Addressing gender and diversity gaps in clinical research capacity at the EDCTP Regional Networks of Excellence
Call identifyer: PSIA2020AGDG
Project Officer: Michelle Nderu, contact via firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of its contribution to the EDCTP2 Programme, the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is supporting a Participating States Initiated Activity (PSIA) in 2020 titled ‘Towards addressing gender and diversity capacity gaps in clinical research in sub-Saharan Africa’.
A PSIA is an EDCTP Participating State activity which is under the remit of EDCTP, co-labelled as being part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union, and may be targeted to countries and institutions of the funding Participating States’ choice.
The activity responds to the findings and recommendations of the EDCTP-Africa CDC workshop Collaborating to improve gender-related and regional disparities in research funding held on 19-20 November 2019, at Africa Union Headquarters, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and aligns with EDCTP’s COVID-19 related research capacity strengthening efforts as part of its 2020 Work Plan.
Since 2003, EDCTP funding has had a major impact on the development of clinical research capacity in both human capital and infrastructure. This can be seen by the growing number of EDCTP Fellows and grant holders taking up scientific leadership positions in Africa, as well as the increased number of institutions across sub-Saharan Africa that have established or improved facilities with multidisciplinary research teams that are now capable of carrying out clinical studies of international standards.
However, there remain significant geographical disparities in the EDCTP portfolio, with limited participation in EDCTP-funded projects and fellowships level from Central and West Africa, and at individual countries level as well as upcoming research institutions in East and Southern Africa. Furthermore, there is a gender imbalance with fewer women applying for and receiving EDCTP funding at the level of fellowships and as coordinators of research consortia. These regional disparities and gender imbalances may become increasingly pronounced in the context of infectious disease outbreaks. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other recent outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging diseases in sub-Saharan Africa have served to highlight the heterogeneity of health research infrastructures and the variation in preparedness capacity within and between countries and regions to handle emergencies and conduct comprehensive and well-coordinated research in response to such disease threats. Against this backdrop, this PSIA aims to address these disparities by supporting the training of 20 female PhD candidates at the EDCTP Regional Networks (five PhD candidates/network).
Proposals should describe how the Network will support the training of Africa-based female PhD candidates, in line with the recent report and recommendations from the EDCTP-Africa CDC Workshop and should include the following:
- Strategy to advertise, attract and support competitive applications from PhD candidates, particularly from under-represented countries within the region and Network.
- A transparent and fair mechanism to assess and select candidates.
- A framework to ensure adequate supervision and mentorship arrangements for each PhD candidate.
- System to monitor and evaluate progress, including regular reporting to the independent advisory committee of the Network.
- Compliance with the highest international standards and ethical conduct of research
- Plans to support the career development of PhD candidates, including networking and training opportunities to extend their experience and expertise.
- Development and/or refinement of a Network policy on gender equality, diversity, and inclusion to be implemented at each institution in the network, including data collection and monitoring of the effectiveness of the policy.
Proposals must fit with the scope of EDCTP2 and should address key areas such as epidemic preparedness, health economics (e.g. on the impact of infectious diseases and epidemics like COVID-19), related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and improvement of the investments of African countries in Research and Development (R&D) through capacity development related to health research and innovation that are contributors to the economic growth of African countries. Research on COVID-19 is strongly encouraged, as part of the efforts to strengthen the EDCTP Regional Networks so they are swift and more resilient in responding to COVID-19 (or future emerging threats). The planned research studies should incorporate sex and gender considerations in the study designs. See reference material here (Canada) and here (EU).
Proposals are expected to contribute to the training and development of female scientists in sub-Saharan Africa to become future research leaders and to address geographical disparities in research capacity across sub-Saharan Africa.
Procedure and application process
The maximum budget per proposal is 500,000 Euros. Proposals must comply with the following requirements:
- Earmarked for EDCTP Regional Network-supported PhD applications by early-career female scientists with eligible qualifications for enrolment in a PhD programme in Africa and with a defined research proposal, academic registration status, and dedicated supervisors.
- Covering research across all disease areas under the remit of EDCTP2. Research on COVID-19 is strongly encouraged, as part of the efforts to strengthen the Regional Networks so they are more resilient in responding to COVID-19 (or future emerging threats).
- Registration of the PhD should be at an African institution where the student intends to conduct the research. In case the PhD will be conducted as a sandwich programme, most of the time and/or training work (at least 70% of the work) should be in Africa.
- While prioritising PhD studies, in under-represented regions such as some lusophone and some francophone countries, grant winners should be encouraged to enrol female MSc students under their mentorship, to start filling the capacity gaps.
- Spread among applicants to also support PhDs that will cover under-served health research disciplines such as health economics, biostatistics, computational research, bioinformatics etc.
- In the funding range of 100,000 – 150,000 Euros per student over a period of 3 years; covering tuition and additional needs (such as maternity leave and childcare) including flexibility of an additional 6 to 12 months study period, where justifiable.
- Applicable to students from EDCTP Regional Networks and hosting institutions that subscribe to the recommendations from the EDCTP gender/geographical gaps networking meeting
- Proposals are for a maximum duration of four years, with a start date of no later than 1 January 2021.
Application and evaluation procedure
- Applications from EDCTP Regional Networks for this PSIA funding must be submitted by 19 October 2020,17:00 CEST via EDCTPgrants.
- Proposals will be subject to independent peer-review evaluation, according to the procedure of EDCTP PSIAs.
- Decisions are expected by 20 November 2020.
- PSIA Application form – template Please note: this application form is meant for a fellowship scheme, not for individual PhD applications!