoamericana del Tórax (ALAT)

ATS MECOR Program Director:  A. Sonia Buist, M.D.
MECOR Latín America Program Director:  Ana Maria Menezes, M.D.
MECOR Latín America Program Local Organizer:  Ivan Cherrez, M.D.

Staff Director:  Fran Du Melle      fdumelle@thoracic.org