Developing the next cohort of African scientists with the Excell Programme

July 2018


The Excell Researcher and Leadership Development programme kicked off with the official launch event and the first experiential workshop in May 2018. Over four days, 20 participants from 6 carefully selected institutions in Africa shared ideas, researchers’ needs and career goals.

“The aim of the Excell programme,” said Peter Dukes – AREF Deputy Director, “is to transform the research leadership capabilities of the Partner Institutions and their nominated Fellows so as to enhance the research capacity of global health in Africa for Africa.”


The principal themes of the Excell programme are:


1. The Researcher as Leader: led by Anthony Kasozi and Emma Mairs
2. The Effective Researcher: led by Dr Hazel McCullough
3. The Compelling Applicant: led by Dr Jane Kengeya-Kayondo
4. The Researcher as Manager: led by Dr Roger Tatoud
5. The Responsible Researcher: led by Peter Dukes


Dr Fred Wabwire-Mangen – Institutional Lead for Makerere University (Uganda) said “I really feel that AREF is going out of its way to work with the six partner institutions in supporting our rising stars. The programme gives the institutional leads, like me, a lot of responsibility to integrate the Excell programme into our strategies for strengthening research capacity. Doing that will also help sustain the benefits of the developmental training that our four Fellows will experience over the next 18 months.”

“The entire APHRC team has taken ownership of the Excell project,” says Evelyn Gitau, the Institutional Lead from the Africa Population Health Research Centre (Kenya), “And working with the other five African partners gives us a great opportunity to share strategies aimed at developing our fellows, institutions and countries as a whole“.


Guests at the formal launch event included the Honourable Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of State to the President of the Republic of Senegal, attending in a private capacity as a member of the AREF Advisory Panel; His Excellency Ebrima Ousmane Ndure, the Ambassador of the Republic of The Gambia to the Republic of Senegal; and Professor Souleymane Mboup, Director of the Institut de Recherché en Santé, de Surveillance Epidémiologique et de Formations (IRESSEF) Dakar.

The Gambian Ambassador presented AREF with 20 sets of hand-made cuff-links that he had designed, to be used to raise funds for AREF (e.g. auctioning at events); he promised a further 20 sets.

Following the launch, the first workshop began in earnest with a focus on the first two themes of the Programme, The Researcher as Leader and The Effective Researcher, led by Emma Mairs and Dr Hazel McCullough respectively. Learning was mediated predominantly through group work in addition to participants individually reviewing and developing their personal development and career plans.


“Little beginning in the right direction has a great potential to direct the course of tomorrow” said Oyetunde Salawu – A participant from the University of Benin (Nigeria) when asked about the expected impact of his participation in Excell.


The next workshop is scheduled to be held from the 1st – 3rd October 2018 at the Møller Centre in Cambridge, UK.