Africa Research Excellence Fund Research Development Fellowship 2020

The AREF Research Development Fellowship (RDF) Programme is being launched to support African researchers who are working on important challenges for human health in Africa.

Programme Overview

The Programme Aim: To support researchers in Africa who are emerging leaders and are working on important challenges for human health to develop their skills as a researcher.

What we offer: A three to nine-month placement at a leading research institution in Europe or Africa, with additional support at your home institution before and after the placement, up to a maximum of £38,000.

Who is eligible: Research active post-doctoral scientists and clinicians who are nationals of and employed in Sub-Saharan Africa who were awarded their doctorate after May 2014; and clinicians without a doctorate but who have a research-relevant Master’s degree and at least two and up to seven years active research experience.

How to apply: Read the information below, and download the Application Form, Information for Applicants and Cost & Finance Spreadsheet, and email to Fellowships.AREF@aref-africa.org.uk before 12:00 GMT 23 September 2020


The AREF RDF Programme aims to enhance the research competitiveness of emerging African researchers who are working on important challenges for human health in Africa. In 2020, these challenges will include infectious disease and non-communicable diseases. AREF’s goal is to transform the opportunities for up to 15 talented postdoctoral scientists in Africa in 2020 to contribute to reducing the burden of disease through leading research that is responsive to African settings.

The RDF Programme enables talented early-career researchers to:

  • acquire advanced research skills
  • develop and test their own compelling research questions
  • develop highly effective mentoring relationships
  • grow their potential collaborations
  • raise their profile through international networking


The RDF Programme will support a placement of between three to nine months for each Fellow at a leading research organisation in Europe or Africa, with time either side of the placement for preparation and follow-up.  This aims to promote development of technical skills, collaborations and networks. The RDF Programme does NOT provide Fellows with funds for a whole research project; it focuses on developing researcher skills.

The maximum award for the fellowship placement is £38,000 (GB Pounds). Additionally, AREF will fully fund all workshops and mentorship support costs associated with the programme. Applicants will need to demonstrate a credible, ambitious vision for their research career in an area of human-health challenge for Africa; and a transformational, well-supported development plan that would be significantly enhanced by the RDF Programme. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans at an early stage with their employing and potential host organisations.

Equality and diversity are core values of AREF and we encourage applications by scientists irrespective of gender, colour, race, or creed.  We strongly welcome eligible applicants from francophone and lusophone countries as well as from anglophone countries.


Eligibility and guidance

To be eligible, applicants must be a national of a country in Sub-Saharan Africa. You need not be resident in Africa at the time of applying, provided that your application is officially supported by an African institution that meets the eligibility criteria for an employing institution and which attests that it intends to employ you locally.

Academic qualifications:

  • Non-clinician. Essential: PhD qualification within the last six years – awarded a PhD or equivalent postgraduate degree from a recognised institution of higher education after May 2014.

If you do not currently have a PhD, you must provide evidence that a recognised examining institution expects you to have been examined for the degree of PhD/DPh by September 2020. You will not be able to take up the Fellowship without having been awarded a doctorate by a recognized and reputable academic institution.

  • Clinician. Essential: Clinically-qualified applicants with a PhD/DPh/MD should have been awarded the doctorate from a recognised institution of higher education after May 2014.

Clinically-qualified applicants without a doctorate may apply.  They must have been awarded a research-relevant  Master’s degree. They should also have at least two and not more than seven years of active research experience.  Experience both before and after gaining the Master’s qualification counts towards the experience total.  They will normally have plans to gain a PhD or equivalent doctorate (although not funded as part of the AREF Fellowship). Medical College memberships and fellowships are not counted as doctorates.


Guidance for applicants, the application form and finance and cost plan can be downloaded here:


Applicants must ensure that their Employing and intended Host Organisations (the sponsors) understand the purposes of the AREF Fellowship, how AREF will pay the organisations and what their obligations are if they accept an award.


Tips for success:

  • Communicate a clear and compelling vision of what you want to achieve:  How will the Fellowship impact on your career, your ability develop the next research project, and your organisation’s research capacity?
  • Be specific about what you want to do at each step of the Fellowship.  Many applications fail because they are vague or badly thought out.
  • Justify the particular training and conference:  Identify and explain why you have chosen those particular activities.
  • Engage as soon as possible with your home institution so they actively support your application.
  • Engage early with your intended academic host and the host institution: they need time to develop the right kind of support for the Fellowship.
  • Work out what costs are likely to be using available sources of information.



This call CLOSES at 12:00 hours (GMT) on 23 September 2020.

The awards will be announced at the end of 2020.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Africa Research Excellence Fund Research Development Fellowship 2020


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