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Press Release No. 29 | 18 June 2010
Kickoff meeting as part of the DFG’s “Africa Initiative“

African and German researchers meet in Berlin to discuss infectious diseases

From 20-22 June, around 100 researchers will meet in Berlin for the first conference held as part of the "Africa Initiative" launched by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). This initiative brings together African and German researchers to discuss the topic of “Neglected Diseases”. Through cooperation projects, the researchers will devote themselves to resolving urgent issues in infection biology. In funding these projects, the DFG aims to advance the fight against infectious diseases. Involving researchers from the countries affected and providing support by establishing local research capabilities (also known as “capacity building”) are key focuses of these efforts.

This conference provides a first opportunity for all the researchers involved in these cooperation projects to come together and present their work – including, for example, a project on sleeping sickness in humans. In addition to these impetuses to professional networking, the international group will also have the all-important opportunity to exchange personal experiences. 

The DFG initially announced its “Africa Initiative” (properly known as the “German-African Cooperation Projects in Infectology”) in April 2007, and a second call for proposals followed in November 2008. 25 international projects are currently being funded within the framework of the infectious diseases cooperation programme. The first call for proposals attracted 36 full proposals, of which 16 were awarded funding, while nine (out of 19 received) were approved in the second round. A total of around 20 million euros is available for project funding.

The “Africa Initiative” has multiple goals:

  • To develop new forms of medical therapy for diseases of poverty. The focus should, therefore, be primarily on those diseases into which research has – mainly for economic reasons – hitherto been neglected. The projects are intended to provide researchers with research opportunities they would otherwise not have had.
  • To “build capacity”. These projects aim to establish an outstanding scientific infrastructure to strengthen the academic environment in Africa.
  • One of the programme’s stated aims is to provide young African researchers with high-quality training in order to give them long-term prospects in their homeland. During the decision-making process, therefore, particular attention was paid to the promotion of young researchers. In combination with the improved infrastructure, this measure is intended to combat the “brain-drain effect”.
  • To encourage comprehensive networking between all the researchers involved in the German-African cooperation program, rather than focusing merely on the exchange of ideas within project teams.

It is with the potential for such exchange in mind, therefore, that this kickoff meeting in Berlin has been planned and designed. In addition to the specialist presentations, the agenda also includes a visit to the exhibition organised jointly by the DFG and the Robert Koch Institute entitled “MenschMikrobe – Das Erbe Robert Kochs und die moderne Infektionsforschung” [“Humans and  Microbes – Robert Koch's Legacy and Modern Infection Research"]. Following this, a podium discussion in English on the topic of “Poverty Diseases  in Africa” will be held in the Thaer Hall of the Humboldt University (Invalidenstraße 42, 10115 Berlin). This will take place at 6 pm on Tuesday, 22 June 2010.

The African cooperation partners are based in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. The projects are intended to continue for up to eight years, with two interim reviews taking place, one after each 3-year period.

Further Information

Contact:

  • Dr. Andreas Strecker
    Andreas.Strecker@dfg.de
    Tel. +49 (0)228 885-2530

Journalists are welcome to attend the podium discussion.
To do so, please register with Michael Hönscheid:

  • Michael.Hoenscheid@dfg.de
    Tel. +49 (0)228 885-2109