New fellowship program will support the next generation of African scientific leaders

NIH collaborates with African Academy of Sciences and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Michael Otto of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is hosting APTI fellow Dr. Nana Amissah of Ghana, who is studying Staphylococcus aureus. FIC/NIH

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

About the Fogarty International Center: the Center addresses global health challenges through innovative and collaborative research and training programs, and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships. For more information, visit www.fic.nih.gov .

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov .

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