October 30, 2011

The November 2, 2011, Letter of Intent deadline is fast approaching for a funding opportunity that enables African researchers to carry out large-scale studies on African populations.

The initiative, Human Heredity and Health in Africa and known simply as H3Africa, funds the construction of a research infrastructure in Africa. Supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Common Fund as an initiative within its Global Health Program and by the Wellcome Trust, the program will create and support a network of laboratories that will apply leading-edge research to study the complex interplay between environmental and genetic factors which determines disease susceptibility and drug responses in African populations.

Researchers selected for H3Africa funding will establish or enhance local research facilities in their home country and use genome-wide scanning and sequencing technologies to identify genetic changes that contribute to the disorder selected for study. Previous genetic research suggests that populations in Africa have greater genetic diversity than populations in Europe and Asia. Genetic variation has been shown to affect how the body responds to environmental exposures and influences the risk of an illness.

The initiative is fundamentally different from much of the previous medical research in Africa. In the past, research samples from Africa were collected and brought back to Western laboratories for study. H3Africa aims to build the capacity for African researchers to study African populations to solve African problems. It is hoped that the initiative will create strong collaborations between African, European, and U.S. researchers.

Foreign institutions in African countries can apply for one of four types of funding: Collaborative Centers (U54), Research Grants (U01), Bioinformatics Network (U41), and Biorepository Grants (UH2, UH3). Applications are due soon; Letters of Intent are due on November 2, 2011, and applications are due on December 2, 2011. Find out more about the H3Africa funding opportunities and review samples of successful NIH grant applications. In addition, participate in the biweekly teleconferences to get help with the application process and join the H3Africa Applicant Discussion Group to exchange ideas, create collaborations, and explore possible research topics.