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Professor Kevin Marsh and Dr Anne Makena: Establishing the Africa Oxford Initiative

Introduction

Kevin Marsh: I’m Kevin Marsh, I’m Professor of Tropical Medicine here at Oxford in the Nuffield Department of Medicine. I also direct the Africa Oxford Initiative, which received initial funding from the Wellcome ISSF scheme.

Anne Makena: I am Anne Makena, the program coordinator for the Africa Oxford Initiative.

What is the Africa Oxford Initiative?

KM: The Africa Oxford Initiative is a cross-university platform for supporting the development of equitable partnerships with African collaborators and institutions. It serves as a way of bringing together all of the Africa-focused interest in Oxford into a single place.

What did Wellcome ISSF allow you to do?

KM: Well it really allowed us to get going, as I’ve said, the initiative itself is across all disciplines, but the ISSF funding allowed us to begin a small grants scheme for health and biomedical-related research which became the point from which we then built all the other activities of AfOx, so it really played a central role in getting us going.

What successes have you had so far?

AM: We’ve been able to set up the AfOx travel grants scheme and so far we’ve awarded fifteen different awards to set up new collaborations across various disciplines in health and biomedical sciences in the University. And also from that initial funding we’ve been able to also attract new members to join the AfOx team, over three hundred people already in our database at the moment.

What are your aspirations for the future of the Africa Oxford Initiative?

AM: I hope that with the initiative we can be able to set up a system where African researchers are able to primarily produce and own their own research.

KM: Yes I agree, and I think for us, the key thing is that Africa becomes a strategic priority for the University of Oxford.