The first cohort of Crick African Network fellows.

African Career Accelerator Awards

African Career Accelerator Awards

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The Crick African Network’s African Career Accelerator (CAN ACA) awards have provided postdoctoral fellowships for African researchers who are aiming to make the transition to becoming an independent researcher and launching their own research group.

The awards invest in early-career researchers who have demonstrated strong scientific and leadership potential, as well as a commitment to continuing their research on the African continent. They are supported by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund

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For more information, get in touch by emailing can-fellowships@crick.ac.uk.

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Over the course of the two year programme, the fellows will divide their time between the Crick and one of the five African partner institutions:

Meet the fellows

Irene Andia-Biraro in the lab

Dr Irene Andia-Biraro

Irene is based in the Robert Wilkinson's group at the Crick and the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit and will be studying impact of pregnancy-associated tuberculosis on poor maternal and infant clinical outcomes, especially in the presence of HIV co-infection.

Dr Yaw Aniweh

Dr Yaw Aniweh

Yaw is training in the Crick’s Malaria Biochemistry laboratory and WACCBIP and is studying the process of malaria infection. He wants to understand how the malaria parasites enter red blood cells where they divide and multiply before bursting out and infecting more cells.

Emmanuel Amlabu

Dr Emmanuel Amlabu

Emmanuel will be based in Moritz Treeck's group at the Crick and WACCBIP. He is working to understand the functional roles of specific proteins and processes during invasion, in the hope of developing new therapeutic strategies against malaria

Dr Sessinou Benoît Assogba

Dr Sessinou Benoît Assogba

Benoît is based in Mike Blackman’s group at the Crick and the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM. He’s also working with the Peptide Chemistry science technology platform and studying the molecular mechanisms and behaviour of mosquito reproduction and is hoping to develop new strategies for controlling the spread of malaria. 

Dr Aida Badiane, CAN fellow

Dr Aïda Badiane

Aïda is training at the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM and Jean Langhorne's group at the Crick and she's hoping to find new strategies for eliminating malaria in the Senegambia region, as well as developing her skills in innovation and applying for funding to continue her work.

Yaw Bediako

Dr Yaw Bediako

Yaw is splitting his time between Jean Langhorne's group at the Crick and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens. He's comparing the immune responses of children in areas of high and low malaria transmission and this information could help to refine future malaria vaccines.

Caroline Beltran

Dr Caroline Beltran

Caroline will be dividing her time between Max Gutierrez's group at the Crick and Stellenbosch University. She studies infectious diseases and will be working to develop new ways to image tuberculosis in the body when it is in its dormant state. 

Kanny Diallo.

Dr Kanny Diallo

Kanny will be working in Robert Wilkinson's group at the Crick and WACCBIP. She studies bacterial meningitis and is going to examine the bacterial microbiome of the oropharynx in children in Côte d'Ivoire. She is hoping to identify trends that could be used to prevent infection.

Isaac Dark Otchere

Dr Isaac Darko Otchere

Isaac will be carrying out research and training in Luiz Pedro Carvalho's group at the Crick and WACCBIP. He will be studying the differences between different strains of the tuberculosis (TB) pathogen and working to eventually develop vaccines, diagnostic tools and drugs. 

Dr Mandy Mason

Dr Mandy Mason

Mandy will be based in Luiz de Carvalho's group at the Crick and the University of Cape Town. She studies tuberculosis (TB) and her work will focus on the bacterium that causes TB, hoping to find bacteria with mutations that make them more susceptible to existing medicines.

Dr Brigitte Glanzmann

Dr Brigitte Glanzmann

Brigitte will be dividing her time between Stellenbosch University and Robert Wilkinson's group at the Crick. She is studying children who get tuberculosis (TB) repeatedly, and hoping to understand if genetic causes make them more prone to developing the disease.

Simon Kimuda in the lab

Dr Simon Kimuda

Simon will be based in Ben Schumann's group at the Crick and at MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit. He will be working to develop lab-based tools that can be used to predict how well TB vaccines work in Uganda. He is planning to study the immune response in children that are able to resist TB infection despite being exposed to the disease.

Dr Alassane Mbengue

Dr Alassane Mbengue

Alassane will be dividing his time between Moritz Treeck's group at the Crick, WACCBIP and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal. He is working to develop new scientific tools to study the deadliest malaria parasite (P. falciparium) and study the reasons behind increasing drug resistance.

Suraj Parihar in the lab

Dr Suraj Parihar

Suraj will be working in Max Gutierrez's group at the Crick and at the University of Cape Town. He is interested in how genes that respond to viral infections can also influence bacterial diseases like tuberculosis. He will be investigating a viral responsive gene in mice and using light microscopy to visualise how this influences TB infection.

Peter Quashie

Dr Peter Quashie

Peter is based at Jonathan Stoye's group at the Crick and WACCBIP, working on understanding the different strains of HIV circulating in West Africa, and examining how they are impacted by current treatment regimes. He hopes to eventually use this information to predict how the different strains of HIV react to treatments.

Ursula Rohlwink.

Dr Ursula Rohlwink

Ursula will be based in Robert Wilkinson's group at the Crick and the University of Cape Town. She studies brain injury and the markers that that are detectable in the brain and spinal cord as a result of TB (or tuberculosis) meningitis. She's hoping to find new insights which could eventually lead to new treatments for brain and spinal cord injuries.

Sofonias Tessema in the lab.

Dr Sofonias Tessema

Sofonias is dividing his time between MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM and the Advanced Sequencing facility at the Crick. He's hoping to develop a next-generation sequencing based malaria surveillance method and create tools to provide detailed information on the genetic profiles of malaria parasites.

Dr Kate Webb

Dr Kate Webb

Kate will be based in George Kassiotis's group at the Crick and the University of Cape Town. She's working to develop affordable and safe medications for lupus, and study differences between African and Western lupus patients for the first time.

About the awards

Duration, location and funding

Fellowships are for a duration of up to two years, each with a value of up to £145,000.

The fellowships are undertaken in at least two locations including the Crick (UK) and, one of the five African partner institutions and optionally a third African institution.

Support and mentoring

Fellows are supported by two supervisors/advisors: one each from the Crick and the chosen African partner institution. They also had the option of support from one of the 14 Crick science technology platforms (STPs) which specialise in specific techniques and technologies.

In addition to conducting the proposed research programme, fellows participate in advanced training which provides the necessary skills to make the transition to becoming an independent research leader on the African continent. 

To facilitate this, fellows are supported to submit a research grant proposal to major international funders in order to be able to continue their work after the end of the fellowship.

Research areas

The scope of the research themes were defined as a biomedical study of infectious diseases of poverty, with an emphasis on tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, but also extending to neglected tropical diseases or non-communicable diseases with an infection component.

Eligibility

CAN Fellows must have citizenship or have permanent residency status of one of the 55 African nations, as defined by the African Union. Applicants also had a PhD and no more than six years’ postdoctoral research experience.

Application assessment

The fellowships were designed to accelerate careers that had already shown great potential both scientifically and in leadership. These awards have identified individuals who will go on to make significant contributions to research as well as science and knowledge on the African continent.

The applications for African Career Accelerator awards were assessed by international peer review, followed by interviews.