African scientists to build research capacity in African countries, develop ongoing scientific partnerships

Ten African scientists have been selected for training at the National Institutes of Health as part of a new fellowship program to build research capacity in African countries and develop ongoing scientific partnerships. NIH, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are collaborating to establish the African Postdoctoral Training Initiative.

The inaugural cohort will assume their positions in NIH host labs in early 2019. NIH will provide two years of training under principal investigators who share the fellows' research interests. The African scientists will then return to their home institutions and receive two years of support to continue the research and establish themselves as independent investigators. NIH and the Gates Foundation are together providing about $4 million for the program.

"Our goal is to equip these talented African fellows with the skills to become scientific leaders, prepared to help solve their country's health challenges and train future generations of researchers," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., whose intramural research lab will host one of the fellows. "By designing the African Postdoctoral Training Initiative to begin at NIH and then continue at their home institution, we aim to prevent 'brain drain,' build sustainable research capacity, and establish long-term collaborations between U.S. scientists and African investigators and research institutions."

"It is imperative to strengthen African scientific leadership to advance health and development goals on the continent. We are thrilled to partner with NIH and the African Academy of Sciences to support these 10 outstanding researchers working to solve the world's greatest health challenges," said Trevor Mundel, president of the Global Health Division at the Gates Foundation. "To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the world needs to accelerate innovation and global scientific collaboration. Training from NIH, one of the world's foremost biomedical research institutions, will help these scientists develop the transformational solutions the world and their communities urgently need."

The fellows come from six African countries: Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Egypt. They've been matched with labs from seven institutes at NIH and will study diseases and conditions that are research priorities in their respective countries, including infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and diabetes.

The fellowship program targets early career scientists who have doctoral degrees and less than five years of research experience. Candidates must also be citizens of an African country and employed at one of the continent's academic, research or government institutions. NIH's Fogarty International Center is coordinating the fellowship program. The African Academy of Sciences managed the recruitment and selection process, and plans to recruit another cohort in 2020.

2019 African Postdoctoral Training Initiative Fellows and NIH Hosts

  • Fellow: Dr. Idowu Aimola
    Home institution: Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
    Host institution: National Human Genome Research Institute
    Research area: diabetes, maternal and child health
  • Fellow: Dr. Nana Ama Amissah
    Home institution: Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana
    Host institution: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Research area: infectious diseases
  • Fellow: Dr. Thomas Hormenu
    Home institution: University of Cape Coast, Ghana
    Host institution: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
    Research area: diabetes
  • Fellow: Dr. Musa Kana
    Home institution: Federal University Lafia, Nigeria
    Host institution: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
    Research area: tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, child health
  • Fellow: Dr. Rania Labib
    Home institution: Children's Cancer Hospital, Egypt
    Host institution: National Cancer Institute
    Research area: child health
  • Fellow: Dr. Hamma Maiga
    Home institution : Institut National de Recherche en Santé Publique, Mali
    Host institution: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Research area: malaria, maternal and child health
  • Fellow: Dr. Bartholomew Ondigo
    Home institution: Egerton University, Kenya
    Host institution: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Research area: malaria
  • Fellow: Dr. Kolapo Oyebola
    Home institution: University of Lagos, Nigeria
    Host institution: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
    Research area: sickle cell disease
  • Fellow: Dr. Irene Offei Owusu
    Home institution: Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana
    Host institution: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Research area: infectious diseases, viruses
  • Fellow: Dr. Markos Tesfaye Woldeyohannes
    Home institution: St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College, Ethiopia
    Host institution: National Institute of Nursing Research
    Research area: child health
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