Our staff



The Africa Research Excellence Fund operates from the Gambia, Uganda and London. We have a small dedicated team determined to make a difference:

Professor Tumani Corrah CBE MRG

Professor Corrah, who is Gambian, has over thirty years of progressively senior-level research and leadership experience, ten years of which were as the Unit Director of the Medical Research Council’s Unit, the Gambia. He is medically qualified and has retained active research interests in tropical and infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. Professor Corrah is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and is a member of over twenty scientific board and committee groups worldwide. He is the Emeritus Director of the MRC Unit in The Gambia where he also leads the MRC’s Africa Research Development Office.

Dr Peter Dukes
Deputy Director

Dr Peter Dukes works with Professor Corrah on the development of AREF’s strategy and policy, and is responsible for developing the Awards and Academy Programmes for emerging researchers. He is also a member of the MRC’s Africa Research Development Office. Originally trained as a parasitologist, Dr Dukes carried out research in Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Nigeria. He has held various senior research management posts since 1990 at the Medical Research Council in London.  He is now based in the Gambia and UK.

Sulayman Janneh
Fellowships Manager

Sulayman’s role as Fellowships Manager is to develop and manage the processes for delivering the AREF Research Development Fellowships. He is on secondment to AREF from the Research Support Office of the MRC Unit, The Gambia. Sulayman is from The Gambia and has worked and lived in USA, and The Gambia, assuming various roles in project management, finance and business development.

Maria Andrews
Head of Major Giving

Maria is a new business development professional, strategic marketer and fundraiser. Her career extends across the global advertising, marketing consultancy and the not for profit sector. Joining Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) aligns Maria’s experience with her values to enable people to gain skills and knowledge to make a difference in Africa.

Lamin Sanneh
Senior Administrative Assistant

Lamin’s key role as AREF’s Senior Administrative Assistant is to help manage and administer the AREF Research Development Fellowships and other Awards. Lamin is a Gambian and on secondment to AREF from the Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia.  He has significant experience in HR and project management.

Jarra Jallow
Administrative Assistant (internship)

Jarra provides administrative support for the award funding competitions and Academy workshops. She also acts as PA to the Director and Deputy Director. Jarra is from the Gambia with a BA Economics degree from the University of Leicester with a profound interest in charity work.

Maria Bellocci
Head of Operations

Maria joined AREF in June 2018 as the Head of Operations, Governance & Finance. Maria’s focus is operational efficiency and improvements and ensuring statutory compliance and effective budget management.

Prior to joining AREF, Maria worked for charity Whizz-Kidz. During her 11 years there she was responsible for customer services, procurement, budgets, M&E and NHS contracts. She was involved in organisational improvement projects and was an internal ISO auditor and the Responsible Individual for OFSTED.

Maria’s career has focused on service delivery throughout. Initially in the private sector and then in NHS and private healthcare projects. Evaluating and improving systems and processes is second nature to her and she loves the challenge of ensuring that the best service possible is provided.