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Health Equity – Food Security Workshops

USHEPIA

Applying Biotechnology to Poverty in Africa

USHEPiA Planning Workshops for International Multidisciplinary Research Projects

A grant was awarded to the USHEPiA Programme in August 2000 by the Rockefeller Foundation which enabled the USHEPiA partner universities to hold a series of research planning workshops to explore the possibilities offered by international multidisciplinary research projects within the Programme.

The projects to be considered were to be within the Rockefeller key areas of Health Equity & Food Security. This particular area of focus was selected due to the variable and unpredictable circumstances prevalent in most African countries today, and the concomitant necessity to pool our scarce resources and collaborate in solving our problems. The same circumstances make these necessities very difficult to carry out. The USHEPiA Programme was interested in assessing whether research collaboration is possible amongst the partner universities. The planning workshops were therefore organized to:

  • Bring African academics working in complementary research areas together.
  • Make an assessment of the resources, expertise and current relevant research activities in the specific field.
  • Clearly define the proposed research focus of a collaborative multidisciplinary project.
  • Determine the capacity development needs of each participating institution (African Career Awards, fellowships for postgraduate degrees, post doctoral fellowships, short training courses, etc.) and consider how to integrate these into the collaborative research project most effectively.
  • Identify 1-2 people to write up a research proposal based on the results of the workshop. This proposal should detail the specific research to be undertaken by participating institutions, their capacity development needs (including the development of women), and how each institutional project contributes towards the overall project.

The product of each research-planning workshop was a proposal for multidisciplinary collaborative regional research projects incorporating clear mechanisms for development of capacity in the participating universities. Six workshops were conducted around the topics:

Workshop 1: Abiotic stress tolerance in plants

Workshop 2: Biotic stress tolerance in plants

Workshop 3: HIV / AIDS

Workshop 4: Primary and community medicine: TB

Workshop 5: Malaria and natural products

Workshop 6: Intellectual property management