The Francis Crick Institute and LifeArc partner with five African research institutions to support scientists

Monday 14 August 2023

The Francis Crick Institute and LifeArc partner with five African research institutions to support scientists

  • The Francis Crick institute and self-funded charitable medical research organisation, LifeArc, are partnering to invest £7.5m to support African scientists to address unmet medical needs in their communities
  • The Crick Africa Network launched in 2017 to help tackle infectious disease. The partnership between the Crick and five African institutions, aims to support African scientists to build their research careers
  • Career Accelerator Fellowships will enable African researchers to address unmet medical needs and bridge the gap between basic discovery science and the development of new diagnostics, vaccines and treatments

The Crick Africa Network (CAN) is set to extend for a further five years, supporting more young African scientists to build their careers in research, thanks to a £7.5 million investment from the self-funded charitable medical research organisation, LifeArc.

CAN, supported by LifeArc, will offer Career Accelerator Fellowships for post-doctoral biomedical researchers to develop their research into translational scientific programmes and to become independent scientists, building their careers on the African continent.

Jean Langhorne, Director of the Crick African Network, said: “Low- and middle-income countries face the biggest threats from infectious disease, climate change and related health impacts. However, their scientists, who are best placed to pose and answer the right research questions, often lack the resources and connections. We are committed to redressing this imbalance and creating equitable partnerships with scientists in Africa.

“We’ve already seen incredible success from our previous fellows who are establishing themselves as science leaders, growing scientific and training capacity in Africa, and contributing to global biomedical research. We’re delighted to develop CAN further and partner with LifeArc who will bring their expertise and financial support to the network.”

CAN Fellows will receive four years of funding hosted at one of five African partner institutions: WACCBIP, University of Ghana; Stellenbosch University, South Africa; University of Cape Town, South Africa; MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM; MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit.

They will also have the opportunity to utilise the world-class research and laboratory facilities and platforms at the Crick as well as at LifeArc’s state-of-the-art facilities in Stevenage and Edinburgh. They will be offered mentorship and support in grant writing, publications, research ethics, as well as translational science and commercialisation delivered by LifeArc’s Academic Engagement team.

In another addition to the programme, CAN will now support Technology Development Fellows – one-year training posts for African-based scientists in the management and development of science and technology platforms which provide critical technical research support.

LifeArc are focused on translational science – bridging the gap between academic research and clinical development. They provide funding, research and expert advice, all with a commitment to having a positive impact on patient lives. Having LifeArc as part of CAN will bring a unique translational focus to the programme, ensuring that research addresses unmet medical need and bridges the gap between basic discovery science and the development of new diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.

Dr Mike Strange, Head of Global Health at LifeArc says: “LifeArc is committed to investing over £100 million in global health, with a focus on infectious diseases, over the coming years. We are delighted that one of our first announcements as part of this, is our support of the Crick Africa Network. Our aim is to focus our efforts where the need of patients is greatest and where we can make a unique contribution. Pursuing collaborative partnerships, like this, that drive innovation and help create a more equitable and sustainable global health research ecosystem is core to what we are trying to achieve. We look forward to working with the fellows as they build their careers.”

CAN Successes

Since it was first established in 2017, 18 CAN Fellows have progressed through the unique programme, building their own careers and furthering their research in infectious diseases.

Achievements from the first cohort include:

  • 82 academic publications published
  • Over £11.6 million secured in grant funding
  • 97 students supervised, building training capacity for the next generation of African scientists

Peter Quashie, a Former CAN Fellow, is now the deputy director of research at WACCBIP, University of Ghana. He said: "The leadership training that I benefited from early on in my CAN Fellowship was instrumental in helping me plan my career, supervise students and staff, and apply for grants.

“By allowing flexibility to pursue COVID-19 research when other research had stalled, CAN allowed me to shine and become known as a scientist repute, beyond HIV. As a result, I drove a lot of centre-level COVID-19 projects and helped obtain over $3 million in funding to WACCBIP."


For further information from LifeArc, contact:

Consilium Strategic Communications
Tracy Cheung, David Daley, Lindsey Neville
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3709 5700

For further information from The Francis Crick Institute, contact: or +44 (0)20 3796 5252

Notes to Editors

The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

An independent organisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King’s College London.

The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into a brand-new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.

About LifeArc  
LifeArc is a self-funded, not-for-profit medical research organisation. We take science ideas out of the lab and help turn them into medical breakthroughs that can be life-changing for patients. We have been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has contributed towards five licensed medicines, including cancer drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), lecanemab for Alzheimer’s (Leqembi), and a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance.

Our teams are experts in drug and diagnostics discovery, technology transfer, and intellectual property. Our work is in translational science – bridging the gap between academic research and clinical development, providing funding, research and expert knowledge, all with a clear and unwavering commitment to having a positive impact on patient lives.  LifeArc is committed to investing £1.3 billion by 2030 in areas of high unmet medical need. LifeArc is a company limited by guarantee (registered in England and Wales under no. 2698321) and a charity (registered in England and Wales under no. 1015243 and in Scotland under no. SC037861).

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