As part of GlaxoSmithKline’s Africa NCD Open Lab initiative, the pharmaceutical company is teaming up with the U.K. and South African Medical Research Councils in a £5 million ($8.07 million) collaboration aimed at supporting research into noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer and diabetes in Africa. The funding, which was pledged as part of a broader research collaboration between the the U.K. and South Africa, will be used to support researchers from South African institutions conducting research projects in NCDs.
Per the agreement, the U.K. MRC is chipping in £2.5 million ($4.03 million) via the U.K. Newton Fund, a government fund aimed at establishing science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. Likewise, the South African Medical Research Council is contributing around £1.5 million ($2.42 million). GSK will be providing £1 million ($1.61 million) and its R&D expertise to support projects within South Africa; the company also plans to commit £4 million ($6.45 million) on top of that to support successful proposals for NCD research from selected countries elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
The firm says an official call for proposals from researchers from South Africa and wider sub-Saharan Africa will be launched later this year, to begin in the second quarter of 2015.
“We believe that by providing support to African institutions as they carry out their own research in to the chronic disease variants that most affect the African people, the NCD Open Lab will play a key role in helping to tackle disease in this area,” Patrick Vallance, GSK's president of pharmaceutical R&D, said in a statement.
GSK established the Africa NCD Open Lab earlier this year with the aim of creating a research network pairing GSK scientists with researchers across Africa on epidemiological, genetic, and interventional research from its hub at GSK’s Stevenage R&D facility in the U.K. The firm says it hopes through this initiative to help build local expertise to create a new generation of African NCD experts, while instilling a deep vein of what the firm calls “African thinking” within its own R&D organization.