Preparatory Fellowships – Joint call with the Africa Research Excellence Fund
There is a need to provide aspiring African researchers the necessary tools for development in the form of structured mentorship support and stimulating research challenges. Such support can best be provided to early postdoctoral researchers by well-resourced and established institutions. Africa accounts for 15-20% of the world’s population and a disproportionately large share of disease burden, yet scientific publications by African researchers account for less than 2% of the total academic journal output*. As a result, it is imperative to enable African researchers to enhance their competitiveness for international funding opportunities early in their careers while retaining them in Africa, working on Africa’s health challenges and priorities.
The capacity strengthening needs for health research in sub-Saharan Africa predominantly centre on lack of funding and limited systematic career development for researchers. In general, health research capacity building programmes in Africa and other low-income regions are more tailored to PhD candidates than to early-career postdoctoral scientists. Furthermore, international fellowship programmes typically focus on people who are already well-trained and who show exceptional talent and promise. The experience of global health research funders is that African scientists are under-represented and less competitive in local and international funding schemes: their science may be promising but the framing of research questions; the research design; the proposed analyses and mentoring structure are often not well developed.
The Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) aims to bridge the critical gap early in the career path from research experience to research leadership. AREF is an independent charity established by the UK Medical Research Council and led from sub-Saharan Africa, with the support of the UK Medical Research Foundation.
The purpose of the AREF/EDCTP Preparatory Fellowship is to enhance the competitiveness of up and coming post-doctoral sub-Saharan African scientists and clinicians aspiring to receive international /regional /national fellowships or grant support, such as the EDCTP Career Development Fellowships.
The AREF/EDCTP Preparatory Fellowship targets outstanding early-career researchers residing in or wishing to relocate to sub-Saharan Africa who demonstrate independent scientific thinking and have potential to deliver locally relevant research with measurable impact and within the scope of the EDCTP2 programme.
The objectives of this call are to:
- Enable outstanding sub-Saharan African researchers (0 to 3-year post-PhD) to:
- further advance their research skills, through short-course(s) and hands-on training, especially using biological samples and data they or their home organisations have generated;
- strengthen their competencies in project and proposal design;
- enhance essential their generic/transferable researcher skills that will allow them to secure research partnerships, and make effective use of fellowships;
- contribute to creating a pool of researchers optimally equipped with the expertise and skills to address local research needs.
- Enable individuals to deploy their own resourcefulness and research relationships to best effect in competing for early/mid-career fellowships, such as (but not limited to) the EDCTP Career Development Fellowships
- Enhance career development and retention of postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate medical researchers in research in and for sub-Saharan Africa
- Provide a firm foundation and increase the quality, efficiency and impact of fellowship projects funded by organisations such as EDCTP.
The proposal for an AREF/EDCTP Fellowship Preparation Award must be submitted by the home organisation (‘the applicant legal entity’). The grants will be awarded to the home organisation with the explicit commitment that this organisation offers appropriate conditions for the fellow to direct and manage their funding for the duration of the fellowship.
Successful applicants will use the funding for a 3 to 9 months placement at a centre of research excellence in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa contracted to host the fellow before spending 3-months re-entry re-integration period to the fellow’s home (employing) institution, making a total training period of up to 12 months.
Projects funded under this Call for Proposals should:
- contribute towards the achievement of SDG3 ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’)
- enhance the ability of fellows to design, plan and execute clinical biomedical and/or social science/ethics research proposals, and manage research relationships, within the scope of the EDCTP2 programme; and to generate competitive proposals into effective projects
- promote and enhance competitiveness for the next tier of fellowships and grants, such as (but not limited to) the EDCTP Career Development Fellowships
- lead to high impact research outputs by junior sub-Saharan African scientists who have not been supported by major funders previously
- foster new collaborations and mentorship opportunities for newly trained fellows
- equip the next generation of African researchers to sustain excellent and relevant research in sub-Saharan Africa, and engage as African citizens with African leaders, policy-makers and industries to drive forward evidence-based health improvement.
A proposal will only be considered eligible if:
- its content corresponds, wholly or in part, to the topic/contest description for which it is submitted
- it complies with the eligibility conditions set out below, depending on the type of action:
- The applicant must be an organisation with an established legal entity in sub-Saharan Africa (the applicant legal entity)
- The fellow must be employed or have guaranteed employment by the applicant legal entity (the home organisation) where they intend to remain working for a minimum of two years after the expiration of the grant
- Fellows must:
- be a post-doctoral scientist;
- have been awarded their doctorate within 3 years before submission deadline of the AREF-EDCTP Preparatory Fellowship application;
- have been either a PhD student or MD, who have been active researchers for up to three years following award of their doctorate;
- be resident of or be willing to relocate to a sub-Saharan African country;
- not have been funded under this fellowship scheme before.
- The requested EDCTP contribution per action shall not exceed EUR 70,000
- Placements sought shall be for a period of at least 3 and up to 9 months, following which there will be a re-integration period of up to 3 months. The maximum fellowship duration shall be 12 months.
Procedure and application process
Submission and evaluation procedure
This call has a two-stage application procedure.
- For the first stage, a letter of intent must be submitted by the fellow with a letter of support from the applicant legal entity (home organisation employing the fellow) by the indicated deadline. The letters of intent will be reviewed by an independent evaluation committee comprising experts jointly identified by the EDCTP and AREF in compliance with the provisions set in the Rules for Participation of Horizon 2020 and the EDCTP2 Basic Act. Up to thirty six successful candidate fellows will be shortlisted in the first stage and invited to a preparatory workshop led, organised and financed by AREF.
