What We Do



Science is flourishing in parts of Africa. Thanks to improved investment in PhD training programmes, a new generation of talented African health researchers is emerging. But this boosted training investment is not matched by opportunities for early-career researchers aiming to take the next steps and develop their own research ideas.

Many researchers cannot access essential opportunities needed to develop compelling research ideas, access world-class advisors and mentors, build and manage collaborations, win scarce funding and eventually to lead their own research team.

Carrier barriers like these obstruct transition from an emerging, postdoctoral researcher to an independently thinking researcher pursuing their own life-saving ambitions. It means many of the brightest young stars are being held back in their ambitions, tempted abroad or out of research and into other sectors.

This loss of talent is to Africa’s detriment, because African researchers are well equipped to meet the challenges of improving health in their country. Their linguistic knowledge, understanding of social and cultural challenges and appreciation of how technology can best be used gives them crucial expertise.


Hear from AREF’s talented health researchers about their hopes and dreams.

Dr Oluwafemi Akande, from Nigeria

Research topic: Building design on environmental health – https://youtu.be/8M1QSrhI-Os

Dr El Hadji Niang de Senegal

Sujet de recherche: Malaria vector genetics – https://youtu.be/1NMI5SkMKQA

Dr Seraphine Esemu, from Cameroon

Research topic: Buruli ulcer – https://youtu.be/iV9uaw49M4A

Dr Seynabou Sougoufara from Senegal

Research topic: Malaria transmission – https://youtu.be/PlHLg0W8tdg

Dr El Hadji Niang, from Senegal

Research topic: Malaria vector genetics – https://youtu.be/263oKmiakxA


Nurturing the next generation of leaders

To stem the loss of young talent, our focus is on supporting emerging health researchers on the early steps of their career ladder – those who have received their PhD within the last six years.

We provide outstanding postdoctoral researchers with great opportunities to strengthen technical and transferable skills, extend their professional relationships, and develop high-quality and competitive research ideas and proposals to become tomorrow’s leaders.


Please read more about our programmes and how you can join us:


My involvement and commitment to Health Research, building capacity and training future scientists, resulted in a concern for those who complete their PhD. They need an enabling environment, infrastructure, funding and mentoring to grow in research and become leading African scientists. AREF, an African initiated, African led and for African scientists has answered that concern.

Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke
Heroine of Health 2018
Emeritus Professor; DSc Honoris Causa University of Ghana 2014
Holder: African Union 2011 Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award for Women
Honorary International Fellow, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, ASTMH 2015
Board Chair (PCA), National Medical Research Institute, IMPM, Cameroon