Merck Foundation Celebrates Excellence at MARS Awards 2023: Honoring African Women and Young Researchers in STEM

In a remarkable celebration of scientific excellence, Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany, recently hosted the Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2023. The prestigious event, held in collaboration with key partners, including the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS), Manipal University, and the African Union Scientific Technical Research Commission, spotlighted the exceptional accomplishments of six researchers from different African countries.

The MARS Awards ceremony, graced by key dignitaries, including African Ministers of Health, Technology, Information & Technology, Social Affairs, Women's Rights & Gender, and Community Development and Social Welfare, showcased the winners in two distinguished categories – 'Best African Women Researchers' and 'Best African Young Researchers.'

Senator, Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit - MARS, expressed immense pride in the 2023 winners. These annual awards, a tradition since 2016, are designed to empower women and youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) across Africa, with a specific focus this year on the critical role of scientific research in women's health and reproductive & fertility care.

The deserving winners, chosen for their significant research contributions, will undergo comprehensive research training at a premier institute in India. Notably, Ms. Stella Irungu from Kenya, one of the awardees, seized a unique opportunity to attend the 4-day International Federation of Fertility Societies – The IFFS World Congress 2023 in Athens, Greece.

Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of ARCS and Secretary-General of IFFS, extended heartfelt congratulations to the recipients, underscoring the platform's significant value for African women and young researchers committed to health research.

The 'Best African Women Researchers' category recognized Stella Irungu (Kenya), Motshedisi Sebitloane (South Africa), and Oyeyemi Ifeoluwa (Nigeria) for their outstanding contributions. Simultaneously, the 'Best African Young Researchers' category celebrated Afework Tadele Mekonnen (Ethiopia), Stephene Shadrack Meena (Tanzania), and Theogene Uwizeyimana (Rwanda).

Looking ahead, the MARS Awards 2024 edition was announced during the ceremony, maintaining its focus on empowering women and youth in STEM, with a special emphasis on 'The Role of Scientific Research in Women's Health and Reproductive & Fertility Care.' Merck Foundation reaffirmed its commitment to transforming patient care and providing scholarships for doctors in critical medical specialities across Africa and Asia.

For those aspiring to contribute to the field of scientific research and make a lasting impact, applications for the MARS Awards 2024 are now open. Apply at

Article by RB Correspodent