- For the second stage, the fellow and his/her home organisation (applicant legal entity) must submit a comprehensive training and development plan (including a draft re-integration plan) taking into account guidance provided in the workshop that will be evaluated by a panel of independent experts to select the 12 best proposals.
- A letter of Intent for Stage 1 must be submitted by 1 February 2019 at 17:00:00 CET via EDCTPgrants. Evaluation results are expected to be made available 4 April 2019.
- A full proposal for Stage 2 must be submitted by 4 July 2019 at 17:00:00 CET via EDCTPgrants. Evaluation results are expected to be made available by 7 October 2019.
The host organisation (applicant) must provide a support letter confirming that the organisation is supportive of the proposed action and willing through its financial and administrative systems to enable the fellow to direct independently the proposed action and manage its funding for the duration of the fellowship.
Evaluation, scoring and thresholds
Following an admissibility and eligibility check, letters of intent and full proposals are evaluated by external, independent experts. Proposals are evaluated according to the criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation. Each criterion is scored between 0 and 5. For the evaluation of first-stage proposals under a two-stage submission procedure, only the criteria ‘excellence’ and ‘impact’ will be evaluated. Within these criteria, only the aspects in bold will be considered. The threshold for both individual criteria will be 4.
For second-stage proposals the applicant has a ‘right to reply’ to the expert assessments (rebuttal procedure).
The following aspects are considered under the evaluation criteria:
- Fit with the scope and objectives of the EDCTP2 Programme, the EDCTP strategic research agenda and the call topic description
- Importance, relevance/pertinence and clarity of the objectives.
- Soundness of the concept and credibility of the proposed approach/methodology
- Suitability of the candidate, considering their track record, degree of independence and/or potential, and how the fellowship will further the individual’s career
- Quality of the project and its fit with the fellow’s expertise and career development plan, including acquired competencies and skills to be developed further.
- Call specific aspects as listed under ‘expected impact’ in each individual call
- The extent to which the outputs of the proposed work would contribute, at the European, African and/or International level, to each of the expected impacts listed in the work plan under the relevant topic
- Likelihood to result in major advances in the field
- Contribution of the fellowship to the fellow’s clinical research skills and career development
- Contribution to strengthening clinical research capacity at the home or host organisation
- Effectiveness of the proposed measures to exploit and disseminate results generated during the fellowship (including management of IPR), to communicate the fellowship activities, and, where relevant, to manage clinical data
- Sustainability and retention of capacity post-award.
3. Quality and efficiency of the implementation
- Quality and effectiveness of the work plan, including extent to which the resources assigned to work packages are in line with their objectives and deliverables
- Appropriateness of the management structures and procedures, including risk and innovation management, and how responsibilities for research data quality and sharing, and security will be met
- Complementarity of the participants within the consortium, and the extent to which the consortium as whole brings together the necessary expertise
- Appropriateness of the allocation of tasks and resources, ensuring that all participants have a valid role and adequate resources in the project to fulfil that role
- Feasibility and appropriateness of the methods and project management to achieve the objectives within the timeframe of the grant
- Compliance with national and international standards of research, Good Clinical Practice, ethics and safety related issues
- Participants have the operational capacity, to carry out the proposed work, based on the competence and experience of the individual participant(s)
- Suitability of the fellow’s home organisation to support the fellowship project
- Intention of the fellow’s home organisation to develop and commit to a career post-fellowship or re-integration plan.
The call budget is EUR 400.000.
The requested EDCTP contribution per project should not exceed EUR 400,000. The funding level is 100% of eligible costs.
The Coordinator is required to sign a grant agreement with EDCTP (EDCTP2 mono-beneficiary grant agreement with options for Fellowships) within three months of receipt of the evaluation outcome letter. All participants in the action must sign a consortium agreement prior to grant agreement signature
The fellow’s host organisation will have to sign a good practice charter prepared by EDCTP for EDCTP-funded fellows and by AREF for AREF-funded fellows. Host organisations need to meet a set of minimum requirements in order to qualify as prospective hosts: they should have some clinical research capacity, including staff who are GCP qualified or experienced, demonstrable ability to follow-up community involvement in clinical research, availability of institutional review board or national guidelines for conducting clinical research, GCLP compliant laboratories, adequate facilities with qualified staff, sufficient biostatistics capacity including its relevant computer technologies, experienced data management staff, ability to store some or all of samples locally and excellent IT platform. AREF requirements will be similar and appropriate to its remit, which includes non-clinical trial methods e.g. in laboratory and in social and behavioural sciences.
- The application must be submitted online via EDCTPgrants
- Only registered users of EDCTPgrants system can apply for grants and therefore you are advised to register on the system as soon as possible.
Documents and more information
- Template of application form – Letter of Intent (Word)
- Guidance on completing the Application Form of the Letter of Intent (PDF)
- For questions related to this call for proposals, please contact:
EDCTP: Dr Michelle Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org
AREF: Mr Sulayman Janneh at Sulayman.Janneh@aref-africa.org.uk or Sulayman.email@example.com
- For questions and issues about EDCTPgrants and the online application submission please contact EDCTP via firstname.lastname@example.org
- For guidance on online application procedure, please refer to the Guidance for applicants
- For more information about EDCTP2 procedures, please refer to the EDCTP2 Grants Manual and EDCTP2 FAQs
- EDCTP2 policy on clinical trials registration, publication and data sharing (PDF)
- Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (PDF)