Africa needs a strong cohort of drug discovery scientists to respond to the therapeutic needs of the continent
The common practice of using commercial market demand to drive the discovery of new medicines has over the years reduced drug discovery work on diseases that affect Africa to a trickle. The focus on this area from research teams in Africa is minimal. The continent, therefore, needs multidisciplinary teams to be excellent in their work by building world class capabilities that can deliver much needed new medicines for local diseases.
In response, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in partnership with the University of Cape Town (UCT) Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, (BMGF) have committed funding and most importantly technical support to strengthen drug discovery capabilities and create a virtual drug discovery network in Africa.
The call for proposals will support a second cohort of Drug Discovery proposals rolled out within this partnership.
The Drug Discovery partnership specifically seeks to provide support to develop and strengthen infrastructure, drug discovery capacity and human resources. The goal being to unlock additional funding and industry partnerships for the design and creation of new therapies and products for diseases prevalent in Africa. Additionally, having local scientists who understand the scope and who work with patients daily, will offer unquantifiable benefits to the continent.
Funding of up to USD $100,000 will be given to each successful researcher in Africa to implement a two-year inter-disciplinary project whose objectives include identifying:
To be eligible, applicants must:
For more information on this call visit the AAS funding webpage here
Watch one of our current drug discovery grantees speak here
Note to the editor
The African Academy of Sciences
The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is a non-aligned, non-political, not-for-profit pan African organisation whose vision is to see transformed lives on the African continent through science. Our tripartite mandate is recognising excellence through the AAS’ highly prestigious fellowship and award schemes, providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) strategies and policies and implementing key STI programmes addressing Africa’s developmental challenges. The Academy’s five strategic focus areas include: Environment and climate change; health and wellbeing; natural sciences; policy and governance; and social sciences and humanities.
Join us on Facebook.com/AASciences and Twitter @AASciences and learn more by visiting www.aasciences.africa
Grand Challenges Africa
The Grand Challenges family of initiatives seeks to engage innovators from around the world to solve science, technology and innovation, health and developmental challenges. Grand Challenges initiatives are united by their focus on fostering innovation, directing research to where it will have the most impact, and serving those most in need. The Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) scheme is part of the family and seeks to promote Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by awarding seed and full grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. The AAS through its agenda setting, funding and programme implementation platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Science in Africa (AESA) implements GC Africa in partnership with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Visit the Grand Challenges Africa webpage for more information.
Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D)
The Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) at the University of Cape Town will be a key partner in this collaboration. They will offer their experience in conducting drug discovery projects on the continent to make this program a success. H3D will be involved in the identification of innovative ideas and promote excellence in the program. They will also offer their experiences for local capacity building in this area. Where possible they will offer access to their facilities for collaborations depending on their capacity in order to address gaps identified at the African partner institution. H3D will specifically participate in this program by providing opportunities to African partners:
1. to be immersed within H3D’s ongoing malaria and TB drug discovery projects as full project members working from their home institutions
2. to use H3D infrastructure, technology platforms and expertise to fill gaps in their own environment
3. to generate key data from existing screening assays to support the projects at the African partner institution as well as to provide project management support and guidance with data interpretation
4. to tap into existing H3D/pharmaceutical industry scientist exchange programs for capacity building in order to gain additional skills
Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)
Medicines for Malaria Venture will provide expertise for the discovery, development, and delivery of effective new interventions targeted in this call. The team will ensure that the call focusses on innovative projects that have a potential to contribute to the global health drug discovery pipelines and advice on the risks and opportunities of each project.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Dr Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H Gates, Sr, under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet.
Applicants must email GCAfrica@aasciences.africa
Media to contact Davies Mbela | Communications Assistant I African Academy of Sciences firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +254 20 806 0674