Africa Research Excellence Fund - Research development fellowship 2021

September 23, 2021

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PostDOC Fellowship & Research

Location (s):

  • Worldwide
Europe or Africa


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


Aim of the programme

The RDF Programme aims to develop emerging African scientists who are working on important challenges for human health in Africa, growing their skills, experience, confidence and research outputs.

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

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



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.

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:

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 (at the time of the application deadline) -awarded a PhD or equivalent postgraduate degree from a recognised institution of higher education.
  • 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 2021. You will not be able to take up the Fellowship without having been awarded a doctorate by a recognized and reputable academic institution.

Academic qualifications (clinican):

  • Clinician with a PhD. Essential: Clinically-qualified applicants with a PhD/DPh/MD should have been awarded the doctorate from a recognised institution of higher education within the last six years.
  • Clinican with a Masters degree but not a doctorate. Essential: You must have a Masters degree and at least three and not more than seven years of active research experience. Experience both before and after gaining a Masters qualification counts towards the experience total. You will normally have plans to gain a PhD or equivalent doctorate (although not funded as part of the AREF Fellowship).
  • Clinican with a specialist clinical qualification but not a doctorate. Essential: You must have an MD, MBBS or equivalent and a specialist clinical qualification. Examples of specialist clinical qualifications are FRCP, FWACP or equivalent. You must also have at least three and not more than seven years of active research experience. You may have plans to gain a PhD or equivalent doctorate (although not funded as part of the AREF Fellowship).

If you have previously submitted an application to AREF and it was unsuccessful, please contact AREF before starting an application.

Diversity and Inclusivity

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


Deadline: September 23, 2021

Cost/funding for participants:

What does the fellowship include?

  • The RDF Programme supports 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 £40,000 (GB Pounds).
  • 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.
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