Call for applications for APTI Fellowships
Funding Call Details
Do you belong to a cadre of talented early-career African scientists who wish to be trained abroad and return to their home institutions and become scientific leaders in their community, help solve Africa’s challenges in global health and development, and become trainers for the next generation? If yes, the African Postdoctoral Training Initiative (APTI) has an opportunity for you.
APTI is implemented by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in partnership with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Through the program, APTI Fellows are trained and supported to become scientific leaders who can advocate for increased research and innovation projects in Africa. This is done through 4-year postdoctoral fellowships where APTI Fellows are placed in various laboratories of the NIH Institutes or Centers (i.e., Intramural Research Program) for 2 years before returning to their home institutions in Africa for another 2 years of research.
APTI fellows are expected to be a part of an African regional and global web of collaborations connecting to their home institutions. Moreover, the APTI fellows will be linked to existing African and global scientific networks and will be expected to nurture these scientific collaborations and relationships. Currently, the APTI program has two active cohorts. The current call for applications will recruit about 10 fellows to form the 3rd cohort of APTI fellowships.
Eligible applications for APTI fellowships must meet the following criteria:
- Must be citizens of an African country, currently employed in an academic, research, or government position in an African country
- Must have a relevant doctoral degree (e.g., PhD, MD, MBBS) awarded no more than 7 years before the application submission deadline. Applicants whose doctoral degrees were awarded earlier may be considered on a case-by-case basis subject to justification (e.g., where one took a career break for family-related reasons or to seek asylum due to political instability). Such applicants should submit a request (with justification) for consideration
- Must have less than 5 years of relevant research experience after the award of their doctoral degree, by their start date at the NIH. Brief periods of clinical work and/or teaching, that does not include research, may be allowable, but cannot exceed 2-3 years total.
- Must be fluent in English – reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
APTI fellowships are open to applications from fields of health research, with a focus on innovation aimed at the discovery and translation of transformative solutions to global health problems that are priorities for their home institutions and countries. Additionally, proposals should align with the focus areas of BMGF, the NIH, and the AAS. In this regard, specific areas of interest include:
- Human immunobiology; (human) host-pathogen biology; vaccines and biologics discovery
- Drug discovery: malaria, tuberculosis, pandemic viruses, contraception
- Microbiome research
- Genomics: human, pathogen, microbiome
- Gene-based cures for HIV and sickle cell disease
- HIV, TB, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, enteric and diarrheal diseases, pneumonia
- Women’s sexual and reproductive health
- Vector biology and control (for malaria, neglected tropical diseases and arboviruses)
- Maternal, neonatal and child health, the last including nutrition, growth, and neurodevelopment
- Data science, regulatory science
- Epidemic preparedness: molecular surveillance, clinical trial networks
While at the NIH, the APTI fellows must be on unpaid leave or sabbatical from their home institution, and not receiving a salary or stipend, as required by the NIH Intramural Visiting Fellow Program (https://policymanual.nih.gov/2300-320-3).
Years 1 and 2
- During the first two years of the fellowship at the NIH, APTI fellows shall be engaged as a Postdoctoral Fellow under the NIH Intramural Visiting Fellow Program (VFP) as detailed in https://policymanual.nih.gov/2300-320-3
- Stipend support will follow NIH guidelines based on experience, outlined in https://www.training.nih.gov/postdoctoral_irta_stipend_ranges
- Insurance will be provided to the fellow and dependents that are living in the US https://faes.org/content/health-insurance-services
- Training support will include Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Grant Writing, Resilience and Wellness workshops and courses through the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE). Additional information is available at the website https://www.training.nih.gov/trainees/postdocs
Years 3 and 4
- After successfully completing the two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the NIH, the APTI fellows shall be supported to transition into being independent researchers as follows. APTI fellows shall be provided with a grant of up to USD 226,800 to support years 3 and 4 of the APTI fellowship as detailed below:
- Salary support of up-to USD 38,400 per year subject to the home institution’s HR provisions. The salary support is aimed at ensuring that APTI fellows spend at least 50% of their personnel time on their APTI fellowship
- Research support of up to USD 50,000 per year
- Equipment purchase support of up to USD 50,000 (total)
A key ingredient for the APTI program is a focus on the Home Institutions (HIs) for APTI fellows. Here, APTI expects commitment from HIs to provide conducive research environments and dedicated research time for the fellows upon their return home. A letter of support from the applicants’ Home Institutions will be required, confirming the HI’s commitment to the requirements for the APTI fellowship. Specifically, the HI must explicitly commit to:
- Granting the APTI fellow unpaid leave or sabbatical for 2 years to enable them to relocate to the NIH for the 1st phase of the APTI fellowship
- Keeping contact with the APTI fellow while at the NIH through regular meetings (virtual or otherwise) to monitor progress and prepare for the Fellow’s return
- Offering appropriate conditions for the APTI Fellow to independently direct their APTI fellowship research, including management of funding, after their return from the US for the 2nd phase of the APTI fellowship
- Providing the APTI Fellow with at least 50% of protected time for research at the Home Institution after their return from the NIH. The APTI program shall provide funds to support at least 50% of the APTI Fellow’s salary to facilitate the time commitment on the APTI program during the 2nd phase
- Being directly responsible for the supervision of the APTI Fellow’s research activities
- Providing information required for the Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) due diligence process and implement recommendations/actions thereof. The GFGP due diligence process shall be conducted at no cost to the home institution, as part of the pre-grant award process for the 2nd phase of the APTI fellowship
All applications and their supporting documents must be submitted in English. Supporting documents issued in a language other than English should be accompanied by their English translation.
Applications must be submitted via the AAS Grants Management system (Ishango).
Submission of applications opens on 15 August 2022 and closes on 30 September 2022, at 17.00 East African Time (GMT +3).
Appointment of APTI fellows concluded by March 2023 with fellowships expected to begin at the NIH by September 2023. Dates may be extended based on issuance of visas.
When the call is published:
- Read the call documents carefully
- Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for APTI grants and if the call is suitable for you
- Identify the host institution and work closely with them when writing your proposal, to ensure that your host institution can provide you with the support you will need to implement your research project. Allow time for other people to review your draft. Your former supervisor, peers, and other scientists can all give you helpful support and feedback
- Familiarize yourself with the African Academy of Sciences’ Ishango grant management system and other useful resources.
- For help, refer to the FAQ document provided on the APTI webpage. You may also contact the APTI team via email at email@example.com
- Only one submission per applicant is allowed
- No application submission shall be allowed after the deadline. You may save and update your draft submission from time to time. However once submitted, proposals cannot be edited
- On successful submission of your proposal, you will receive an ‘acknowledgment of receipt’ e-mail. If you do not receive the acknowledgment receipt email, please double-check if your proposal has been submitted and contact the APTI team BEFORE the submission deadline
- After the submission of your application, your proposal shall be checked to determine its completeness and eligibility with reference to the Call requirements. Qualifying applications shall be subjected to an expert review process to shortlist application for further consideration
- Eligible proposals will be further reviewed by the NIH and BMGF. A subset of applicants will be contacted to schedule a virtual interview
- Successful applicants will be matched with an appropriate NIH intramural laboratory