Fondation Merieux

A family foundation dedicated to fighting infectious diseases

Strengthening research capacities in Africa

29 July 2008, Sub-Saharan Africa

Together with other European foundations, Fondation Mérieux will promote research on neglected tropical diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Neglected tropical diseases make up a group of 14 infectious diseases which affect more than 1 billion people worldwide, mainly in Africa and mostly living in extreme poverty.

Beyond their negative impact on health, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) contribute to an ongoing cycle of poverty and stigma that leaves tens of millions of people unable to work, go to school or participate in family and community life. Yet, Whilst the "big three" infectious diseases, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, have caught the world's attention, these other disabling and sometimes fatal infectious diseases in Africa receive relatively little attention from donors, policymakers and public health officials.

A new initiative, funded by a consortium of European Foundations, supports the development of African research capacity on these diseases – within the biomedical and public health fields. The initiative supports a Fellwoship Programme for young African researchers in African research institutions to undertake biomedical or related public health research projects that address an urgent and important transitional research question on NTDs in an African context.

The public target is postdoctorates who work in sub-Saharan Africa as well as those who wish to return to these countries. The programme offers Junior Fellowhips (up to 90,000 Euros per Fellow over 3 years) for newly postdoctoral researchers to undertake a postdoctoral training. Experienced researchers can apply for an Extended Fellowship (up to 140,000 Euros per Fellow over 3 years). The Fellow will be based in an African research insitute. The Fellowship Programme aims to strengthen the collaboration between African and European research institutes and it is the Fellow who chooses which European institution he / she proposes to colaborate with and on what research issues and topics.

After a preselection of the fellowships at a meeting held May 15–16 at Les Pensières Conference Centre, the final selection of the fellowships will take place during the International Conference on neglected tropical diseases "MTN 2008" in Bamako in the Charles Mérieux Conference Centre, September 25–27. This conference will bring together major actors such as the European commission, WHO, representatives of health ministries of African countries and experts in the field of the South and Europe. It will allow the preselected candidates to present their research project. It is also planned to organize workshops on topics such as ethics and research, define priorities for research in the field of neglected tropical diseases and an introduction to the writing and good management of research projects for the fellowships.

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