The African Academy of Sciences and the South African Medical Research Council tackle antimicrobial resistance in Africa

29 March 2018 | Nairobi, Kenya & Cape Town, South Africa | The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) today announced an investment of $2 million to fund research into understanding the burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Africa and develop relevant technologies and products to address the AMR challenge.

AMR essentially renders some drugs ineffective and has contributes to 700,000 deaths globally each year. Although resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics has been witnessed in Africa, the full scope of the burden is not yet understood as 40% of African countries do not have sufficient data on AMR.

“Antimicrobial resistance is likely to compound the high disease burden in Africa and therefore requires us to increase our understanding to be adaptive and responsive,” says AESA Director Prof Tom Kariuki.

The funding for projects is made available in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and through the Grand Challenges Africa and Grand Challenges South Africa programmes, which were created to catalyse scientific breakthroughs and find local solutions to solve Africa’s pressing challenges. The AAS and the SAMRC signed a collaboration agreement in 2016 and this is the second call for proposal issued by the partners under the Grand Challenges umbrella.

“We are excited to be working with Grand Challenges Africa again and hope that the partnership will catalyze and strengthen intra-continental research collaboration between South African researcher and their peers on the continent”, says Zoleka Ngcete, Programme Manager for Grand Challenges South Africa.

“Understanding the scale of antimicrobial resistance informs our strategic response to counter the impact of AMR in the provision of present and future healthcare on the continent,” says Professor Glenda Gray President and CEO, at the SAMRC.

Seed grants to the value of $100,000 and full grants to the value of $250,000 will be awarded to researchers who reside in Africa working in any discipline and from any organisation, including colleges, universities, government laboratories, research institutions and non-profit organisations and on projects that will research new approaches to characterise the global burden of antimicrobial resistance.

Funding will be given to projects that propose innovation in:

  • Data sources: Pilot tests of new sources of data, particularly those that would bring together different research communities for new perspectives on the problem.Analytical methods: Pilot tests of bioinformatics approaches, including those that combine or connect existing databases in novel ways.
  • Biomarkers: Pilot tests of new biomarkers or combinations of biomarkers that could lead to new understanding of the actionable implications of antimicrobial resistance surveillance data.
  • Low-cost technologies and products: Exploratory work in developing new technologies and products, including 1) those that specifically target improved infection prevention and control in healthcare settings to reduce reliance on healthcare provider behaviour change, and 2) technologies to remove antibiotics from effluents.
  • Antimicrobial resistant requires stewardship for the global good as bacteria do not know and do not respect geographical boundaries. Africa needs to be better prepared for the benefit of its people,” concluded Dr Moses Alobo, the Programme Manager for Grand Challenges Africa.

Grand Challenges India and Grand Challenges Brazil will be announcing their calls on antimicrobial resistance in due course.


The call for applications  will close on 16 May 2018 and can be accessed via:


Antimicrobial resistance in Africa: a systematic review


A pharmaceutical fix for drug resistance

The African Academy of Sciences:

The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is a pan African organisation headquartered in Kenya, which aims to drive sustainable development in Africa through science, technology and innovation. It has a tripartite mandate of pursuing excellence by recognising scholars and achievers; providing advisory and think-tank functions for shaping the continent’s strategies and policies; and implementing key science, technology and innovation programmes that impact on developmental challenges through the agenda setting and funding platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA). AESA was created by AAS and the NEPAD Agency.  Launched in 2015, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) is an Africa-led, Africa-centred, and Africa-specific platform for developing strategies, mobilising resources, implementing science, technology and innovation (STI) programmes in Africa and evaluating the impact of these investments.

Join us on and Twitter @AASciences and learn more at and and Twitter @AAS_AESA and learn more at

South African Medical Research Council:

The scope of the SAMRC’s research includes basic laboratory investigations, clinical research and public health studies. Research at the SAMRC focuses on the top 10 causes of death in South Africa.  To assist with delivering on this vital mandate, the organisation is led by the National Department of Health and works with other key stakeholders such as the Department of Science and Technology, South African and international science councils, medical schools, universities, research institutions and international collaborators. Further information:

Grand Challenges Africa
The Grand Challenges family of initiatives seeks to engage innovators from around the world to solve science, technology and innovation, health and developmental challenges. Grand Challenges initiatives are united by their focus on fostering innovation, directing research to where it will have the most impact, and serving those most in need. The Grand Challenges Africa scheme is part of the global Grand Challenges family and seeks to promote Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by awarding seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. AESA implements GC Africa in partnership with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Agency and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Open calls from Grand Challenges partners can be viewed here

Media Enquiries:

Deborah-Fay Ndlovu

African Academy of Sciences

Tel: +254 727 660 760 | +254 20 806 0674


Keletso Ratsela

Corporate & Marketing Communications, SAMRC


Tel: +27 71 214 5272