The AREF-CAN-PRECISE-RECAP Towards Leadership Programme                         

The Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) is delighted to announce the launch of the Towards Leadership Researcher and Leadership Development Programme in partnership with three Networks funded through the UK Global Challenges Research Fund.  These Networks are:

• The Crick African Network – click here
• The PRECISE Network – click here
• The RECAP Network – click here



The aim of the AREF Towards Leadership programme is to support the research capacity strengthening strategies of the three partner Networks.  Together we are investing in talented African scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa, enhancing their global health research and leadership potential.

In this first, pilot, year, AREF will deliver three residential workshops and complementary on-line learning for about 12 individual researchers selected by the three networks.

The curriculum is designed to support engage and enhance the participants’ own capabilities.  The programme is directed towards to winning grant funding, empowering effective teams, collaborating internationally, influencing stakeholders and building rewarding research careers.



Programme outline

The Programme comprises the following elements:

  • Three inspiring and practical residential 3-day workshops at quarterly intervals
  • Supplementary webinars, tutorials and on-line resources
  • Baseline and end-of-programme assessments and evaluation
  • Cooperation between participating individuals and institutions

The Programme has the following themes:

  • The effective researcher
  • The researcher as leader
  • The compelling applicant
  • The researcher as manager
  • The researcher as communicator

The five themes will be integrated across the three workshops.  The balance of the curriculum will be determined by the particular participants’ needs.

The costs of the workshops and associated by accommodation and travel of selected nominees will be met by the participating networks and AREF.


Key events

The timetable for all Towards Leadership participants is as follows:

Workshop 1 will immediately follow the PRECISE conference planned for 3-5th February.  Workshop 2 will precede the Crick African Network fellows meeting planned for 15-16th February.


Joining the Programme 

Entry to the Towards Leadership is through membership of one of the three partner networks.  Following an internal selection process, each partner will nominate individuals to AREF for confirmation.


Diversity and inclusion

The partners are keen to recruit talented researchers from a broad range of disciplines, including laboratory, clinical, behavioural, social, public health, economic, health systems, and environmental and mathematical sciences.  The participating networks are encouraged to ensure they nominate a balanced cohort of men and women to the programme.


  • A nominee should be a citizen of a country in Sub-Saharan Africa and working in research in the region.
  • They must be employed by an institution in one of the three partner networks.
  • Typically, nominees will have active research experience, with a track record of research-team leadership, production of quality (peer-reviewed) research outputs and competing for research funding.
  • They will have academic and other professional qualifications and experience that indicates they are likely to benefit from the programme. While a PhD and or research Masters training are desirable, we welcome as an alternative good evidence of progressive training and development as a professional researcher.
  • Applicants must be nominated to AREF by a participating network through the network’s designated process, using their prescribed application form.


  1. To be accepted to the Programme, nominees will need to demonstrate the potential to benefit themselves and their home institution. You will need in the application form to provide a persuasive personal statement of each of the following:
  • Your current research programme and the potential for it to make an impact on health
  • A compelling career vision and how you plan to achieve it
  • How you and your institution will benefit from participating in the AREF Towards Leadership
  1. Nominations must be accompanied by a supporting letter from an authorised senior representative of your employing institution, such the director. They should
  • confirm your eligibility.
  • confirm they authorise you to participate in all three workshops – that you will not be withdrawn to fulfil teaching, administration or other obligations
  • D=describe how they personally and the institution will recognise the benefits that participating in the programme brings – and how those benefits will be integrated and sustained within the organisation.
  1. Nominees must be fully committed to participating in all three workshops of the Programme; partial attendance is not an option.


Application timetable and steps:  

  1. Submit a completed application form (LDP2019-Application-Form_2019-10-05 FINAL) and supporting letter to Meriel by 16:00 GMT on Sunday 28th October 2019
  2. Your application will be reviewed in November and you will be informed of the outcome in mid-November.
  3. Once the cohort for Year 1 of the programme is established, AREF will circulate information about the course curriculum ahead of the first workshop in Johannesburg in February 2019.


Any questions?


For questions about PRECISE applications please contact Meriel Flint-O’Kane; (meriel.flint-o’

For general questions about the AREF Towards Leadership programme you are welcome to contact us at .



5 October 2018