Two Ghanaian scientists have been selected for the first Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship.
The fellowship is a prestigious program designed to support local scientists who are working towards developing innovations to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and other global health priorities.
The two Ghanaians, Dr. Anita Ghansah of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), and and Dr. Yaw Bediako of the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP), are among 14 African fellow drawn from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and Mali.
The fellow will each receive $1 million over a period of five years.
Besides the funding, the program will provide networking opportunities and access to training in critical non-scientific skills.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which launched the fellowship also announced at the 17th Grand Challenges Annual Meeting that it is committing $50 million towards a new initiative, the Grand Challenges Global Call to Action which is a 10-year initiative that will prioritize grants to scientists from low- and middle-income countries, and support a balanced representation of women principal investigators to build a global health infrastructure where scientific innovation will reach everyone.
Dr. Bediako’s research would look at ‘Investigating the Immune Kinetics of COVID-19 Vaccine Responses Between European and African Populations’, while Dr. Anita Ghansah’s work will be in the area of ‘Rapid Clinical Sampling, Pooling and Targeted Deep Sequencing of Malaria Parasites: A Novel Model for Effective Malaria Molecular Surveillance.’
About Dr. Ghansah
Her career began at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Ghana, where she trained in the parasitology department to apply basic molecular biology tools to identify the malaria parasite.
She continued to work there until she enrolled in a PhD program in LSTMH. Now back at NMIMR, she takes pride in seeing her trainees excelling in independent and team work.
She is particularly proud of her female trainees who now present at international conferences and are pursuing their own advanced degrees around the world.
She has supervised and co-supervised 9 MPhil and 1 PhD students and mentored 20 interns, WACCBIP and DELGEME students.
About Dr. Bediako
He grew up in Ghana, and has particular interest in immune responses to infectious pathogens that disproportionately impact people in LICs.
He completed undergrad at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and graduate studies at Northwestern University.
His long-term goal is to establish himself as an independent researcher in Ghana.
He accepted appointment as research fellow at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the University of Ghana.
He’s passionate about promoting development of scientific capacity in Africa, and believes private sector and private research companies are important to establishing self-sustainable research in Africa, and sees private biotech as the next step in evolution of scientific capacity building efforts.
He founded Yemaachi Biotechnology, an immunogenics biotech startup based in Accra focused on leveraging genomic, immunological and computational techniques to provide diagnostic tools, immunotherapies and digital genomics services.
The COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity for Yemaachi to demonstrate capacity.
They received grant from the Google Community Fund to support joint initiative between WACCBIP and Yemaahchi: Sequencing for COVID Mitigation in Ghana.