To support the networking of African researchers, the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) has launched its Alumni Network platform. This online interactive platform makes the professional profiles of all current and past EDCTP fellows easily accessible. Moreover, it facilitates reflection and collaboration among the more than 100 EDCTP fellows from sub-Saharan Africa to date. Working groups on HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected or emerging infectious diseases have also been established.
Since its inception, EDCTP has invested in supporting individual researchers at different stages of their careers through an evolving set of graduate and post-doctoral fellowship opportunities. During the first EDCTP programme, this commitment supported 56 Fellows and in the first years of EDCTP2 (2014-2016), 57 African researchers have received funding, including 9 Clinical Research & Development Fellows, 35 Career Development Fellows and 13 Senior Fellows, .
“The EDCTP Alumni network and platform represents diversity in skill-sets and phases in career progression in health research in Africa. This interactive platform will enable fellows to learn peer-to-peer from each other without any implied authority regarding position or discipline.”
Prof. Moses Bockarie, EDCTP Director of South-South Cooperation and Head of Africa Office
Developing African health research capacity
Fellowships are part of the broader EDCTP funding strategy to support development of African health research capacity, which includes four regional Networks of Excellence and support for activities that strengthen ethical, regulatory and legal frameworks for conducting collaborative clinical research on poverty-related infectious diseases affecting sub-Saharan Africa. The platform serves as an online forum for all EDCTP fellows to network, discuss issues related to the areas of their expertise, and new ideas that may lead to submission of collaborative activities among the fellows.
“What Africa needs as enduring 'roads and bridges' for its research and development capacity is a critical mass of well-grounded and networked research leaders that uphold excellence irrespective of their location. The launch of the EDCTP Alumni network and platform is an essential building block toward this aspiration as we continue to make cumulative career development investments in Africa.”
Dr Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director
Alumni Network launch workshop
A two-day interactive workshop was held in Johannesburg, South Africa on 3 and 4 October 2017 to mark the start of the EDCTP Alumni Network. This workshop was attended by 74 current and past EDCTP fellows. Other stakeholders also attended the workshop, including the Department of Science and Technology (South Africa), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), coordinators of EDCTP Networks of Excellence, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), WHO-AFRO, WHO-TDR, and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM). A beta version of the online platform was presented during this workshop, and feedback from the fellows was used to further develop and customize the final version now available for use.