About Us



The Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) is a charitable trust established in 2015 by the Medical Research Foundation.

AREF’s mission is to improve the quality and impact of health research in Africa by nurturing African-led research in and for the region. Our initial focus is on giving talented postdoctoral health researchers in Sub-Saharan Africa access to the knowledge and skills they need to become leading scientists.

Our vision is growing a community of African researchers working in Africa, who lead and partner world-class research that benefits patients, populations, policy makers and practitioners.

Many young researchers in the region face a lack of opportunities, skills and mentorship essential to winning funding for their ideas, progressing to research independence and eventual leadership.  AREF’s strategy has three pillars:

  • To provide stepping-stones awards and training at vulnerable career stages that develop researchers’ knowledge, skills and experience – focusing on the early outcome of applying for grants and winning support.
  • To attract new funding into research capacity strengthening, including from philanthropic foundations and individuals.
  • To work in partnership, leveraging complementary knowledge and resources – being stronger together.


We must invest in promising young African scientists, they are the innovators and leaders that will transform our continent’s health. The African Research Excellence Fund is Africa-based, African-led, for African scientists and we are all committed to African health. It is an important initiative.

Kofi Annan


You can be part of our vision and help us achieve it. Please read more about our programmes and how you can get involved:

AREF Launch case for support
AREF Strengthening health research capacity in Africa for Africa
AREF Research Development Fellowship
AREF Essential Grant Writing Skills Workshops