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Apply Now: $58 Million for African Data Science & Health Research Grants

By Wayan Vota on October 26, 2020

digital health africa research

In the next decade, rapid advances in data science are expected to transform biomedical and behavioral research and lead to improved health for individuals and populations. There are opportunities to utilize data science to impact health outcomes on the African continent and around the world.

Yet data science expertise is scarce and scattered throughout the continent. African health data scientists are needed to conduct policy analyses as Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) of data science research and clinical decision support solutions are needed due to a critical shortage in the medical workforce.

Many of the enabling factors for catalytic impact are already in place. For example, extensive mobile phone coverage in Africa has led to major innovations that could bring the clinic to the patient through data science technologies, with applications to rural and underserved populations in the United States and worldwide.

A unique continental network of data scientists and engineers could be transformative, bringing together existing expertise to develop tools and applications that can be shared, adopted, and harmonized globally.

$58 Million African Research Fund

The US National Institutes of Health has launched a $58 million initiative to advance data science, catalyze innovation and spur health discoveries across Africa. The new five-year program, Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa, will leverage existing data and technologies to develop solutions for the continent’s most pressing clinical and public health problems.

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NIH has an open call for grant applications in four areas: an open data science platform and coordinating center; research hubs; research training programs; and ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) research.

  • Open data science platform to develop and maintain a data-sharing gateway for existing resources and new data generated by the DS-I Africa research hubs.
  • Coordinating center to provide the organizational framework for the direction and management of the initiative’s common activities.
  • Research hubs as recognized centers of excellence in data science fields and will advance population-relevant, affordable, acceptable and scalable data science solutions that will improve health in Africa.
  • Research training programs in rigorous methods and analytic techniques to provide interdisciplinary research experience and enhance trainees’ ability to develop novel data science solutions.
  • Research into key ELSI issues such as data privacy and ownership, cybersecurity and sensitivities concerning the use of geospatial information for research or public health surveillance.

These funding opportunities are open to African organizations in partnership with private sector, government, NGO, and other research partners. Interdisciplinary collaborations will bring together data specialists, computer scientists and engineers with biomedical researchers, clinicians and other health experts.

Potential research topics could include:

  • Developing artificial intelligence tools to advance decision support for mobile point of care technologies,
  • Leveraging large shared health datasets to reveal disease patterns and risks,
  • Computational approaches and open data sharing to accelerate discovery of new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

The program aims to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will result in new software solutions and technologies, produce start-ups and spinoff companies, and partner with governments and businesses to reach scale and impact.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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8 Comments to “Apply Now: $58 Million for African Data Science & Health Research Grants”

  1. DUAPA is an ICT farmer-led mobile platform to support access to food production information and technologies through extension services. This initiative aims at developing farm production content, conduct virtual training of extension staff and establishing Call Centers (VCC) in the districts. This will be complemented with Mass SMS advisory and selected radio Broadcasts.

    We intend to reduce physical distance of extension officers on the farm and increase the number of farmers reached with extension services. This will lead to the creation of big data/internet of things for policy planning. This is plan will support sustainable solutions to the provision of informational packages that will cater for some time with changing environment conditions globally.

    A farmer with a concern will simply dial a given number at the virtual call center depending on the area of concern. The VCC will direct the call to the available expert within seconds, after the in-bound call is received it will be automatically distributed to available expert who deals with the query. At this point, the VCC system automatically log and store all the data. Whilst on the other hand the expert is constantly adding to the basic user profile by noting the location of the farmstead, farm practices and other issues.

    2. What problem does our innovation seek to solve? The ICT innovation help to bridge the gap between those have access to extension service and those who don’t have. The ICT innovation will help provide quality information and knowledge while ensuring the social distance as much as possible between the local government extension workers, urban centers and rural areas. It will also enable the rural dwellers to benefit from all kinds of services that were not available specifically DUAPA will solve two broad challenges including Food production and Extension services

  2. Akan-Imo says:

    How does one apply? There is no link to an application page.

  3. Yusuf Mansur Moriki says:


  4. Dr. Okeke Chibuzor says:

    Please keep me posted on research opportunities

    Dr.Okeke Chibuzor

  5. Jamac says:

    There is no link for this proposal how can i apply this opportunity

  6. Daniel Ngeno says:

    Help me to know how to go about to get these grants. My Community and health Centre I serve deserve a lot of assistance in matters ICT promotions, Youth and women empowerment and even personal business promotions. Basic needs are still a problem here.