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Announcing our latest Research Development Fellows

Researcher at work

We are delighted to announce our latest 18 outstanding Research Development Fellowship awardees. These emerging scientists who come from eight different countries across Africa, were selected out of a competitive total of over 80 applications received in 2022.

Our new fellows will be undertaking placements at leading research organisations in 10 different countries in Europe and Africa. Our Research Development Fellowships enable talented early-career African researchers to acquire advanced research skills, prepare research questions for further research, foster relationships with highly recognised leading experts for mentoring and potential collaborations post-fellowship. Read more about our fellowship scheme on our website.

Our latest cohort of fellows, joining the 65 fellows we have previously supported, have a wide variety of research interests, from cancer in African populations, to zoonotic diseases, maternal health, antimicrobial resistance, biotechnology, and emerging infectious diseases. For full profiles of each fellow see here.

Leveraging  technology to tackle infectious diseases

Dr Vesla Kullaya from the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute in Tanzania, will be at University College London, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UK. Her fellowship will focus on metagenomics and computational analysis of multi-omics data, to support her research into how TB infection and TB therapies impact inflammatory and metabolic pathways in African populations.

To further her research into investigating plant origin compounds and their antibacterial scavenging properties, Dr Florence Mabou of University of Dschang, Cameroon will be going to the University of Rennes 1 in France to identify new antibiotic resistant bacterial compounds from plants and their biotransformation toreduce their toxicity or increase their bioactivity using Liquid Chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry techniques.

Dr Evans Mainsah Ngandung of University of Buea, Cameroon, will be at University College London, UK to research new techniques to develop and optimize potential leads derived from isoniazid against tropical diseases, malaria and TB.

Dr Azuka Patrick Okwuraiwe will be at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine to develop his skills in sequencing, viroinformatics tools and software. This will help him to analayze and sequence hepatitis B data, which will better inform drug management and enhance the treatment of chronic hepatitis B at his home institute, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Nigeria

To further her research on the optimisation of bioprospecting approaches for antimicrobial natural substances, Dr Gislaine Aurelie Kemegne will be at the University of Glasgow, UK. She will  quantify the differential expression of selected candidate genes, and undertake statistical analysis to develop a antimicrobial response model.

Strengthening research on women’s reproductive and sexual health

From the University of Pretoria, South Africa, Dr Pontsho Moela will investigate the interaction between two biological molecules associated with cancer progression at the University of Nottingham, UK.. Understanding their interaction opens up the possibility of developing novel  cell markers for cancer and targeted anticancer therapies  effective in African populations

Dr Tewodros Seyoum from the University of Gondor, Ethiopia will develop his skills in implementation science research at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. His aim is to ensure safe and accessible maternal health care for women in local and conflict affected communities in Ethiopia by transferring his training to midwives.

From the University of Medical Sciences, Nigeria, Dr Aniefiok Udoakang will be at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens in Ghana to characterize and describe populations of-specific and medically relevant gut microbiome signatures in Nigerian and Ghanaian women using metagenomics.This will increase our knowledge of the role of the gut microbiome in breast cancer and has the potential to lead to new treatments. .

Strategies to reduce the impact of snakebite

Inspired by the few toxinologists in Africa, Dr Hadiza Lawal Abdullahi of Bayero University, Nigeria will be at the Venoms and Toxins Unit of Institut Pasteur of Morocco to research modern approaches to snakebite therapies by profiling venoms and purification of their componentsdeveloping new skills on venomics and antivenomics research.

Tackling vector borne diseases

Dr Romuald Agonhoussou of Foundation for Scientific Research, Benin will be at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Germany to create measures of antimalarial drug performance for malaria elimination strategies. He will investigate the Plasmodium malaria parasite and its genetic interaction with Plasmodium falciparum.

Dr Agnikè Wassiyath Mousse of Tropical Infections Diseases Research Centre, University of Abomey-Calavi , Benin will complete her fellowship at University of Claude Bernard Lyon 1 Ecology in France developing her skills in microbial ecology of mosquito, to reduce resistance to the commonly used insecticides on malaria vector populations.

Dr Huguette Dorine Simo Tchetgna of Centre Pasteur of Cameroon will complete her fellowship at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), in Nigeria sequencing arboviruses from different samples of urine, blood and mosquito tissues. This will help her undertake her research into the genetic evolution of the virus causing yellow fever.

Focussing on clinical diagnosis and alternative treatments of zoonotic neglected tropical diseases, Dr Ukamaka Uchenna Eze of Nigeria will complete her fellowship at the University of Pretoria. She will generate data on important biomarkers, to help her develop a kit for prompt clinical diagnosis of rabies in Africa.

Improving outcomes for non-communicable diseases and improving nutrition

Dr Rawlence Ndejjo will analyse data from a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of community programmes in promoting lifestyle changes that will prevent cardiovascular disease. His fellowship will be at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UK.

Dr Justice Kumi from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana will be based at the Institute for Global Food Security at the University of Belfast, UK focusing on strategies for reducing aflatoxin food exposures in children. His research outcomes will provide   e evidence-based data to inform clinical public and animal health policies in Ghana.

Knowing that nutrition is a multisectoral issue, Dr Haikael David Martin will be at the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition-North West University (CEN-NWU) in South Africa, to work with advanced technologies to develop new techniques, methods and indicators on therapeutic nutrition practice. She will return to her home institution, at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania to implement nutrition-related community interventions.

Dr Belinda Kweka of the National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania will be at the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine, UK to assess the level of oxidative stress in people with hemoglobinopathies and open channels for new studies that will investigate the impact of antioxidants in reducing the risk of people with hemoglobinopathies developing diabetes. 

Dr Lilian Antwi Boateng of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana will be at the Immunohaematology Department of Sanquin Bloedvoorziening in Netherlands to develop red blood cell antibody testing protocols for identifying alloantibodies in patients requiring blood transfusing in Ghana. She envisions that her fellowship research findings will improve the management of blood transfusion in Black and ethnic minority populations in the global north and south.

Would you like to be an AREF Research Development Fellow?

If you would like to be in our next cohort of fellows, applications for our 2023/24 Research Development Fellowships are now OPEN, with a deadline for applications in September. Keep track of our website, Twitter and LinkedIn for tips and application reminders.

Our fellowships are only possible as a result of the support received from the Medical Research Council, the Sir Leonard Rogers Tropical Medicine Research Fund, and other generous donors. 

Published: 19 July 2023