AREF-MRC Towards Leadership Programme

Deadline: 30th of June, 2022

Programme: October 2022 – October 2023

The programme is focused on winning grant funding, empowering effective teams, collaborating internationally, influencing stakeholders and building rewarding research careers.

The Africa Research Excellence Fund & UKRI Medical Research Council (MRC) are investing in talented African scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa, enhancing their global health research and leadership potential.

Applications are open for the AREF-MRC Towards Leadership Programme 2022. The aim of the Towards Leadership Programme is to empower talented, emerging scientists in Africa to compete successfully for UKRI MRC and other major funding opportunities in global health research.

Programme Details

  • The event will run consisting of two residential workshops and one virtual workshop.
  • Practical workshops at six-monthly intervals
  • Supplementary webinars, tutorials and online resources
  • Baseline and end-of-programme assessments and evaluation
  • Collaboration between participating individuals

The themes of the program suitable to the needs of each cohort:

  • The researcher as a leader: focusing on learning and leading in a complex world; raising the cohort’s self-awareness and mindfulness while also building their coaching, influencing, and leadership capabilities.
  • The effective researcher: developing the individual’s ability to envision, plan and action career goals and developmental trajectory through personal development planning, time management, and mentorship.
  • The researcher as a communicator: augmenting the individual’s leadership, authorship and authority skills through the use of effective presentations, storytelling and messaging while refining their engagement with research users.
  • The compelling applicant: understanding funders; proposal development and writing skills- from formulating a research question, justifying the design / strategy, concept notes and full proposals; data sharing; understanding peer review; fellowship interviews.
  • The researcher as a manager: building a great team; effective collaboration; implementation planning; working with Research Support and Finance departments; managing a budget and intellectual property

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


  • Accommodation and travel expenses of the selected nominees will be covered  by The MRC and AREF.


  • Citizen of a country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Employed in Sub-Saharan Africa by a recognized university and/or specialist research institution.
  • A career researcher, having completed your research education and are now at the early stages of leading your own research group.
  • Must hold a research doctorate (PhD/DPhil/MD) from a recognised academic institution or have a medical/clinical qualification PLUS a research-relevant Master’s degree, both usually within the last 10 years. If it has been longer than 10 years since your last degree, please explain in your application why you should still be considered an early career researcher (i.e. caring responsibilities or career break/change impacting your research career.)
  • Responsible for managing/supervising one or more research students and/or involved in building research through collaborations with research staff members
  • Demonstrate evidence of being at the early stages of leading a research team or being an active member of a research team conducting global health research
  • A significant part of your current employee role is to develop and conduct health research.
  • Have an experience in research funding (combined value of £500,000 or less.)

Selection Criteria

To be accepted to the Programme, your application must provide details of how this will benefit your home country.

Therefore, in the application form you will need to provide a persuasive personal statement demonstrating:

  • Your current/most recent research project and the potential for it to make an impact on health
  • A compelling career vision and how you plan to achieve it
  • Your potential as an emerging research leader to build a successful research group, influence your discipline, and engage with impact or innovation outside of academia
  • How you and your institution will benefit from participating in the Programme.

Nominations must be accompanied by a supporting letter from an authorized senior representative of your employing institution, such as the director. They should:

  • Confirm your eligibility
  • Confirm they authorize you to participate in all three workshops – that you will not be withdrawn to fulfil teaching, administration or other obligations
  • Describe how they personally and the institution will recognize the benefits that participating in the programme brings – and how those benefits will be integrated into and sustained within the organisation.

Nominees must be fully committed to participating in all three workshops of the Programme; partial attendance is NOT an option.

Application Deadline: 30th of June, 2022

To apply, click here to download the application form and return it to aref@aref-africa.org.uk by the deadline.


Oyin Olufayo

Oyin Olufayo is a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. A recent graduate of The School of Politics, Policy, and Governance (SPPG) She is a Technical Writer, Political Writer, and a Content Writer. Her passion for sustainable development goals has been implemented by creating tangible solutions. She has featured in grassroots initiatives like TedX, World Literacy Foundation, Spur Nation Media, FRCN, Naija Law and etc. spreading the impact of Sustainable education, and also facilitated numerous events regarding SDGs.

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