AREF Research Development Fellowships 2022/2023

Deadline: 22 September 2022

Deadline: 22 September 2022

Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) is welcoming applications for the AREF Research Development Fellowships 2022/2023.The aim of the Research Development Fellowship Programme is to provide opportunities for talented health researchers based in Africa, so that they can lead research that is responsive to its African settings and can contribute to reducing the burden of disease. It aims to develop emerging African scientists through developing their skills, experience, confidence and research outputs.

Established in 2015 with a goal developing a community of African health researchers into leaders and experts who can address health issues both locally and globally, AREF through its work supports researchers at the early stages of their careers, offering training, leadership development and funding. Fellowships offer awardees the opportunity to develop their own research ideas, research skills and capabilities, to grow their research relationships through collaboration and mentorship, and to work towards a substantial research funding proposal.

The maximum period for the AREF Research Development Fellowships 2022/2023 is 15 months broken down as follows:

  • Maximum 3 month preparatory period
  • Maximum 9 month placement
  • Maximum 3 month follow up period

The Program scope includes infectious and non-communicable diseases that are significant and/or identified as “neglected” in Africa.

Benefits of AREF Research Development Fellowships 2022/2023

Applicants can ask for a maximum of:

  • £22,000 for a Fellowship with a 3-month placement
  • £32,000 for a Fellowship with a 6-month placement
  • £40,000 for a Fellowship with a 9-month placement

Mentorship support

AREF’s Research Development includes mentorship support as follows:

  • Training for Fellows in good mentor,mentee,mentorship practices. This includes engaging with a potential mentor, being a good mentee and becoming a great mentor to the next generation.
  • Support Fellows to manage your own mentoring relationships, including identifying a mentor, the first meeting – defining and agreeing the relationship, sustaining the relationship and, where appropriate exiting it.
  • To promote peer-mentoring across the cohort of Fellows.

Seed Funds

Towards the end of the Research Development Fellowship programme, AREF will hold a Seed Fund competition to award between two and five awards of up to £50,000.

The Seed Fund will give Fellows the opportunity to develop pilot data for a larger grant proposal, refine their research questions and develop, adapt or validate innovative methods and data collection.


By the end of the placement, we expect Fellows to provide evidence of outcomes including:-

  • Being a more effective researcher
  • Developing their own research ideas
  • Submitting applications and winning funding
  • Disseminating their findings with impact
  • Leading effective collaborative teams.

Long term, AREF’s Fellows will be better equipped to shape health research in Africa and globally to improve health and save lives by tackling emerging and persistent infectious diseases or the rising threat from chronic, non-communicable diseases.


Applicants must demonstrate that they have chosen to focus their career on research and are progressing on the pathway to become, but are not fully established as, independent researchers, with the potential to lead research that is original and innovative. This can be demonstrated through their employment, training, research experience and outputs.

Nationality and residency

  • Applicants must be a national of a country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Applicants need not be resident in Africa at the time of applying, provided that the application is officially supported by an African institution that meets the eligibility criteria for an Employing Organisation and confirms that it intends to employ you locally.


  • Applications must be working at least 20% Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) in an active research role; and EITHER
  • Have guaranteed employment with a legally established research organisation or a university in Sub-Saharan Africa for the duration of the Fellowship, OR
  • Have guarantee of employment at a centre of research excellence outside Africa and an honorary contract with a legally established research organisation or university in Sub-Saharan Africa for the duration of the Fellowship, with at least 70% of the time based in Africa.

Academic qualifications

Individuals with the following qualifications may apply:

  • Clinicians and non-clinicians with a PhD qualification or equivalent postgraduate degree(DPh/DPhil/MD) in a health-related subject from a recognised institution of higher education or,
  • Clinicians with a specialist clinical qualification but not a doctorate. Must have an MBBS or equivalent and a specialist clinical qualification. Examples of specialist clinical qualifications are FRCP, FWACP or equivalent or,
  • Clinicians with a Masters degree but not a doctorate. Must have an MBBS or equivalent and the Masters must have contained a research component. We would expect a plan to gain a PhD or equivalent doctorate (although not funded as part of the AREF Fellowship).
  • If you are in the process of completing your PhD or advanced qualification, you must provide evidence that a recognised examining institution expects you to have been examined for the degree by September 2022. You will not be able to take up the Fellowship without the confirmation of your degree.

