UofG brings world-changing expertise to five new Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence

Published: 19 June 2023

The University of Glasgow joins partners from across Africa and Europe in the formation of vital new Clusters of Research Excellence, established by the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild).

The University of Glasgow joins partners from across Africa and Europe in the formation of vital new Clusters of Research Excellence, established by the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild).

These sustained partnerships aim to transform the nature of collaborative research and bring about positive, long-lasting change to common societal challenges.

UofG VP Rachel Sandison signing GUILD Clusters of Excellence 

The Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE), led by ARUA and The Guild, will bring together distinguished researchers from universities and research institutes across both continents to address head-on the inequity that has characterised research in relation to Africa, to the detriment of global science.

The Africa-Europe CoRE will thus develop new research paradigms and transform the involved institutions’ joint capacities to overcome major health challenges, address the climate emergency, strengthen our technological transformations, and sustain our societies facing conflict and change.

The Clusters will help ensure that a common research agenda is at the heart of the African Union’s Africa 2063 strategy, which envisages Africa’s transformation to a knowledge society; and also strengthen the capacity of research and innovation to make a major contribution to each priority of the European Union’s Global Gateway.

Over the past six months, each Cluster was carefully developed, as researchers identified and formulated interdisciplinary visions in response to the pressing needs of our societies.

The Clusters are formed in the context of clear and unequivocal support in the R&I sector, in Europe and Africa, to develop science collaboration equitably and sustainably, and the urgent demand to funders like the European Union to develop a more integrated approach that focuses on excellence and capacity-building.

To this end, the Clusters are aimed to open up new dialogues with policy-makers and funders in both continents and beyond, to identify ground-breaking solutions and create opportunities for investment in societal transformation.

The University of Glasgow is pleased to co-lead two Clusters of Research Excellence and be partnered on three more. 

Rachel Sandison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), said: “The University of Glasgow is incredibly proud to be co-leading and participating in so many of the new Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence, which embody our commitment to equitable and impactful collaboration and desire to tackle real-world global challenges.

“As an institution, we hope to bring together our world-changing academic expertise, alongside that of our partners, to develop sustainable clusters in these vital research areas with the ambition to effect meaningful change.”

Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary-General of ARUA, said: “The prevailing obstacles to effective and equitable partnerships between African and European researchers will diminish in significance as the Africa-Europe Clusters of Excellence do what they are expected to do. The Clusters have been developed on the basis of trust and shared values between African and European researchers, and this is going to be the reason for their success in the years ahead. I am very optimistic that we will see a significant improvement in the quality of research and in the number of high-quality and impactful graduate students coming out of our universities.”

Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild, said: “The Leaders of the African Union and the European Union have identified research and education as a key part of the strategic relationship between both continents. The Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence will make a major contribution to this vision becoming a reality. We hope they will act as an inspiration to other researchers and institutions, just as they inspired our researchers, to address our pressing societal challenges collaboratively and equitably, in a deeply unequal world.”

Africa-Europe CoRE for Advanced Infectious Diseases Research and Training: Professor Andy Waters, Head of the School of Infection and Immunity, and Dr Lilach Sheiner, Deputy Head of Parasitology, will co-lead this ARUA-The Guild Cluster of Excellence on behalf of the University of Glasgow. Working in partnership with fellow co-leads, Prof. Gordon Awandare, the University of Ghana, and Prof. Steffen Borrmann, the University of Tübingen, Germany, as well as a host of other partners, this project will tackle some of the biggest global challenges posed by infectious diseases, while also ensuring an equitable working partnership model between researchers in Africa and Europe.

The Advanced Infectious Diseases Cluster will seek to better understand the fundamental biology of infections that are endemic in Africa and cause millions of deaths each year – in order to inform drug discovery and development as well as develop control and eradication programs. This Cluster will bring together a team of interdisciplinary experts from around Africa and Europe, to ensure scientific progress while also breaking down barriers for African-based infectious disease experts, who often face limited access to cutting-edge technologies.

Africa-Europe CoRE in Non-Communicable Diseases and Multimorbidity: Professor Pasquale Maffia, Professor of Cardiovascular Immunology at the School of Infection & Immunity will co-lead this Africa-Europe CoRE on behalf of the University of Glasgow. The Cluster is co-led in collaboration with six African and European research partners: the University of Nairobi, Kenya, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal, the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, the University of Cape Town, South Africa, the Université Paris Cité, France, and Jagiellonian University, Poland.

The Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Multimorbidity Cluster aims to address the growing burden of NCDs – such as cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory disorders – and their co-morbidities in African nations, where they are the leading cause of death. The Cluster's goal is to improve the health and well-being of populations in Africa by using a multidisciplinary approach to develop innovative and place-specific solutions for the study, prevention and management of a range of NCDs and their co-morbidities.

Africa-Europe CoRE for Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation: Professor Fabrice Renaud, Head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, is a core partner on this Africa-Europe CoRE. Co-led by the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch in South Africa, and the University of Bologna, Italy, this Cluster will build a multi-disciplinary research network between European and African institutions, in order to urgently tackle the impact of climate change on both continents.

The Cluster will respond to the fact that both Africa and Europe are highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, with human and wildlife consequences ranging from heat-related mortality and biodiversity loss, to reduced food production and water scarcity. To tackle these urgent issues the research team plans to establish a climate service hub for Africa and a nature-based solutions innovation hub, as well as focusing implementing innovative measures to combat climate change. 

Africa-Europe CoRE for Food Environment Actions for the Promotion of Health: Dr Graeme Young, Lecturer in Social and Public Policy (Urban Studies) at the School of Social & Political Sciences, is a core partner on this Africa-Europe CoRE. Co-led by the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Uppsala University, Sweden, this Cluster will tackle the triple burden of malnutrition driven by urbanization, food systems transformation and socio-economic inequalities.

This Cluster will seek to advance the study of food environments through cutting-edge research, while also developing the next generation of African and European scholars with support for early career researchers. The research team will also work collaboratively on education and policy-related activities to better understand different food environment drivers and their implications for planetary and human health.

Africa-Europe CoRE for Genomics for Health in Africa: Professor Olwyn Byron, Professor of Biophysics at the School of Infection & Immunity is a partner on this Africa-Europe CoRE. Co-led by Stellenbosch University, South Africa, the University of Tübingen, Germany, and the University of Bern, Switzerland, this Cluster aims to leverage the potential of genomics to revolutionise healthcare in Africa.

Although genomics can provide a better understanding of major health concerns such as rare diseases, cancers, and infections, it remains under-utilised in Africa due to insufficient infrastructure, resources and scientific capacity across the continent. Working collaboratively, this Cluster aims to build capacity for genomics work in African nations, so it can be used as a fundamental tool to revolutionise public healthcare for both infectious and rare non-communicable diseases.

ARUA was founded in 2015 and brings together 16 of the region’s leading universities and is focused on expanding and enhancing the quality of research carried out in Africa, by African researchers.

Founded in 2016, The Guild is made up of twenty-one of Europe’s most distinguished research-intensive universities, including the University of Glasgow, and is dedicated to enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers and their students.


Enquiries: media@glasgow.ac.uk 


First published: 19 June 2023

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