Promoting Research Opportunities for Biochemists in Africa (PROBio-Africa) Fellowships
The long-term objective of this program is to foster cooperation between the Federation of African Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (FASBMB), the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB), and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) that would benefit their members, trainees, and science.
Specific objectives include:
- Creating the conditions to support students officially enrolled in Ph.D. programmes in African countries and affiliated with FASBMB (via their corresponding national societies) for short stays (1-6 months) in the laboratory of a scientist in a FEBS country* who belongs to a FEBS Constituent Society, in order to carry out research work that is a part of their Ph.D. thesis. The number of awards granted per year will depend on the availability of funds allocated to the programme by FEBS and IUBMB.
- Creating the conditions to support African postdoctoral fellows and new researchers (not more than 5 years after obtaining the Ph.D. degree) affiliated with FASBMB (via their corresponding national societies) to work for 1-6 months in the laboratory of a scientist in a FEBS country who belongs to a FEBS Constituent Society. The purpose of the award is to support the postdoctoral fellows or new investigators carrying out experiments that require special techniques and expertise or to facilitate other forms of scientific collaboration or advanced training. The number of awards granted per year will depend on the availability of funds allocated to the programme by FEBS and IUBMB.*A ‘FEBS country’ is a country in Europe and neighbouring regions that has a FEBS Constituent Society (a national Society that belongs to FEBS).
Despite significant development of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in African countries in the past decade, Africa still lags behind other continents in research and education mainly due to previous and current economic challenges. Therefore, strengthening and fostering cooperation of African molecular life scientists with colleagues worldwide is of utmost importance for the further growth of scientific activities in the region. Thus, enhancing collaboration with well-established and highly advanced laboratories in FEBS countries would significantly impact the progress of scientific and training activities in the field of molecular life sciences in Africa. In addition, most African Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows are used to conducting their research in sub-optimal conditions, so when given the opportunity to work in a supportive environment, they can express their full potential and achieve significantly better results. We believe that providing opportunities for promising Ph.D. students/postdocs and fellows to gain international experience can substantially contribute to capacity building in the molecular life sciences in Africa.
Condition of Awards:
Awards will be provided to offset the costs of travel to/from and living expenses in the FEBS country of the host lab for the 1 – 6 month duration of the research visit.
Awards will be granted for a maximum of EUR 5,000 (approximately EUR 1,000 for travel costs, and EUR 4,000 for living expenses).
Travel costs will provide for economy airfares, incidental expenses directly related to the travel, local bus fares to and from the airport, and visa costs.
The awards will not cover health insurance, insurance against damages, or research expenses at the host laboratory.
Travel should commence within six months of the award being granted. It is expected that suitable matching funds will be available from the laboratories hosting the Ph.D. students/postdoctoral fellows or new investigators to cover their living expenses during longer stays.
Applicants for awards are required to make a full declaration of all other support received in connection with the proposed visit. An award cannot be used to supplement scientific visits otherwise fully covered.
Awards will not cover courses, symposia, meetings, or congresses.
Applicants must be residents of countries that are members of FASBMB and affiliated with FASBMB (via their corresponding national societies) and should be Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows, or researchers within five years of receiving the Ph.D. degree (exceptions, duly justified in the application, in case studies were started later, were delayed by maternity leave (18 months per child), prolonged illness or other personal reasons).
Within 3 months of completion of the fellowship, awardees should send a written scientific report (no longer than 2 pages) signed by the hosting supervisor and awardee, and a budget report (including copies of all receipts covered by the award). Successful awardees should indicate the support from the IUBMB/FEBS/FASBMB PROBio-Africa Fellowships programme in all outputs (conference presentations, publications, etc.).
The following documents should be provided in English:
- A research proposal of no more than two pages, single-spaced, indicating clearly:
- an outline of the project and a description of the type of experiments to be carried out,
- the justification for visiting a particular laboratory to conduct the experiments rather than to perform them in the applicant’s laboratory,
- the rationale for the required period requested.
- A budget should be provided, in which all other sources of support, whether awarded or applied for, should be mentioned. All budgeting should be in EUR.
- The applicant’s short curriculum vitae and a list of publications as per the provided template (including an official academic transcript from the institution for Ph.D. students).
- The certificate of membership of one of the FASBMB Constituent Societies at the time of application.
- Proof of proficiency in English (or the official language of the host laboratory) should be provided.
- A letter of recommendation from the Ph.D. student’s supervisor, postdoctoral fellow’s mentor, or head of the department of the applicant’s institution, in which the benefits of the award are highlighted.
- A letter of agreement from the head of the host laboratory (and head of the institution, if applicable), declaring the willingness to accept the applicant. The letter should indicate how the receiving institute will contribute to the costs of the visit (for example, consumables, bench fees, or additional living expenses).
- A list of papers published by the hosting supervisor during the last five years and current projects in the laboratory should be provided.
- A membership certificate of the supervisor showing affiliation with FEBS (via the corresponding national Society).
FEBS will provide a list of the laboratories willing to host Ph.D. students and fellows from Africa so that the applicants can contact them directly.
If the applicant prefers to contact a non-listed laboratory (up to three laboratories), FEBS may assist in contacting it after receiving and reviewing the following documents from the applicant.
A cover letter with full contact details (including an official email address) of the applicant’s potential hosting supervisor(s).
The applicant’s short curriculum vitae and a list of publications as per the provided template (including an official academic transcript from the institution for Ph.D. students).
Proof of proficiency in English (or the official language of the host laboratory) should be provided.
The certificate of membership of one of the FASBMB Constituent Societies at the time of application.
A letter of recommendation from the Ph.D. student’s supervisor, postdoctoral fellow’s mentor, or head of the department of the applicant’s institution, highlighting the benefits of the award.
The request for this assistance should be sent at least two months before the call deadline.
Selection of Awardees:
There will be one call for applications per year, which will be open in early spring.
The infrastructure and network of FASBMB, FEBS, and IUBMB will be used to disseminate information about the Programme.
FEBS will receive and process applications and forward them to an ad hoc Committee. The Committee, consisting of six members, two appointed by FEBS (Fellowships Committee Chair and WGI Chair as the coordinator), two appointed by IUBMB (Fellowship Committee Chair and one member), and two by FASBMB (Meetings Counsellor and Vice-President), will be in charge of the selection of the candidates.
FEBS and IUBMB have each committed funds of up to EUR 25,000 per year (a total of EUR 50,000 per year) for this Programme.
Selection of the awardees will be based on the following:
- scientific quality of the research proposal
- the recommendation letter from the Ph.D. student’s supervisor, postdoctoral fellow’s mentor, or head of the department of the applicant’s institution
- applicant’s CV, including publications
- an official academic transcript from the applicant’s institution (for Ph.D. students)
- proof of proficiency in English (or the official language of the host laboratory)
- scientific outputs, including publications of the hosting supervisor
- scientific expertise, mentoring environment, available infrastructure, and availability of research funds in the host laboratory, to cover the proposed research plan.
Important: Money will be transferred to the awardee after his/her arrival in the host country.
After an initial 3-year test phase, an independent panel appointed by FEBS, IUBMB, and FASBMB will evaluate the Programme. The results of such evaluation will be used to determine whether the Programme should be maintained, reformulated, expanded, or terminated.
The application period ends on May 15