By Roselyn Ganyaglo
The West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the University of Ghana and its research partners have been selected as one of the 14 leading science consortia to receive funding under phase two of the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training, and Science in Africa programme (DELTAS Africa II).
The DELTAS Africa II programme, which was launched by the Science for Africa Foundation (SFA) in Nairobi on March 14, this year, is a 70 million US dollar programme jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The programme seeks to build world-class research and African scientific leaders for the continent while strengthening African institutions. The second phase of the DELTAS Africa programme funds 14 consortia in nine African countries, with WACCBIP as the lead institution in Ghana.
The consortia are led by 14 world-class research leaders who were selected from 150 applicants through a highly competitive process, with WACCBIP’s Prof Gordon Awandare winning the grant for the second time. Each consortium will receive 4.4 million US dollars over four years to produce quality scientific data and train new science leaders. According to Professor Awandare, the vision of WACCBIP DELTAS II is to build on the successes from DELTAS I, by providing high-quality training and advanced research on the mechanisms underlying the development of infectious diseases (IDs) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“We intend to use deep research approaches to obtain a more thorough understanding of the disease mechanisms for some of the major infectious and non-communicable diseases affecting African populations” he indicated. The project will significantly impact health research capacity by training 60 graduate interns, 15 master and 39 students, 12 PhD students, five early-career postdoctoral fellows, two advanced technology training fellows, and two senior research fellows. The Centre will also enhance the skills of at least 250 health sector professionals through targeted short courses, and build research infrastructure in several collaborating and partner African institutions to enhance their capacity for high-quality research and competitiveness for future research funding.
The DELTAS Africa II Programme set to run from 2023 to 2026, supports 14 programmes in 75 institutions, across 36 countries, which now includes institutions in North Africa and Lusophone countries that had previously not been covered. The consortia, led by world-class African research leaders, recognise the interconnectedness of Climate Change, Food Security and Health and the necessity to balance research excellence and equity. DELTAS Africa II emphasizes intra-African collaboration, engagement and partnership between institutions that are relatively well-resourced and those that are low-resourced.
Deputy Director of Programmes and DELTAS Africa Programme Manager, SFA Foundation, Dr Alphonsus Neba, noted that the DELTAS Africa programme paves the way for new scientific leaders who will address Africa’s most pressing public health challenges and generate data and evidence that informs policy and Africa’s development agenda. “These scientists have contributed to health policy development globally, improved research infrastructure, and increased scientific knowledge through peer-reviewed publications and innovations in health,” he added.
Executive Director of, SFA Foundation, Dr. Tom Kariuki explained that a wide range of expertise will be brought to bare to address the challenges faced by the continent, and to ensure that researchers and institutions are not left behind in efforts to close the critical gaps in the science ecosystem. “This is to ensure healthy and productive nations for the acceleration of economic growth” he reiterated. Chief Research Programmes Officer at Wellcome, Cheryl Moore said “Wellcome is committed to funding ambitious and creative research across Africa that takes on some of the most pressing health challenges facing the world. In addition to funding research, support from Wellcome and the UK government is directed towards the development of global standards for grant due diligence, research management, open access to science and enabling public participation in research.