Supporting a community of health researchers across Africa to become research experts capable of tackling African health challenges
Become a friend of AREF
Africa shoulders a disproportionate share of the world’s disease burden. AREF’s mission comes at a time when the spread of diseases shows the major risks to global health when one part of the world does not have the research capacity to detect and respond to outbreaks in a timely way.
Our ambitions are rooted in the conviction that Africa’s health research agenda and priorities should be defined by Africans, in partnership with leading researchers across the world.
How we support African Researchers
We run fellowships and training programmes for early-career African scientists working on important human health challenges in Africa, to access skills development in leading research institutions in Africa, Europe and elsewhere.
We set emerging scientists on the path to research leadership by enabling them to build strong research careers, empower their own teams, win funding and collaborate with researchers internationally. Our leadership programmes are targeted to research leaders seeking to transition to independent research.
Our Grant Writing programmes are designed to produce tangible progress towards grant proposals, suitable for early-career researchers actively seeking funding. We also run a tailored Women in Research Grant Writing programme for women scientists as part of our efforts in bridging the gender gap in science.
Support us to achieve our mission by donating to save lives in Africa
£3M → £10M
We have invested over £3million in 500 researchers across Africa who have gone on to win over £10m from prestigious researcher funders across the world for research projects in Africa
83 African Researchers
83 African researchers benefited from AREF Research Development Fellowships, with placements at 17 research centres of excellence in Africa and Europe
what our researchers say
AREF’s workshops are unique as they bring together the expertise of facilitators who have a history of winning grants with people involved in peer review of research proposals. The facilitators not only show what it takes to write a winning grant, but they also provide a glimpse into the peer-reviewers’ room, revealing what it is specifically that they are looking for.
It is not easy to secure research funding, especially as it’s not always clear what funders are looking for, or how to interpret their criteria. AREF’s workshop helped me to decipher exactly what funders want from an application. Using my research proposal at the time, I was able to get direct feedback from the facilitators, which I used to improve my application.
The most valuable thing I took away was the importance of defining a gap in the knowledge base, thinking carefully about what research questions I wanted to answer, coming up with the design and methods that answered those questions, and then articulating the public health impact of addressing that gap in knowledge.
AREF set me on the path to independence as a funded researcher by providing the time and space needed to cultivate my research ideas in the first place and allowing me to develop these ideas alongside leading scientists at the University of Cape Town. I’ve since been able to transfer most of the techniques I was using in South Africa to my lab in The Gambia, meaning I can continue the work I started there.
I now have the connections and confidence I need to secure my own grants, including a training fellowship from the Wellcome Trust. I’m an independent scientist leading my own research group in Senegal, but I’m also part of a much wider research network collaborating closely with partners across the continent – including institutions in The Gambia, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as further afield, in the UK and France.
The Fellowship definitely opened my eyes to the challenges involved in carrying out a clinical study, for instance with mothers who don’t want to wait around for the tests to take place. Without going through all of this myself, I couldn’t have grasped the practical challenges of collecting this type of data in the first place, then the complex process of shipping the samples to another country.