The high burden of infectious diseases in developing countries establishes a vicious circle of poverty and ill health making it difficult to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The situation is further aggravated by dearth of high caliber Scientists in sub Saharan African countries.
Effective strategies for endemic diseases control in sub Saharan African countries will require a stable population of researchers and leaders with innovative ideas. To address this challenge, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana with funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has instituted a Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, to train future research leaders who will contribute to infectious diseases control efforts.
The program seeks to train young African scientists toward building a critical mass for control of poverty-related diseases, equip them to compete effectively for international funding for biomedical research in Africa, offer them international exposure, and facilitate their networking and collaboration with other institutions.
Postdoctoral fellowship schemes have been used in affluent countries to further develop research competencies in young investigators. The scheme will also provide a stable population of young researchers with innovative ideas who will undergo mentorship at the NMIMR to a mix of basic, early and late translational research, with the intention to move from basic research to at least early Phase 1 /Phase II trials with drug studies.
The scheme will conduct research into these thematic areas: Malaria, Mycobacterial Infections (Buruli Ulcer and Tuberculosis), HIV/AIDS and Neglected Tropical Diseases (Onchocerciacis, Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections and Schistosomiasis).
The main objectives are to train young African post-doctoral candidates in an African environment with a view to:
- Providing the next generation of biomedical research leaders for disease control and prevention;
- Advancing the careers of trainees in biomedical research;
- Reversing the brain drain of qualified African scientists and thereby creating a critical mass of biomedical scientists on the continent; and
- Creating a model that can be replicated by other African institutions.
The above objectives thus aims at making a significant difference in health research efforts that would meet the challenges of diseases of poverty in Africa and contribute significantly to help attain the MDGs and also reduce brain drain in Africa.