Africa NCD Open Lab

The GSK Africa Open Lab call for proposals...

Afica woman

GSK is pleased to announce a call for research proposals from outstanding African scientists based in research institutions or universities in Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal or Tanzania.

Awards offer up to two years of funding, with up to £100,000 available per award to cover the cost of an appropriate research project. A minimum of 10 awards will be funded.

The closing date for submitting applications will be 16:00 GMT on the 12th of January 2017.



GSK’s Africa NCD Open Lab was established in 2014 as part of a series of GSK strategic investments to provide long term support for scientific research in the field of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in sub Saharan Africa. The goal is to work in partnership with funders, researchers and academic groups to share expertise and resources to conduct research in Africa aimed at increasing scientific understanding of the unique attributes of NCDs.

In November 2014 the Open Lab launched its first call for proposals in eight African countries, with a total of £4 million made available to fund projects. In September 2015, a £5 million collaboration with the Medical Research Councils of the UK and South Africa was announced. This funding was used to launch a second call for proposals providing an opportunity to support researchers from South African institutions conducting research projects in NCDs.

Who is the call targeted at?

This third call for proposals is targeted at outstanding African scientists in the early stages of their research and academic careers based in research institutions or universities in the following countries: Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal and Tanzania.

Objectives of the call

  • To encourage research that will further the understanding of the specific variations of NCDs in African settings, to subsequently inform their prevention and effective management in African patients.
  • To provide support for researchers from African institutions at an early stage of their research career to develop their own competitive, independent research programmes and  careers as outstanding independent researchers.
  • To fund innovative NCD research projects by promising African scientists that will generate significant data to strengthen further funding proposals that could lead to additional more sizeable grant funding from other organisations in the longer term. 

What’s in Scope?

The programme’s aims are to fund rigorous, high quality research that will address disease mechanisms, epidemiology, pathophysiology and aetiology, or prevention and treatment of primary disease and associated complications in at least one of the following priority NCD areas: cardiovascular disease, oncology, chronic respiratory disease, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

Proposals can additionally:

  1. Examine the interplay between the priority NCD areas described above and infectious disease or the role of inflammation in these NCDs.
  2. Investigate the impact of other disease conditions common in sub Saharan Africa such as sickle cell disease on these priority NCDs.
  3. Involve NCDs in children and across the life course including those examining maternal health and the early origins of NCDs in the priority NCD areas.

Only primary research informed by the review of existing evidence and identified gaps will be funded. Proposals must demonstrate significant potential to inform or develop further research programmes.

What’s out of Scope?

Proposals focusing on drug development and public health interventions, or not covering NCDs in the priority areas described above, will not be accepted. 

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The applicant:

  1. Will be the principal investigator and must be an early career researcher, defined as a basic biomedical scientist, clinically qualified investigator or public health researcher, who has not previously competed successfully as principal investigator for a major research grant, and is no more than ten years from their highest degree of study (career breaks and time out of academic research will be taken into consideration).
  2. Must be currently employed by an eligible academic, health or research institution in Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal and Tanzania for the duration of the project.
  3. Must hold a PhD or equivalent higher degree (e.g. DrPH) in a health related discipline. Applicants pursuing a clinical academic career, who have not obtained a PhD, must have completed their specialist training in a relevant aspect of medicine and demonstrate relevant research experience (e.g. MSc with a research component).
  4. Must not currently hold positions above lecturer level or equivalent.
  5. Must demonstrate that they have a track record and ongoing commitment to health-related research and the skills and experience required to carry out the proposed work. Evidence of research output, including publications in peer reviewed journals and/or presentations at scientific conferences, is required.
  6. Must have a career development plan showing commitment to NCD research in Africa, of which support from relevant supervisors and mentors will be an important component. 

The institution:

  1. The head of department of the host organisation in which this award will be based must confirm that they support the application and that if funded, the research and training will be supported with appropriate space and facilities and administered in the name of the organisation.
  2. A local supervisor/mentor, with relevant research experience and output and evidence of previous funding employed in the institution of the applicant must confirm their support of the applicant and the proposed project. The supervisor does not have to be working in the field of NCDs to be eligible.

What’s included?

The award offers up to two years of funding. A total of up to £100,000 will be available per award.

  1. The call will offer funding to cover the costs of an appropriate research project including costs for equipment, field work and data collection, consumables and research assistance, travel to conferences, subsistence and conference fees.
  2. Funding is not provided for the applicants’ PhD/MD tuition fees. Funding may be requested for training activities relevant to achieving the aims of the project including short courses and training visits to relevant research institutions. All training requests must be fully justified in the application.
  3. In addition to financial support, GSK will provide scientific support throughout the duration of the award term.  The level of interaction will be determined through the application process and will be tailored to the individual needs of the project. GSK is exploring links with academic groups in the UK and leading African scientists to provide mentorship to successful applicants.
  4. GSK in collaboration with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) will offer up to 50 researchers from each shortlisted institution (those invited to submit full proposals) free access to the BMJ’s Research to Publication eLearning programme for 12 months. This programme provides six online courses with 48 modules aimed at supporting the academic writing of early career researchers.  
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Application process

How to apply

Please download and complete the preliminary application form available on our dedicated Africa NCD Open Lab website.

Submit the completed form as an attachment via the submission portal. The preliminary application must be accompanied by the CV of the principal applicant and a statement of support from the proposed supervisor/mentor as well as an institutional statement of commitment from the principal applicants’ Institution.

Before submitting an application you might wish to read through the Overview and Eligibility sections for guidance on general eligibility criteria and the scope of the call. You can contact us at any point while you are preparing your application if you have any questions about your proposal or suitability for the scheme using the contact details provided. 

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Review process

Review process

Applications for research grants will be subject to a 2 stage review process. Completed preliminary applications will be assessed by a scientific panel including leading African scientists and therapeutic area experts and academics from other UK institutions. Only those assessed as competitive will be invited to submit a full application. Decisions will be made based on the suitability of the candidate and the strength of the application. Please note that we will not provide written feedback for unsuccessful applications at the preliminary stage.

Reviewers will typically assess:

  • The eligibility of the applicant
  • The scientific merit of the proposed project
  • The significance of the research
  • The potential for scaling up the research
  • The suitability of the local supervisor/mentor and the host organisation to support the development of the applicant to become an independent researcher.

Scientific support

Relevant independent scientific support by GSK scientists and academic partners will be offered at the full application stage to applicants with competitive proposals who request assistance in strengthening their proposals.


The call will remain open until the 12th of January 2017

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