Clinical research and development fellowships

This is a one-year programme designed for scientists from developing countries to work with pharmaceutical and research institute partners to learn how to lead clinical drug and vaccine trials. The ultimate goal is to reduce research bottlenecks as more new products enter the development pipeline, and develop strong research capability in low- and-middle income countries with infectious diseases.

It’s having an impact. These Fellows have been building teams and producing data of internationally accepted quality, and that data is being used.

Dr Dermot Maher, TDR coordinator of research capacity strengthening and knowledge management

Founded in 1999 to promote high quality clinical research in low and middle income countries, the CRDF started out as a partnership between TDR and the Belgium-based GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, a global vaccine research, development and production company.

“You need networks,” says Dr Opokua Ofori-Anyinam, Senior Manager of Clinical Development at GSK Biologicals. A native of Ghana, she has been involved in the programme since its inception and has mentored no fewer than ten Fellows. “You may be clever, but if you’re not allowed to see what is beyond your small field, you don’t know what you can do.” With the CRDF, she says, the aim is to provide researchers the kind of opportunities they can’t find in academia – “the chance to do things differently, taking into account exposure to different aspects of research, and to help other people do better. That is what I really love about the programme,” she says. “That’s why I’m dedicated to it.”

The programme has grown to 18 partners, including 13 pharmaceutical companies, 3 Product Development Partnerships (PDPs) and 2 public research institutions.

Those selected to participate in the programme receive 12 months of on-the-job training in R&D project management, Good Clinical Practice and regulatory requirements before returning to their home institutions. The programme has supported 72 fellows from 26 countries, and many are now leading clinical development projects and helping their countries’ institutions increase research capacity.