The Crick African Network has awarded four African Career Accelerator Award Fellowships, bringing the current total to nine, with one final round of recruitment currently underway.
This announcement comes as the first cohort of Crick African Network fellows begin their fellowships under the mentorship of African partner institution and Crick group leaders specialising in infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis - which disproportionately affect people living in Africa.
Our African Career Accelerator Awards are designed to help facilitate the transition from mid-career postdoctoral research scientists to research group leaders on the African continent.
Spending at least six months at the Crick, Crick African Network fellows will also work at one of five African partner institutions, namely the MRC Uganda Virus Research Institute and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, MRC Unit in The Gambia at LSHTM (representing the West African Global Health Alliance), Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, and West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana.
We caught up with our newest Crick African Network fellows to find out a bit more about them and their research areas:
Dr Yaw Aniweh
Yaw is a Ghanaian national, who studied for his undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Coast (Ghana) and PhD at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore).
Interested in malaria, Yaw wants to understand how Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale enter red blood cells where they divide and multiply before bursting out and infecting more cells.
Learning he had been awarded a Crick African Network Fellowship Yaw said: “I believe that with the open environment and technology platforms that the Crick offers, young scientist like myself can benefit from good mentorship to drive impactful science.”
Yaw is also passionate about public engagement and has experienced first-hand the benefits of communicating his science, which is an integral part of the Crick’s mission.
Dr Aida Badiane
Aida is interested in strategies to eliminate malaria in her home country, Senegal in West Africa. Her Crick African Network fellowship will allow her to develop her network, splitting her time between the Crick and the MRC Unit in The Gambia at LSHTM (one of Senegal’s neighbouring countries).
Aida is excited to extend her network and work with at the MRC Unit in The Gambia at LSHTM to develop new strategies for malaria elimination in the Senegambia region. She says: “working at the Crick will be a great opportunity for me to be trained in new technologies and acquire new skills – including in the areas of funding and innovation."
Dr Alassane Mbengue
Alassane is a Senegalese national, interested in developing new scientific tools to study the deadliest malaria parasite P. falciparum and reasons behind emerging drug-resistance.
Alassane will split his time between the Crick, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (Senegal), and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana while a Crick African Network fellow.
“I’m looking forward to being part of an outstanding African malaria research leadership team at WACCBIP as well as making the most of parasite genome editing tools, genotyping and sequencing facilities at the Crick,” he says.
In addition to his research, Alassane is also leading the African Society of Molecular and cellular Biology at WACCBIP, which aims to develop and strengthen high impact research for biomedical African scientists.
Dr Kate Webb
Having trained as a medical doctor in South Africa and then as a scientist in the UK, Kate is returning to South Africa to study the autoimmune disease lupus at the University of Cape Town.
Despite disproportionately affecting African people, there is almost no research into the disease being carried out on the continent. Kate wants to change that, setting out to investigate whether affordable and safe medications can benefit lupus patients, and study differences between African patients and Western patients for the first time.
“There is no known cause and no known cure for lupus, and there is an urgent need for research that is inclusive of African patients and focusses on their needs,” she says. “As a doctor, my patients are always central to any research that I perform, and I am really excited and honoured that the Crick institute is supporting me in this novel and important work.”