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LifeArc and the Francis Crick Institute partner with five African research institutions to support scientists

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The Crick Africa Network (CAN) is set to extend for a further five years, supporting more young African scientists to build their careers in research, thanks to a £7.5 million investment from LifeArc.

CAN, supported by LifeArc, will offer career accelerator fellowships for post-doctoral biomedical researchers to develop their research into translational scientific programmes and to become independent scientists, building their careers on the African continent.

“Low- and middle-income countries face the biggest threats from infectious disease, climate change and related health impacts. However, their scientists, who are best placed to pose and answer the right research questions, often lack the resources and connections. We are committed to redressing this imbalance and creating equitable partnerships with scientists in Africa.

“We’ve already seen incredible success from our previous fellows who are establishing themselves as science leaders, growing scientific and training capacity in Africa, and contributing to global biomedical research. We’re delighted to develop CAN further and partner with LifeArc who will bring their expertise and financial support to the network.”

Jean Langhorne, Director of the Crick African Network

CAN fellows will receive four years of funding hosted at one of five African partner institutions: WACCBIP, University of Ghana; Stellenbosch University, South Africa; University of Cape Town, South Africa; MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM; MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit.

They will also have the opportunity to utilise the world-class research and laboratory facilities and platforms at the Crick as well as at LifeArc’s state-of-the-art facilities in Stevenage and Edinburgh. They will be offered mentorship and support in grant writing, publications, research ethics, as well as translational science and commercialisation delivered by LifeArc’s Academic Engagement team.

In another addition to the programme, CAN will now support technology development fellows – one-year training posts for African-based scientists in the management and development of science and technology platforms which provide critical technical research support.

LifeArc are focused on translational science – bridging the gap between academic research and clinical development. They provide funding, research and expert advice, all with a commitment to having a positive impact on patient lives. Having LifeArc as part of CAN will bring a unique translational focus to the programme, ensuring that research addresses unmet medical need and bridges the gap between basic discovery science and the development of new diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.

“LifeArc is committed to investing over £100 million in global health, with a focus on infectious diseases, over the coming years. We are delighted that one of our first announcements as part of this, is our support of the Crick Africa Network. Our aim is to focus our efforts where the need of patients is greatest and where we can make a unique contribution. Pursuing collaborative partnerships, like this, that drive innovation and help create a more equitable and sustainable global health research ecosystem is core to what we are trying to achieve. We look forward to working with the fellows as they build their careers.”

Dr Mike Strange, Head of Global Health at LifeArc

CAN successes

Since it was first established in 2017, 18 CAN fellows have progressed through the unique programme, building their own careers and furthering their research in infectious diseases.

Achievements from the first cohort include:

  • 82 academic publications published
  • Over £11.6 million secured in grant funding
  • 97 students supervised, building training capacity for the next generation of African scientists

Peter Quashie, a Former CAN Fellow, is now the deputy director of research at WACCBIP, University of Ghana. He said: “The leadership training that I benefited from early on in my CAN Fellowship was instrumental in helping me plan my career, supervise students and staff, and apply for grants.

“By allowing flexibility to pursue COVID-19 research when other research had stalled, CAN allowed me to shine and become known as a scientist repute, beyond HIV. As a result, I drove a lot of centre-level COVID-19 projects and helped obtain over $3 million in funding to WACCBIP.”

Media contact

Hannah Severyn

Head of Media and PR at LifeArc

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