AREF Research Development Fellowships for African Postdoctoral Researchers 2021

AREF research development fellowships are open for applications for Sub-Saharan African postdoctoral researchers in 2021. The fellowship will provide an early career researcher with funding to support a placement of at least three months and up to nine months in Europe or South Africa.

The aim of the fellowships program is to enable talented African postdoctoral researchers – including those who are clinically active – to develop their own research ideas, advanced skills, collaborations, mentorship and funding proposals through a well-planned placement of 3-to-9-months in a leading research organization in South Africa, UK or continental

Worth of Award

  •  The maximum award is £43,000 GB Pounds for a nine-month placement.
  • The length of the placement and actual amount awarded will depend on the detailed justification provided by the applicant and their sponsoring institutions.
  • Applicants will need to demonstrate a credible, ambitious vision for their research on a human-health challenge for Africa; and a transformational, well-supported development plan that would be significantly enhanced by the fellowship.


  • To be eligible, applicants must be a national of a country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • You need not be resident in Africa at the time of applying, provided that your application is officially supported by an African institution that meets the eligibility criteria for an employing institution and which attests that it intends to employ you locally.

Academic qualifications (non-clinician): 

  • Essential: PhD qualification within the last six years (at the time of the application deadline) -awarded a PhD or equivalent postgraduate degree from a recognised institution of higher education.
  • If you do not currently have a PhD, you must provide evidence that a recognised examining institution expects you to have been examined for the degree of PhD/DPh by September 2021. You will not be able to take up the Fellowship without having been awarded a doctorate by a recognized and reputable academic institution.
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Academic qualifications (clinican):

  • Clinician with a PhD. Essential: Clinically-qualified applicants with a PhD/DPh/MD should have been awarded the doctorate from a recognised institution of higher education within the last six years.
  • Clinican with a Masters degree but not a doctorate. Essential: You must have a Masters degree and at least three and not more than seven years of active research experience. Experience both before and after gaining a Masters qualification counts towards the experience total. You will normally have plans to gain a PhD or equivalent doctorate (although not funded as part of the AREF Fellowship).
  • Clinican with a specialist clinical qualification but not a doctorate. Essential: You must have an MD, MBBS or equivalent and a specialist clinical qualification. Examples of specialist clinical qualifications are FRCP, FWACP or equivalent. You must also have at least three and not more than seven years of active research experience. You may have plans to gain a PhD or equivalent doctorate (although not funded as part of the AREF Fellowship).

If you have previously submitted an application to AREF and it was unsuccessful, please contact AREF before starting an application.

How to Apply

Applicants must ensure that their Employing and intended Host Organisations (the sponsors) understand the purposes of the AREF Fellowship, how AREF will pay the organisations and what their obligations are if they accept an award.

Tips for success:

  • Applicants need to articulate (i) a specific, important health challenge relevant to Africa, (ii) an original, potentially impactful and researchable question, and (iii) an understanding of the pertinent research methodologies / technologies to answer that question – and which capabilities you intend to develop. Many applications fail to be ambitious, original or feasible – or just lack specific details.
  • Applicants must be specific about the research they are aiming to do after the Fellowship: we ask you to define a research question and outline strategy.
  • Applicants must describe how planned Fellowship activities will lead towards addressing that research question and career goals.
  • Applicants must engage as soon as possible with their home institution so they actively support the application.
  • Applicants must engage early with their intended academic host and the host institution: they need time to develop the right kind of support for the Fellowship.
  • Applicants should ensure that the costs are clearly specified and are permitted.
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Deadline: Deadline for applications is 12:00 hours (GMT) September 23, 2021 (no late or incomplete applications will be accepted). The awards will be announced early in 2022.


Click here for more details and to apply