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Africa Research Excellence Fund Research Development Fellowships 2017 (Award 40,000 British Pounds)

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The Africa Research Excellence Fund announces its third call for applications for AREF’s transformative Research Development Fellowships.  The Programme aims to enhance the research competitiveness of emerging African researchers with leadership potential who are working on important challenges for human health in Africa.

The Programme scope includes a broad range of science disciplines and health challenges.  AREF is keen to attract more excellent proposals on important neglected tropical diseases – in particular on chronic ill-health and mental health – and in maternal, neonatal and infant health.

The Fellowship enables talented early-career researchers to develop their own research ideas and specialist skills, to grow their research relationships through collaboration and mentorship, and to work towards a major research funding proposal.  Think of the AREF Fellowship as a stepping-stone to achieving competitive research funding and opportunities in the future.

An AREF Fellowship supports a developmental placement of three-to-nine months in a leading research organisation in Europe or Africa with time either side of the placement for preparation and follow-up.

The maximum award is 40,000 GB Pounds.  The length of the Fellowship and actual amount awarded will depend on detailed and persuasive justification provided by the applicant and the quality of the engagement of their employing and host institutions.

Applicants will need to demonstrate a credible, ambitious vision for their research on a human-health challenge for Africa; and a transformational, well-supported development plan that would be significantly enhanced by the Fellowship.

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans at an early stage with their employing and potential host organisations – so that the Fellowship can be a “win-win-win” for all three parties.

We are keen to receive high quality applications from both women and men; from diverse research disciplines – including social and economic sciences, veterinary (“one health”) researchers and clinically-active researchers; and from all the franco-, luso- and anglophone low-and-middle income regions of Sub-Saharan Africa.

New in 2017

Placements may be taken at a centre of excellence anywhere in Africa, extending the scope beyond South Africa and Europe including the UK.

Eligibility has been extended from four to five years postdoc for scientists: i.e. Fellowship awardees will need to have been awarded their PhDs after 30 June 2012 and before 1 July 2017.

AREF has introduced a new Cost & Finance spreadsheet to assist you calculate and present credible information about your proposed budget.


To hold an AREF Research Development Fellowship, you will need to meet the following eligibility criteria;

1. be a national of a country in sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa;

2. be a post-doctoral scientist with a PhD, with up to 5-years of active research experience on 1 July 2016; or be a clinician with a research-relevant Master’s degree and up to 3-years active research experience;

3. be working in an active research role at the time of applying, with a guarantee of employment with a university or other legally established research organisation based in sub-Saharan Africa for the duration of your fellowship; and

4. submit the required documentation, including declarations from your home and host sponsors detailing how they and their institutions will support your development as a researcher, if you receive an award.

5. In addition:

  • We welcome applicants who are already employed within a sub-Saharan African research organisation, or who would be returning to a position in such an organisation by the time they take up the AREF Fellowship having worked in a research active role abroad.
  • You may still be eligible even if your employing organisation is outside Sub-Saharan Africa provided that you have an appropriate honorary contract in the subregion and you are based at least 70% of your time in Africa.
  • AREF’s regulations do not yet permit the funding of Fellowships in South Africa.   This may change during 2017.  If this might affect you, you are welcome to ask us for an update.

Applicants must ensure that their Employing and intended Host Organisations (the sponsors) understand the purposes of the AREF Fellowship, how AREF will pay the organisations and what their obligations are if they accept an award.

Tips for success:
  • You need to articulate (i) a specific, important African health challenge, (ii) an original, potentially impactful and researchable question, and (iii) an understanding of the pertinent research methodologies / technologies to answer that question – and which capabilities you intend to develop. Many applications fail to be ambitious, original or feasible – or just lack specific details.
  • Be specific about the research you are aiming to do after the Fellowship: we ask you to define a research question and outline strategy.
  • Be specific about what you plan to do during the Fellowship, and how your planned activities will lead you towards addressing that research question and your career goals.
  • Engage as soon as possible with your own home institution so they actively support your application.  Your development towards independent thinking, new skills and grant support should be a “win” for them too.
  • Engage early with your intended academic host and the host institution: they need time to develop the right kind of support for your Fellowship ideas.
  • Ensure that the costs are clearly specified and are permitted by the Application Form Guidance.


The deadline is 1600 hours (GMT) on 28 June 2017.  Do not leave emailing your application until the last minute!

Our first awards will be announced December 2017.

Click here to apply

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