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Promoting partnerships for the planet

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Our new funding call aims to address the health impacts of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Kelly Makarona, our Head of Research, spoke to Research Professional about why we're funding research in this area, and what researchers need to do to make their applications stand out. Read an extract of the interview below.

The grants are intended to support equitable, sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships... the scheme aims to put Africa at the centre, and that needs to be shown in the proposal.

Dr Kelly Makarona 1 Dr Kelly Makarona

Dr Kelly Makarona's top tips for applicants

  • Equitable partnerships must be at the centre of all bids
  • New researcher partnerships are welcome and the Foundation will offer support to help them solidify
  • Projects must have a sense of urgency and lay out a plan for application
  • Geographical location will be a consideration, as the Foundation wants to fund research across sub-Saharan Africa

Why did the Medical Research Foundation launch this call?

Climate change is a severe and continuing threat to human health globally. Everyone will be affected by it, but some are more vulnerable than others. Geographically speaking, despite being a comparatively small contributor to climate change, the countries in sub-Saharan Africa are among those that are more likely to be affected by the impacts of climate change. We undertook a scoping exercise—because the impact of climate change on health is one of our research priorities in our current strategy—and identified this area as a gap in the funding landscape.

How would you summarise the call?

This funding call will support collaborative research grants that are led by pairs of mid-career researchers in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK who are making the transition to research independence and seeking to progress in their field. Projects should aim to develop new collaborations or solidify existing partnerships. The scheme will support research that will increase our understanding of the mechanisms underpinning, and the processes involved in, the impact of climate change on health.

What support will the Medical Research Foundation offer successful applicants?

This opportunity really extends beyond the offer of funding. The Foundation is committed to supporting the career progression of its researchers by providing mentoring opportunities, training and networking events. Specifically for the recipients of these grants, we will give them access to a bespoke programme of support, which will include training to establish equitable partnerships before the projects begin. This is to make sure that they have the necessary knowledge to progress the equal partnerships. We will also enable cross-project support and collaborations by bringing together our award holders in a conference that will be held in Africa.

What would make a proposal stand out in this call?

There are two things. First, the grants are intended to support equitable, sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships. One-sided collaborations will not be supported, especially if it is one-sided from the UK. The scheme aims to put Africa at the centre, and that needs to be shown in the proposal. The two principal investigators are expected to equally contribute to the proposal design and equitably lead the proposed research. That really needs to come through.

The other important aspect of this call is that research proposals must have a view to action with a clear plan for how the results can be taken forward. This is in recognition of the urgency for climate-change action. The lead applicants of proposals should demonstrate that they have considered how the research can tackle aspects of climate change in the short and long term.

To apply, visit our funding call page.

This extract is from an interview with Research Professional. Read the full article here (paywall).

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