SPARK Africa Director Collen Masimirembwa receives fellowship award

Posted on November 12th, 2021

Congratulations to Prof. Collen Masimirembwa, director of SPARK GLOBAL Africa, who was awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship as part of the inaugural 2021 cohort.

The Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship recognizes outstanding scientists tackling some of the greatest challenges in global health. It is awarded to scientists permanently located at an African research organization “who have not only the expertise to do transformative science on the ground but also the experience, networks, and skills to anchor health and development R&D in their communities, design or co-design projects with local and global partners, and mobilize key institutions in their countries,” according to the Gates Foundation. Awardees receive five years of funding plus networking opportunities and access to non-scientific training.

The Gates Foundation said, “our hope is to establish a cohort of fellows with a wide range of expertise and interests so they can complement and support each other as a collaborative community of practice.”

Prof. Masimirembwa was awarded a grant for “Implementation of Pharmacogenomics Testing for Effective Care and Treatment in Africa.” He will generate a research and innovation ecosystem, including training scientists and establishing centers of excellence in genomic medicine research, for the sustainable development of genomic and pharmaceutical medicine capability in Africa. Prof. Masimirembwa will also perform a multi-center clinical trial across several countries to determine the effectiveness of pharmacogenetic testing in reducing the incidence of adverse drug reactions and increasing treatment efficacy in African populations. Prof. Masimirembwa is founding President and Chief Scientific Officer of the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST) in Zimbabwe.

Prof. Masimirembwa said, “The award of 1 million USD over a 5-year period will enable me to promote drug and diagnostics innovation across Africa through centres of excellence in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria, using Pharmacogenomics as a flagship program. I particularly want to forge strong partnerships with the biopharmaceutical industry towards mutually beneficial R&D capacity building outcomes.”

“I am highly motivated to have a sustainable framework over five years to consolidate the SPARK model in Africa,” he added.