AREF Research Development Fellowships 2016

April 2016

AREF Research Development Fellowships 2016

The Africa Research Excellence Fund is pleased to announce its second annual call for applications for AREF Research Development Fellowships.  The aim of the Programme is to enhance the research competitiveness of early-career African researchers who have research leadership potential and are working on important challenges for human health in Africa.

The Fellowship is designed to enable talented, early-career African 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.  The Fellowship is designed to be a stepping-stone towards more substantial research funding.

Each AREF Fellowship will support a developmental placement of three-to-nine months in a leading research organisation in Europe or South Africa.

The details are similar to those of the 2015 competition.  However, an innovation for 2016, based on feedback last year from potential and actual applicants, is that some funding will be available for a “planned follow-through” in the awardee’s employing institution after she or he has returned from their placement.

The maximum award is 43,000 GB Pounds.  The length of the placement and actual amount awarded will depend on the detailed justification provided by the applicant actively supported by 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.

Applications with an ambitious, developmental plan that prepares the way for the applicant to tackle a challenging research question with further grant or fellowship funding will be more successful than those that seek just to pack a conventional research project and some training into nine months abroad.  The applicants must own their plans themselves, while demonstrating they have the support of key individuals on whom their success will depend.

While the Fellowship is designed as a stepping-stone for individuals, AREF wishes to enable their African home institutions to grow and succeed by nurturing their research talent.  Potential applicants are therefore 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 franco-, luso- and anglophone low-and-middle income countries of Africa.

Guidance for applicants and the application form can be downloaded here:

We have issued new guidance for the Employing and the Host organisations that are sponsoring an applicant.  It summarises what AREF will pay for, what it will not, and how it will pay the organisations.  Most funds to go to the Host because that is where most of the expenditure lies.  The guidance can be downloaded from the following link:

The deadline for receipt of applications is 1600 hours (GMT) on 6 July 2016. Our first awards will be announced December 2016.

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

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

2. be a post-doctoral scientist with a PhD, with up to 4-years of active research experience on 1 July 2016; or be an active clinician with a 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 in Africa for the duration of your fellowship; and

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

We welcome applicants who are already employed within a African research organisation (excluding South Africa), 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.

Tips for success:

Last year’s competition showed that success depended on the following:

  • Being specific about how you would use an AREF Fellowship as a stepping stone to a more substantial grant or fellowship – in the context of an ambitious and feasible career-development plan.
  • Engaging with your own home institution – so that your development towards independent thinking and new skills would be a win for them too.
  • Early and thorough engagement with your intended host and their organisation, so that the plan is ambitious, credible and well-supported.
  • A strong grounding in (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 where you need to develop your own capabilities.

Don’t forget: The deadline is 1600 hours (GMT) on 6 July 2016.  Do not leave emailing your application until the last minute!