Research Training and Capacity Building

Between 2010 and 2015, the MRCG supported the training of 203 individuals, with MSc representing 24% and PhD 13% of the overall training.

Overall, more than half of training was supported by the MRCG core budget with the rest on external funds.

Top achievements include the following:

  • The MRC Career Development Award Fellowship won competitively by Dr Alfred Amambua Ngwa.
  • The MRC Award of £1m to support three MRC‐LSHTM West African Global Health Research Fellowships; the three fellowships were awarded to Drs Brenda Kwambana, Antoine Claessens, Effua Usaf.
  • Award by the Medical Research Foundation (MRF) of £1.1m to renew and extend the MRF Bsc Scholarship Programme and the achievement of first class honours degrees by MRF scholars Madikay Senghore and Rahmatulai Maane.
  • The inclusion of three of our senior scientists (Anna Roca, Assan Jaye, and Martin Antonio) in the Program Leader Track with the opportunity of applying for a Program Leader position in the next few years. This should increase the pool of scientists in the Unit able to submit grant proposals.
  • The launch in 2013 of the Unit’s Researcher Development Programme (RDP) with Manchester University and Vitae support, targeted to the generic skills needs of early career researchers.
  • A new blended learning Field Workers Programme piloted in 2013/14, providing experience and tools with which to extend e‐learning to other MRC groups in The Gambia and Uganda, and possibly to other West African research institutions.
  • Mezida Saeed, a Manchester University BSc student who spent her sandwich ‘industrial’ year at the MRCG, was named as the Faculty of Life Sciences Undergraduate of the Year on graduating in 2013. The MRCG regularly hosts up to six Manchester University BSc students a year for their sandwich ‘industrial’ year.
  • Two MRCG Diploma/Foundation Degree scholars have gone on to win PhD scholarships: Madi Njie, studying for a PhD in malaria immunology with the University of Melbourne; and Mustapha Bittaye, who won his scholarship to study for a PhD in microbial proteomics at the University of Aberdeen.
  • Similarly, two of the staff MRCG sponsored for Manchester University’s BSc in Biomedical Sciences have obtained PhD scholarships: Nene Sallah from the Sanger Institute and Saikou Y Bah in Biomedical Science (Pathway Medicine) with University of Edinburgh.
  • Ten postgraduate/post‐doctoral trainings within the West African Collaboration platform.

Between April 2010 and April 2015, 144 degrees or other external professional training activities were completed.

The percentage of women trainees (30%) is higher than the Unit gender balance (26%, February 2014). PhD and MSc together represent 35% of all trainees. The large majority took ≥4 years to complete the PhD training.

Gambians represent the large majority of trainees, and for some degrees they are the only nationality represented – e.g. BSc and foundation degree. Nevertheless, among the MSc and PhD, students from other Africa countries represented the majority.

In summary, the MRCG has supported, largely with its own funding, the training of a significant number of individuals, the large majority Gambians trained at BSc level or other training.