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Ghana leads as Crick-Africa scheme awards four fellowships

Four more recipients of the Crick-Africa Career Accelerator Programme have been announced, taking the total to nine—almost half of whom are from, or connected to, Ghana.

Rob Wilkinson, a tuberculosis professor who shares his time between the Francis Crick Institute in the United Kingdom and the University of Cape Town in South Africa, announced the four in London on 16 April.

The programme targets mid-career researchers who want to establish their own research groups based in Africa. The two-year fellowships are worth about £130,000 (US$170,000) each. Winners divide their time between Crick and an African partner institution.

Kate Webb, a South African relocating from the UK to her home country, will study treatments for lupus, an autoimmune disease. She will share her time between Crick and the University of Cape Town.

Alassane Mbengue from Senegal will work on malaria parasites, looking into what makes some of them resistant to artemisinin treatment. Mbengue, “a star in the making” according to Wilkinson, will split his time in Africa between his home institution, the Institut Pasteur in Senegal and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana, as well as going to the Crick.

Aida Badiane, another Senegalese national, will study the burden of malaria in the context of elimination, with supervision from the UK Medical Research Council MRC Unit in The Gambia and Crick, while retaining contacts with the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and the Senegalese National Malaria Control Programme.

Finally, and also at WACCBIP, Ghanaian Yaw Aniweh will study malaria-binding proteins.

Two of the five winners announced in the first round in November last year also hailed from WACCBIP, making Ghana the “runaway leaders” of the fellowship competition so far, Wilkinson said. The others were from South Africa and Benin. South Africa has three winners in total. “You will have to up your game to keep up with Ghana,” Wilkinson said.

A third round of winners is expected in June. Applications for that round have already closed.