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Europe builds links with African researchers

EDCTP and EFPIA launch fellowship scheme for Africans to spend time at European pharma firms

Richard Bergstrom EFPIA and Charles Mgone EDCTP

Researchers based in Africa will have the opportunity to spend time with a European-based pharma company as part of a new agreement between two industry bodies.

The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) are offering fellowships to African researchers to allow them to spend up to two years in Europe developing skills in clinical trial research.

According to a joint statement, the aim of the programme, which is also supported by the directorate-general for research and innovation of the European Commission, is to promote the capacity for researchers in Africa to conduct clinical trials that comply with international standards.

Fellowships will be awarded through open calls for proposals published by the EDCTP, which was set up in 2003 to accelerate R&D of new or improved healthcare interventions, with a focus on encouraging European companies to conduct clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa.

The organisation will then select suitable candidates to go to Europe, with the final selection of fellows to be decided together with the pharmaceutical companies involved.

Richard Bergström, director general of trade body EFPIA, described the scheme as a “great opportunity” for both researchers in Africa and the European pharmaceutical industry.

He said: “EFPIA's members will benefit from interaction with African scientists from diverse backgrounds beneficial to the development of new or improved treatments in poverty-related diseases.

“We hope to help them acquire skills relevant to achieving their research and professional goals”.

The EDCTP's executive director Professor Charles Mgone was similarly enthusiastic about the benefits for both parties, in particular how the training can be applied to tackle conditions prevalent in Africa, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

He said: “It is critical that more African researchers are sufficiently trained and equipped with skills and expertise in clinical trials research in the fight against diseases that severely impact the social and economic development of sub-Saharan Africa.”

Further information will be available to interested pharma companies in February, with the first call for applications to launch in the last quarter of 2013.

30th January 2013

From: Research

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