A new long-term vision to develop the next generation of African health researchers has been announced today with an initial £40 million five-year commitment from the Wellcome Trust.
The Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa initiative is an open call for universities and research institutes to submit applications for programmes that will equip sub-Saharan African scientists to carry out world-class research relevant to Africa’s health challenges.
DELTAS Africa encourages applications for health research programmes that will develop a cohort of outstanding sub-Saharan African researchers, from Master's, PhD and postdoctoral scientists through to the research leaders of today and tomorrow, who can focus on studies driven by local needs.
Suitable themes for research programmes might include: emerging and endemic infections; persistent threats such as neglected tropical diseases, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria; the growing challenge of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and mental health; and regional public health challenges.
Proposals that include networks of scientists across Africa and from the international research community are particularly welcomed.
The initiative builds on previous Wellcome Trust programmes in Africa, which have brought together scientists from the east and west of the continent, developed career structures for young researchers, and enhanced research capacity. DELTAS Africa marks a step change in direction and resources for this activity, with its centre of gravity moving to Africa. It will focus on the development of scientific excellence that promotes research leadership and capacity within the continent, including well-resourced and structured training.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “We want to help support the development of a new generation of world-class African research leaders, who will play a part in shaping and driving high-quality, locally relevant health research. We are ultimately looking to contribute to improved health in the continent through excellent science.”
Dr Val Snewin, Manager in International Operations at the Wellcome Trust, said: “The Wellcome Trust has a well-established track record in investing in health research in sub-Saharan Africa. We are taking this a step further by outlining a long-term vision that focuses on the development of talented individuals through structured research, training and mentoring programmes and supporting world-class research environments in universities and research institutes.”
The approach taken by DELTAS Africa also aims to facilitate collaboration with other funders of African research to coordinate activities and investment in the continent.
The Wellcome Trust is the second-highest spending charitable foundation in the world, dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support bright minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities, including public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.
About Wellcome Trust international funding
We devote a significant proportion of our funds to health-related research conducted outside the UK through our international funding. This includes five Major Overseas Programmes, in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand and Laos, and Vietnam, and an existing portfolio of capacity-strengthening initiatives. Our international strategy for supporting biomedical health research and training in low- and middle-income countries focuses on the following aims:
broadening the base for scientific endeavour by investing in scientists in low- and middle-income countries who have the greatest potential to advance knowledge, and ensuring they have the resources and environments they need to carry out their work
supporting areas of science that have the potential to create health benefits for people and their livestock
supporting public engagement programmes to raise the profile of research in low- and middle-income countries and promote informed discussion about its impact
supporting international networks and partnerships that focus on health research in resource-limited settings and that aid the sharing of ideas and resources and ultimately accelerate scientific progress.