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Best practice

The Africa Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Open Lab advances NCD research

Company:

GSK

What:

A notable number of collaborations with African institutions to assess, support and improve NCD research.

Region:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Aim:

To support and build the capacity of African scientists to conduct research on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Context:

In some African countries, such as Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles, NCDs cause over 50% of all reported adult deaths. This implies that NCDs will soon be a leading cause of ill health, disability and premature death in the Region, and will have an adverse impact on socioeconomic development.

In 2014, GSK established the NCD Open Lab to support and build the capacity of African scientists to conduct research on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 

In the 2016 Index, GSK received innovation credit for its work with the Clinical Research Unit at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to independently assess NCD research capacity in African institutions, and identify opportunities to build capacity. This work has allowed GSK to target and address gaps in NCD research in Africa.

How does this initiative build capacity for NCD research?
Currently, the Africa NCD Open Lab works in various ways to respond to local needs to build capacity for research in African universities and public research institutions. It supports scientists, for example, by funding research proposals selected by an independent scientific advisory board, the majority of whose members are African scientists. GSK plans to make further calls for research proposals. To support the next wave of African scientists, it even has a dedicated stream for early career researchers. The Africa NCD Open lab is also building biostatistics capability, which was identified as a key research gap. It collaborates with the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa on pharmacogenomics research.

What makes this a best practice?  
This initiative has been recognised for best practice for two key reasons. First, it meets all good practice standards: it has good governance structures, it aligns with research institute goals, it has the aim of long-term improvement in research and science in Africa, and it has developed a framework to monitor, track and evaluate the progress of activities. Second, the approach to assessing and targeting local needs credited in 2016 is evident in GSK’s collaborations with African institutions and is a strong example of how companies should ensuring they meet local needs.  Second, the novel approach it takes to identifying local needs (an approach credited in 2016) is now established, and is evident in the lab’s collaborations with African institutions.  

In the breadth and number of its collaborations with universities and institutions to build capacity, within a specific area of need (NCDs), GSK’s notable example stands out among its peers.


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