March 17, 2020

NeuroMex - Recognizing the Importance of Training in Biostatistics and Programing in R

By Dr. Ingrid Pamela Morales Cedillo, MD
National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz INPRFM
Mexico City, Mexico

The Neuropsychiatric Genetics of Psychosis in Mexico Populations (NeuroMex) program is grateful to the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) for the opportunity to receive training from the Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education in Research (GINGER).

Training was carried out with the aim of providing personnel involved in the NeuroMex study with the skills and techniques necessary to actively participate in the research project. It is of utmost importance for the NeuroMex study to promote and support collaborating researchers from the National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz (INPRFM) in Mexico City, and from collaborating study sites in the states of Campeche, León and Queretaro in obtaining the tools and skills to participate in data analysis, and publications as part of this project, and also in the proposal, design and implementation of new research projects.

The training took place in Campeche, Mexico from January 27th to 31st, 2020. Gathered were 30 participants, including clinical staff from the National Institute of Psychiatry, the Dr. Manuel GEA González General Hospital in Mexico City, from the Psychiatric Hospital in Campeche, from the State Center for Mental Health (CESAM) of the state of Queretaro, the Center for Comprehensive Mental Health Care (CAISAME) in León, and laboratory staff from the pharmacogenetics department at the INPRFM.

Dr. Carla Marquez-Luna checking in and overseeing training participants’ working on concepts in Biostatistics and R programming.

Why host an interactive training on Biostatistics and Programming in R?

Personally, I consider that this training will have a huge impact since there is an expectation that the staff who were trained, will be able to reproduce and share the teachings and lessons learned directly within their clinical centers or in their own research projects and thus disseminate knowledge.

In Mexico, we are currently fighting for an increase in programs that address mental health of our population, and this opens up the possibility for new lines of research.

It is sad to see how institutions often have information but do not have the skills to process that information and thus be able to bring it to light and advance in terms of public policies, decrease in social stigma, identify patient needs that finally improve the quality of life of the patients. 

That is why, from my perspective, this type of training is valuable to sow seeds of knowledge, skills, and new strategies to give meaning and relevance to the programs that are carried out in each state of the republic. This is the reason why I feel lucky to be able to collaborate with the organization of this event and above all to be able to enrich myself with the knowledge of the instructors who trained us.

Our trainers Carla Marquez, Alejandro Reyes and Aaron Sonabend guided us from basic concepts to advanced concepts in biostatistics, thus ensuring all attendees achieve a full understanding of the concepts learned. In addition, each concept was applied to challenges that researchers associated with the NeuroMex study and face every day along with essential strategies to apply in the R Software.

Dr. Aaron Sonabend providing instructions and knowledge on Biostatistics concepts and skills to training participants.

As part of this training program, a space was created where all the clinical staff shared their experiences and obstacles faced every day. As part of the participant recruitment process, we shared resolution strategies for each challenge faced. Within this space, we held a debate on topics such as stigma of the general and medical population, as well as topics such as mental health and mental health research. Each of the researchers were also able to share in their own experiences in the field and on strategies to reduce stigma that could be put into practice. This was precisely one of the purposes of the training: to obtain the necessary skills and strategies to analyze the available data, and with this, disseminate and give importance to such vital topics as neuropsychiatric genetics.

It is a great honor for me to work on this project. Every day there is something new to learn and this becomes a seed of knowledge which I feel responsible for spreading and sharing with my colleagues at the Institute and the other study sites, and throughout Mexico, in order to achieve and develop a front of strong young researchers interested in improving mental health in this country.

NeuroMex and GINGER team members gathered in front of a historic Mayan statue in Campeche’s picturesque pier during the training event.

About the author:

Dr. Ingrid Pamela Morales Cedillo is a medical doctor graduated from the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) who also undertook her year of social service in rural Hidalgo. She is a leader and expert at the National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz in Mexico City and spear header and fosterer of people and all things good and great in the NeuroMex study.