EDCTP-AREF Preparatory Fellowships



The Call for applications for the joint AREF-EDCTP Programme of Preparatory Fellowships is now closed.  The following information is now for your information only, and some the links may not function.  Awards will be announced in 2018.

A full description, outline of the application procedure and terms and conditions can be found on EDCTP’s website.

Applications will only be accepted via EDCTPgrants. Only registered users of EDCTPgrants system can apply, therefore you are advised to register on the system as soon as possible.



The objectives of this call are to:

1 – Enable outstanding African researchers (0 to 3-year post-PhD or MD) to:

  • Further advance their research skills, through short-course(s) and hands-on training, preferably using biological samples and/or data they or their home organisations have already generated.
  • Strengthen their competencies in project and proposal design and expand their professional networks.
  • Enhance essential “generic/transferable researcher skills” that have the outcomes of secure research relationships, impactful research outputs and effective use of fellowship/grant opportunities and funding.
  • Contribute to growing the community of researchers optimally equipped with knowledge and skills to address local research needs.

2 – Enable individuals to deploy their own scientific excellence, resourcefulness and research relationships to best effect in competing for early/mid-career Fellowships, such as (but not only) the AREF Research Development Fellowships.

3 – Enhance career development and early retention of postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate global health researchers in research in and for sub-Saharan Africa.

4 – To provide a firm foundation and increase the quality, efficiency and impact of fellowship projects funded by organisations such as AREF and EDCTP.


Application Procedure

This is a two-stage application procedure. For the first stage, a letter of intent must be submitted by the fellow with a letter of support from the applicant legal entity (home organisation employing the fellow) by 13 October 2017 via EDCTPgrants.

The letters of intent will be reviewed by an independent evaluation committee comprising experts jointly identified by the EDCTP and AREF. Up to 36 successful candidate fellows will be shortlisted in the first stage and invited to a preparatory workshop led, organised and financed by AREF. Short-listing results of the first stage are expected to be made available by 12 January 2018. Participation by shortlisted applicants in the preparatory workshop is recommended but is not obligatory: all 36 shortlisted candidates will be eligible to proceed to the second stage.

For the second stage, the shortlisted fellows and their home organisations (applicant legal entities) must submit a comprehensive training and development plan (including a draft re-integration plan) by 14 March 2018.The plans will be evaluated by the independent evaluation committee.  The EDCTP and AREF aim to announce the awards of 12 Preparatory Fellowships by 4 August 2018.

Preparatory Workshop – 12 to 14 March 2018

The Preparatory Workshop for shortlisted applicants will take place on a date and at a venue to be announced in due course. The workshop will bring together 36 African early career researchers, selected competitively following the joint EDCTP-AREF Preparatory Fellowship Call.

The workshop will aim to build participants’ generic grant-writing knowledge and skills, including how they can make a convincing case for their research ideas, formulate a persuasive research question, and present their research design and methodology in a manner that assures reviewers that the research question will be optimally answered and that they and their team are well positioned to carry out the research in terms of the skills mix, the institutional support and resources available and the budget they have requested.

The workshop will cover laboratory, clinical, population and other disciplines as specified in the Call. The workshop will focus on how to present the case for a research project with human-health outcomes, reflecting AREF’s remit. Recognising the focus of the EDCTP, clinical research/trials sessions will be included. While not providing comprehensive and detailed training in clinical trial design and implementation, the workshop will cover the presentation in a research proposal of ethical and participant safety considerations, clinical trial operations, study and site management, clinical data management and statistics, as well as communication and teamwork approaches for clinical trials.

The experienced team of facilitators will mainly use practical, participatory learning approaches and will support participants in improving their confidence in grant-writing and understanding of peer review.

The workshop will not provide support to individual participants on their own application for the EDCTP-AREF Preparatory Fellowship. By the end of the workshop, participants should be able to prepare their own competitive grants for support by national and international health research funders.



The scope of this competition will include infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases that are significant sub-Saharan Africa. AREF is keen to attract excellent proposals on important neglected diseases, in particular on chronic ill-health and mental health.

AREF prioritises the following research methodologies and technologies applied to human health research problems:

  • advanced medical statistics
  • medical bioinformatics
  • biomedical computational modelling
  • molecular biology and omics technologies for health
  • other advanced, laboratory-based biomedical sciences
  • quantitative and qualitative social sciences for health
  • public health interventions
  • economics for health
  • “one-health” with clear potential to advance human health

Eligible activities

Applicants should keep the following in mind:

  • The purpose of the Fellowship is developmental: i.e. for developing a future project and competitive grant or fellowship proposal. It is NOT a small project grant.
  • Awardees will undertake a tailored programme of developmental activities that is likely to include a specified advanced short course (research methods / technologies); hands-on supervised methods/technical training; generic/transferable researcher skills training; activities to build and strengthen research relationships internationally, interactions with research-users; preparing findings for publication; and proposal development.
  • Collecting or otherwise generating substantial new datasets will not be funded.
  • However, limited new collection or generation of data is permitted, as are preparation and transfer of samples and data-sets to the host environment, with the purpose of enabling training and pilot work, e.g. to validate a novel method or technique, to demonstrate feasibility or generate data to inform the design of the future project.

Eligible applicants

The applicant must be an organisation with an established legal entity in sub-Saharan Africa (the applicant legal entity).

The fellow must be employed or have guaranteed employment by the applicant legal entity (the home organisation) where they intend to remain working for a minimum of two years after the expiration of the grant.

Fellows must:

  • be a post-doctoral scientist
  • have been awarded their doctorate within 3 years before submission deadline of the EDCTP-AREF Preparatory Fellowship application
  • have been either a PhD student or MD, and have been active researchers for up to three years following award of their doctorate
  • be resident of or be willing to relocate to a sub-Saharan African country
  • not have been funded under this fellowship scheme or similar scheme (previous AREF fellows are ineligible) before.


AREF is not intending to launch a fourth programme of stand-alone fellowships programme in 2018.


If you have any questions relating to the Call, please contact us via email or using our online form. For any assistance with the online application submission process via EDCTPgrants, please contact edctpgrants@edctp.org for technical support.  NOTE THIS CALL IS NOW CLOSED.