Research experience

While there is no clear definition of an ECR, we expect most ECRs will be within six years of their research (normally PhD) qualification. However, we recognise that career pathways differ and your research career may have been interrupted, for example, you may have taken time off for caring responsibilities.

Applicants should:

  • Have been research active for the majority of their post-doctoral career (post-Masters for clinicians), as evidenced by their employment history and research outputs.
  • Have at least three years’ research experience, but normally not more than ten, with significant research outputs (most successful applicants have at least three first author publications).
  • Not have won a substantial research grant equivalent to GBP £300,000 and above.
  • Not have other significant research funding/fellowship commitments for the duration of the AREF fellowship. This is to ensure there is sufficient time to devote to the Fellowship (in the region of 80% FTE for the duration of the placement).

Equality and diversity

 Equality and diversity are core values of AREF and we encourage applications by scientists irrespective of gender, marital status, colour, race, creed or ethnicity.

We strongly welcome eligible applicants from Francophone and Lusophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as from Anglophone countries of the region.

Language competency

  • If you have less than one academic year of scientific training conducted in English, you will need to provide evidence with your application that you meet the standards of language competency required by the Host Organisation.
  • Previous AREF applicants and awardees
  • Previous AREF Research Development Fellows and AREF-EDCTP Preparatory Fellows are not eligible for the current Programme.
  • Participants at AREF workshops and researcher/leadership development programmes can apply if they meet the eligibility criteria.
  • If you have previously applied for an AREF Research Development Fellowships or an AREFEDCTP Preparatory Fellowship and it was unsuccessful, please contact AREF at before submitting an application.

Host Organisation (HO) eligibility

To host an AREF Research Development Fellow, the HO must:

  • Be in Africa or Europe, including the United Kingdom.
  • Be an academic institution or a research-oriented industry or a policy-making organisation.
  • You may propose a placement or part of a placement in non-academic institutions, such as international health policy organisations and research-intensive commercial organisations (e.g. a pharmaceutical company). If you are considering applying for a placement in a nonacademic organisation, please contact AREF at an early stage to discuss your
  • Be a legal entity constituted under the national law of the country where it is based.
  • Have a track record of being engaged in world-class research and/or its translation into products, policies or practices to the benefit of the public.
  • Be in receipt of substantial, international, competitive (peer-reviewed) research funding.
  • Make available all reasonable pastoral care to the Fellow.
  • Ensure that the Fellow is able to participate fully in the intellectual life of the Host Organisation and is enabled to make effective use of the opportunities funded by the Fellowship or by the organisation itself.
  • Make all reasonable efforts to realise opportunities for continuing mutually beneficial collaboration with the Fellow.
  • Possess capacity, including financial capacity, to support and implement the proposed programme of activities.
  • Be able to accept the terms and conditions of the award and manage the Fellowship funds in accordance with the terms and conditions, including ensuring appropriate processes are put in place to administer funds to the Fellow and, if applicable, to the Employing Organisation.

Employing Organisation (EO) eligibility

The EO must:

  • Be a ‘not-for-profit’ research organisation operating in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Be a legal entity constituted under the national law of the country where it is based.
  • Have the financial capacity to support the programme as set out in the proposal.
  • Possess capacity to support and implement the proposed programme of activities.
  • Work with the HO to support the Fellow to achieve the specified Fellowship outputs and outcomes.
  • Provide a guarantee to continue to pay the Fellow’s salary and agreed benefits under the AREF Fellow’s current contract until the end of their AREF Fellowship, including while on placement. This includes also a guarantee to provide scientific and administrative support to allow them to undertake the Fellowship successfully.
  • Be able to accept the terms and conditions of the award and manage any Fellowship funds awarded to the institution in accordance with the terms and conditions, including having appropriate processes to administer funds to the Fellow and, where applicable, to the HO.

 Failure to support a Fellow may result in the early termination of the Fellowship award and further payments to the institution being cancelled. AREF will complete due diligence checks on the grant and financial management capacity of awardee institutions. A Fellow will not become an employee of AREF or of the Host Organisation by virtue of the AREF Research Development Fell

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