Scientists from Nigeria was among 300 health researchers from Africa and other parts of the world that gathered in Dakar Senegal last week, to showcase ground-breaking works aimed at reducing continent’s disease burden and creating healthier communities.
Scientific breakthroughs discussed at the meeting include progress made on research towards a Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) cure and early detection tools for cancer and malaria.
The Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa Scientific Conference, themed, “A critical mass: developing world-class research leaders” was the first in Francophone Africa, demonstrating The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) commitment to break language and geographical barriers and help foster intra-African collaboration.
The event was organized by the AAS in partnership with the Malaria Research Capacity Development in West and Central Africa (MARCAD), Developing Excellence in Leadership and Genetic Training for Malaria Elimination in Sub Saharan Africa (DELGEME) and Afrique One African Science Partnership for Intervention Research Excellence (Afrique One ASPIRE). Among scientists from Nigeria who were profiled at the meeting was Funsho Ogunshola, a PhD Fellow working on research towards developing an HIV vaccine.
The convening was the third Annual Grantees’ Meeting of DELTAS Africa programme; a US$100 million programme of the AAS supporting the Africa-led development of world-class scientific leaders through health research support, training fellowships, mentorship, and investments in research infrastructure in 12 programmes spanning 21 countries.
Notable attendees were the Father of Africa Genomics, Charles Rotimi from the National Institute of Health and the 2008 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Marty Chalfie.
DELTAS Africa’s goal is to produce a critical mass of new cadre health researchers and scientists who will be at the forefront of cutting-edge research, influencing local health policy and driving a locally relevant health research agenda for Africa.
Among the programme’s achievements to date:
•Close to 1,500 master’s, PhD and postdoctoral trainees, half of whom are women, have been recruited in the four years of the programme and have collectively published 493 papers in high impact journals
• With close to 348 PhD and postdoctoral Fellows registered in institutions outside their home countries, the programme is also promoting intra-Africa collaboration, which is important to mobilise political support for research, to pool scant resources and maximise impact for shared challenges.
• The 12 programmes have collectively attracted additional 298 grants worth over $227 million and received 153 prizes and awards worth $9.3million in recognition of their scientific excellence.
The meeting also provided a platform for over 200 DELTAS Africa funded fellows and researchers – specifically Masters, PhD and Post-doctoral trainees from its 11 programmes spanning Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe – to showcase scientific outcomes and likely impact of their health research.
Scientific breakthroughs discussed at the meeting include progress being made on research towards an HIV cure in South Africa, and efforts towards the development of a low-cost HIV drug resistance assay (70 per cent lower cost – from $100-$200 to $40-$70), that could substantially reduce the cost of HIV drug resistance surveillance in Africa.
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