By Maina Simon
Ten outstanding early career scientists from nine African countries have been awarded four-year fellowships that will build their capacity to conduct cutting-edge research in global health.
They include Alphonsus Ugwu (Nigeria), Amadou Niangaly (Mali), Carine Kunsevi Kilola (South Africa), Daniel Amoako-Sakyi (Ghana), Diana Marangu (Kenya), Kaelo Seatla (Botswana), Lobe Maloba (Cameroon), Rita Boateng (Ghana), Vinie Kouamou (Zimbabwe) and Yaovi Hounmanou (Benin).
The fellowships will be awarded through the African Postdoctoral Training Initiative (APTI) programme, which is implemented by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in partnership with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The APTI programme was established in 2019 to strengthen research capacity in African countries and develop ongoing scientific partnerships. APTI Fellows are trained and supported to become scientific leaders who can advocate for increased research and innovation projects in Africa.
This is done through four-year postdoctoral fellowships where APTI Fellows join various laboratories of the NIH Institutes or Centers for two years before returning to their home institutions in Africa for another two years of program support. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s support to the postdoctoral fellows includes seed funding for their research upon their return to their home institution.
Dr Peggy Oti-Boateng, AAS Executive Director, says “Investing in early-career scientists is a vital ingredient in the transformation of Africa into a knowledge-based and technology-led continent. The AAS is committed to facilitating research and innovation exchanges to enhance African research leadership to transform lives in the continent and deliver the “Africa We Want”.”
This third cohort of the APTI Fellows (APTI 3) – five women and five men – will assume their positions in NIH host labs in October 2023. Their research activities shall focus on specific global health research priority areas including human immunobiology, microbiome research, drug discovery, genomics, HIV, malaria, and maternal, neonatal and child health.
“This joint effort brings outstanding early-career African researchers to NIH and strengthens our research partnerships and research capacity in Africa over the long run,” said Dr Peter Kilmarx, acting director of the Fogarty International Center and acting associate director for International Research at NIH. “We’re thrilled to welcome these 10 new exceptional scientists with diverse research interests.