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Press release

Humboldt Foundation supports six new research hubs in Africa

They are to help cope with the current pandemic and develop strategies for handling future crises.

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Working within a framework of African-German partnership, the new Humboldt Research Hubs will develop strategies for addressing pandemics. Germany’s Federal Foreign Office is currently financing five research hubs in Africa. A sixth research hub is being financed in cooperation with the Bayer Foundation. Each of the six research hubs will receive up to €750,000 in funding over a period of five years. These Humboldt Research Hubs are the heart of a new alumni programme being offered by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for senior researchers from all disciplines at African universities.

Portrait Ezra Chitando
Ezra Chitando, head of the Humboldt Research Hub "Fighting pandemics with religion? How female religious actors in Africa (can) contribute to ensuring healthy lives“
Romain Lucas Glèlè Kakaï (dritter von links) und sein Team
Romain Lucas Glèlè Kakaï (third from left), head of the Humboldt Research Hub "Socio-Ecological modeling of COVID-19 dynamics in Africa (HRH-SEMCA)“, and his team
Portrait Simeon Fogue Kouam
Simeon Fogue Kouam (black suit), head of the Humboldt Research Hub "CEnter of Competence for the study of Antimicrobial NAtural PROducts from Fungi (CECANAPROF)“, and his team
Portrait Francine Ntoumi
Francine Ntoumi, head of the Humboldt Research Hub "COvid-19 in Central Africa (HRH-COCA): Systematic Evidence of the Viral Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and Effectiveness of Vaccination in Co-Infected Individuals“
Portrait James Olopade
James Olopade (second from right), head of the Humboldt Research Hub "Alexander von Humboldt Center of Excellence for Zoonotic Arbovirus Diseases (ACEZAD)“, and his team
Poatrait Daniel Olusola Ojurongbe
Daniel Olusola Ojurongbe, head of the Humboldt Research Hub "Establishment of Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease“

“The excellent Alexander von Humboldt Foundation network can provide crucial impetus for solving global problems. We have great confidence in the amazing ideas being generated there. Which is why we are giving African researchers the opportunity – through our Research Hubs – to enter into collaborations based on their ideas and needs and to make contributions that will benefit the entire world in the fight against pandemics”, said Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

“With the new research hubs in Africa we are backing the development of sustainable structures so that we are better prepared for future global pandemics."
Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy at Germany's Federal Foreign Office

Speaking of the Foreign Office’s commitment to the new research hubs, Michelle Münterfering, Minister of State in Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, said: “With the new research hubs in Africa we are backing the development of sustainable structures so that we are better prepared for future global pandemics. The establishment of these research hubs is an expression of our “science diplomacy”, an area in which partnerships with Africa in particular play an important role. Being the local partners, the directors of the research hubs who have been selected by the Humboldt Foundation stand for the high quality of the research being promoted there.”

Hubs are being established at six locations in Benin, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Zimbabwe to strengthen research capacities in Africa and help Humboldt alumni there network with researchers in Germany. The work conducted at these hubs aims to produce research findings that are particularly relevant for coping with the current pandemic and at developing strategies for handling future crisis situations. The research hubs also have the task of fostering young researchers, intensifying exchange between collaborative partners, and enabling the procurement of research materials.

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More about research cooperation with developing countries

The following outstanding researchers from the African Humboldt network will head the Humboldt Research Hubs:

  • Professor Dr Ezra Chitando (Georg Forster Research Award winner), Religious Studies, University of Zimbabwe
    Title: Fighting pandemics with religion? How female religious actors in Africa (can) contribute to ensuring healthy lives
    Research focus: How are women, as actors in religion and (preventive) health care, helping to overcome the pandemic and what can we learn from this that can make efforts to fight future pandemics more effective?
    Collaborative partners:
    In Germany: Professor Dr Eva Spies, University of Bayreuth
    In Kenya: Professor Dr Eunice Kamaara, Moi University
  • Professor Dr Romain Lucas Glèlè Kakaï (Humboldt Research Fellow), Statistics, Biometrics, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
    Title: Socio-Ecological modelling of COVID-19 dynamics in Africa (HRH-SEMCA)
    Research focus: What are the key factors influencing the heterogeneous spread of COVID-19 in Africa and how can this knowledge be put to use to ensure that scarce vaccine is distributed efficiently?
    Collaborative partners:
    In Germany: Professor Dr Martin Wolkewitz, University of Freiburg
  • Professor Dr Simeon Fogue Kouam (Georg Forster Research Fellow), Organic Molecular Chemistry, Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroon
    Title: CEnter of Competence for the study of Antimicrobial NAtural PROducts from Fungi (CECANAPROF)
    Research focus: Increase research capacity in Cameroon in the area of natural product chemistry – and mycology in particular – by establishing a collection of fungal cultures.
    Collaborative partners:
    In Germany: Professor Dr Marc Stadler, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig
  • Professor Dr Francine Ntoumi (Georg Forster Research Award winner), Medical Microbiology, Fondation Congolaise pour la Recherche Médicale, Republic Congo
    Title: Humboldt Research Hub COvid-19 in Central Africa (HRH-COCA): Systematic Evidence of the Viral Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and Effectiveness of Vaccination in Co-Infected Individuals
    Research focus: Establish systematic evidence of the viral dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and assess the effectiveness of vaccination in co-infected individuals
    Collaborative partners:
    In Germany: Professor Dr Steffen Borrmann, University of Tübingen
    In Cameroon: Professor Dr Véronique Nintchom Penlap Beng, Université de Yaoundé I
  • Professor Dr James Olopade (Georg Forster Research Fellow), Veterinary Medicine, Neurosciences, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
    Title: Alexander von Humboldt Center of Excellence for Zoonotic Arbovirus Diseases (ACEZAD)
    Research focus: How high is the concentration of antibodies in wild animals in Nigeria, Cameroon and Benin which have been infected by a disease that is transmitted by an arbovirus and what can be said about the corresponding concentration of antibodies in humans?
    Collaborative partners:
    In Germany: Professor Dr Martin Groschup, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Greifswald
    In Nigeria: Professor Dr Christian Happi, Redeemer’s University

The collaboration with the Bayer Foundation is making it possible for the Humboldt Foundation to establish a further hub in addition to the hubs being funded by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office.

  • Professor Dr Daniel Olusola Ojurongbe (Georg Forster Research Fellow), Medical Microbiology, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Nigeria
    Title: Establishment of Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease
    Research focus: Which genetic factors influence the relatively low mortality rate for COVID-19 in Africa and which COVID-19 rapid tests are best suited for use in Africa?
    Collaborative partners:
    In Germany: Professor Dr Thirumalaisamy P. Velavan, University Hospital Tübingen
    In Sudan: Professor Dr Mohamed Osman, University of Khartoum

“We are pleased to be working with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to strengthen researchers in Sub-Saharan Africa with the aim of addressing current and future challenges. Fostering young researchers is of particular importance to us”, said Monika Lessl, Executive Director of the Bayer Foundation. “We consider the establishment of a joint research hub to be an important step in this direction.”

(Press Release 24/2021)

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time conducting research in Germany. The Foundation maintains an interdisciplinary network of well over 30,000 Humboldtians in more than 140 countries around the world – including 57 Nobel Prize winners.

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