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Commemorating the winners of the Tumani Corrah Prize for Excellence awards ceremony – press release

Researcher at work

London, United Kingdom, 1 December 2023 – Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) is delighted to commemorate Dr Akin Ojagbemi and Dr Kolapo Oyebola as the two winners of the 2023 Tumani Corrah Prize for Excellence which recognises the remarkable successes of our alumni.

Professor Sir Tumani Corrah KBE founded AREF to support the careers of the new generation of African researchers, giving them the stepping stones needed to become outstanding research leaders in their respective fields, ensuring that talent is retained in Africa to address the continent’s unique health research needs.

“In 2015, I launched AREF, for two reasons. Firstly, it was timely to have an African response to an African challenge. Secondly, it was high time that we had capacity in continent to define African research priorities and agenda.” Sir Professor Tumani Corrah.

The first Tumani Corrah Prize for Excellence Awards Ceremony took place  last year to commemorate two  AREF alumni who have made an impact in their chosen field of research and also more widely in health research in Africa.  The prize is open to a different cohort of alumni, based on the year they completed their AREF programme; this year the event took place at the prestigious Royal College of Physicians and the event was also livestreamed virtually.  

This year’s high-level event was attended by donors, key partners, alumni, researchers and representatives from committees. It commemorated two distinguished fellows who completed AREF programmes in 2018 and who have excelled tremendously since their trainings from AREF. As part of the programme, the prize ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on collaborating to drive health change through research.

The selected prize winners were selected based on AREF’s vision of creating a talented community of researchers in Africa. Since its inception 630 AREF alumni are leading world-class research and participating equitably in international research endeavours for health and wellbeing.

Dr. Akin Ojagbemi the winner from 2018 cohort, is a senior lecturer in old-age and neuropsychiatry at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and a consultant in old-age psychiatry at the university’s teaching hospital. He undertook an AREF Research Development Fellowship which supported his long-term goal to help develop and expand access to mental health services for the elderly living in Nigeria and Africa. 

Following the successful completion of his AREF Research Development Fellowship, Akin was appointed Sub-Dean of Postgraduate Studies at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. In 2021, he received an Expertscape ranking (this is a PubMed algorithm) placing him in the top 1% of experts writing about dementia globally over the last 10 years. He’s also received awards from the American Psychiatric Association, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the US National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Kolapo Oyebola, PhD the runner-up winner, is a Principal Investigator at Nigerian Institute of Medical Research with a long-term goal to strengthen sickle cell research in Africa. 

With the knowledge and skills he acquired during an AREF grant writing workshop in 2018, he competed successfully for the African Postdoctoral Training Initiative programme and was awarded 240,000 US dollars for a visiting research fellowship at the US National Institutes of Health. He was subsequently awarded €150,000 euros by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (known as EDCTP). With an additional 226,000 US dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Academy of Sciences, he founded the Centre for Genomic Research in Biomedicine, a platform for training and research in genomics and bioinformatics in Nigeria.


Notes for Editors

For media inquiries, contact:

Awa L. Jagne,

Communication Manager

Africa Research Excellence Fund

Published: 7 December 2023