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Wellcome support aims to boost Africa’s research capacity

8 Jul 2009

Paul Chinnock

Source: Wellcome Trust (see original article)

Figure 1
Wellcome funded researchers in action.

More than 50 institutions from 18 African countries – from Senegal to Sudan to South Africa – are to participate in international consortia under a $48 million initiative from the Wellcome Trust to strengthen research capacity on the continent. Seven new international and pan-African consortia have been launched under the Trust’s African Institutions Initiative. Each will be led by an African institution.

The Trust already funds major programmes in Kenya, Malawi and South Africa, as well as individual research projects across the continent. However, the new initiative creates consortia focused on building a critical mass of sustainable local research capacity.

“The African continent faces some of the world’s most serious health problems stemming from disease and poverty,”said Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Trust. “If we are to tackle these problems, we need health research on the continent to develop in a vibrant research environment geared to national priorities. It is essential that the best and brightest researchers have access to training opportunities and career pathways in their home countries. There is no use training excellent researchers in Africa unless a first-class environment is also available in which they can develop their careers and pursue their research. Outstanding researchers are also essential in African countries to provide leadership and to educate future generations of African students and scientists.”

Dr Alex Ezeh, Executive Director at the African Population and Health Research Centre in Kenya, is leading the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), one of the consortia to have received funding through the initiative. He believes the initiative will be important to improving research in the region: “Research capacity remains very weak in Africa. Indeed, existing research capacity-strengthening programmes and collaborative partnerships in Africa are largely driven by Northern academic and research institutions. The Wellcome Trust initiative represents a truly innovative mechanism to position African scholars and institutions as leaders in the collaborative efforts to rebuild research capacity in the region. It holds strong promise of creating a new class of highly networked African scholars and institutions with the requisite skills to address the region's health challenges.”

Seven consortia

The Trust has named the seven consortia that have been created:

  • Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA)

  • One Health Initiative, African Research Consortium for Ecosystem and Population Health

  • One Medicine Africa-UK Research Capacity Development Partnership Programme for Infectious Diseases in Southern Africa (SACIDS consortium)

  • Research Institute for Infectious Diseases of Poverty (IIDP)

  • Southern Africa Consortium for Research Excellence (SACORE)

  • Strengthening Research Capacity in Environmental Health (SNOWS)

  • Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa (THRiVE).

Further details are in the Wellcome Trust press release.

London School

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has been chosen to provide support for four of the Wellcome-funded consortia: THRiVe, SACIDS, SACORE, SNOWS. See LSHTM press release.

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