Groundbreaking Partnership Between AREF and Roche Paves the Way for African Scientists to Shine

In a monumental move to bolster Africa's scientific prowess and address the glaring research and development disparity on the continent, the Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) has teamed up with Roche, the multinational healthcare behemoth, to introduce the AREF-Roche and Genentech Fellowship Program. This pioneering initiative is designed to foster the next generation of African scientists and propel them into leadership roles in the fields of clinical pharmacology, pathology, and human genetics.

The AREF-Roche and Genentech Fellowship Program is set to empower three promising African researchers who have shown exceptional promise in these vital domains. Over nine months, these selected fellows will embark on an immersive journey, gaining access to the world-renowned laboratories of Genentech and Roche. This unique opportunity will enable them to refine their research ideas, leverage global mentorship networks, and enhance their capacity to tackle pressing health challenges in Africa.

Africa's research and development (R&D) landscape has long suffered from a lack of investment, accounting for a mere 1.3% of global R&D spending. Furthermore, only 2.5% of clinical trials are conducted on the continent. The AREF-Roche and Genentech Fellowship Program aims to address this glaring disparity by equipping emerging African scientists with the tools and expertise to assume pivotal roles in health research. This initiative is critical for reducing the disproportionate disease burden that Africa bears.

Professor Sir Tumani Corrah, the visionary Founder and President of AREF, underscores the significance of African scientists leading the charge in tailoring research to address the unique health needs of the continent. AREF has an illustrious track record of nurturing and mentoring researchers across Africa, enabling them to tackle both local and global health challenges head-on.

Roche, with its extensive experience spanning over 25 years of conducting clinical trials in Africa, reaffirms its unwavering commitment to advancing African science. The AREF-Roche and Genentech Fellowship Program aligns seamlessly to build research capacity as defined by African researchers and institutions. This groundbreaking initiative will arm a new generation of African scientists with the knowledge and expertise needed to lead in genomics, clinical pharmacology, and pathology science and innovation on the continent.

Applications for the AREF-Roche and Genentech Fellowship Program are poised to launch in November, with the program officially commencing in July 2024. The nine-month fellowship culminates in a golden opportunity for the exceptional fellows to secure seed funding, enabling them to further their research leadership and make substantial contributions to addressing critical health challenges in Africa. This marks a significant leap forward in the endeavour to bolster Africa's scientific landscape and harness the full potential of the continent's brightest minds.

Article by Jed Mwangi