By Whitney Akinyi

To propel the next generation of scientists into positions of leadership in clinical pharmacology, pathology, and human genetics, Roche, working in partnership with the Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) and Genentech has launched a  fellowship Program for African health researchers.

The fellowship program will offer selected candidates an exceptional nine-month immersive experience in world-leading laboratories, coupled with extensive training and mentoring, ultimately equipping them to confront the prevailing health challenges that the continent faces.

Africa’s scientific research endeavors have long grappled with underfunding, receiving just 1.3% of the global R&D spend. Moreover, only 2.5% of clinical trials are conducted on the continent. The AREF-Roche and Genentech Fellowship Program represents a monumental leap forward in rectifying these disparities and propelling Africa to the forefront of global health research.

Professor Sir Tumani Corrah, Founder and President of AREF, has emphasized the program’s significance. “African scientists should be at the forefront of producing research that addresses Africa’s unique health needs. That’s why AREF is committed to nurturing and supporting emerging health researchers with fellowship placements at globally reputable research centers, to acquire advanced research skills, develop mentorship relations, and collaborate with an international network of scientists,” stated the professor.

AREF, established in 2015, has a proven track record of investing in the growth of a community of researchers across Africa. With a history of nurturing, mentoring, and supporting over 600 researchers from 41 African countries, AREF has been instrumental in fostering expertise and leadership capable of addressing health challenges both in Africa and around the world.

Roche, with a rich history of conducting clinical trials in Africa spanning over 25 years, is committed to supporting the development of a robust scientific ecosystem on the continent.

Maturin Tchoumi, Area Head, Africa, Roche, underlined the program’s significance, stating, “This fellowship will contribute to the need for capacity building, as defined by African researchers and their institutions, and help equip a new generation of African scientists leading genomics, clinical pharmacology, and pathology science and innovation on the continent.”

The AREF-Roche and Genentech Fellowship Program is set to launch applications in November, with the fellowship officially commencing in July 2024.