Health researchers from Malawi are in line to tap from a £4m first round of funding that one of the world’s leading pharmaceuticals firms GSK has made available for eight African countries to research into non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
GSK said on Friday it has launched the first call for proposals for its Africa NCD Open Lab to support much-needed scientific research into outbreak of NCDs on the continent.
It said the fund of £4m (K3.2 billion) aims to support successful proposals from researchers in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi.
“In this region, and across developing countries, non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, are becoming more prevalent, and we need to learn more about how – and why – these diseases manifest differently in this setting,” reads a GSK statement.
It says the research work would be collaborated through GSK’s Africa NCD Open Laboratory, a £25m investment set up earlier this year to deal with NCDs through research.
It says the Africa NCD Open Lab, based at GSK’s Stevenage R&D facility in the UK aims to address NCDs through the creation of an innovative research network under which GSK scientists collaborate with researchers across Africa on high quality epidemiological, genetic and interventional research.
“The aim is that this will specifically inform interventions for the prevention and treatment of five priority diseases – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and chronic respiratory disease–while helping build local expertise and creating a new generation of African NCD experts.
GSK says following the first call for proposals from the African researchers, an independent external advisory group, comprising clinical and scientific experts in the field of NCDs, will review applications to the NCD Open Lab, with recommendations for funding based on scientific merit.
The group will consist of a majority African membership to ensure that only locally-relevant research is funded, it says.
Dr. Mike Strange, Interim Head of Africa NCD Open Lab said the laboratory initiative said the potential to dramatically improve understanding of NCDs in Africa – and could ultimately, accelerate the development of new, better medicines to treat them.
“The launch of our first call for proposals is an important milestone for this initiative, and we encourage researchers working in the field of NCDs who are based in the eight eligible countries to consider applying for the funding and expert support available to them through this,” he said.