New Fellowship Program Broadens Opportunities for Researchers in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Partnership in building R&D capacity: l-r Prof. Abraham Haile Amlak (Jimma University), Ms. Michelle Nderu (EDCTP), Dr. Pascal Launois (TDR), Dr. Sunny Oyakhirome (Novatis), Dr Solomon Ali Mohammed (Jimma University) and Mr. Sebastian Gelderbloem (Aeras Africa)

Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. Yet many researchers in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) face limited opportunities to grow and advance in the clinical research field due to a lack of clinical trial experience. And because the workforce lacks experience, institutions in LMICs are overlooked for clinical trial placement. Despite having some of the highest burden of disease, the amount of medical research originating from LMICs is limited.

The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) are working to break this cycle with the TDR Fellowship Program, which aims to provide researchers in LMICs with the opportunity to develop advanced skills in clinical research that can in return be used to help build a larger clinical research infrastructure at home.

Aeras has been a host for the program for the past two years and has recently accepted a third term to host Dr. Evaezi Okpokoro from Nigeria in 2017. Dr. Okpokoro says that “being a successful TDR research fellow is a wish come-true. I strongly think that it is a viable platform that bridges unspoken research capacity gaps.”

Aeras sees the fellowship as a valuable opportunity to develop vital clinical research capacity in LMICs and broaden the understanding of TB vaccine research and development in some of the places that need a vaccine most. But it's also an opportunity for fellows to enrich their host programs, and Areas is looking forward to Dr. Okpokoro's unique contributions.