The Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) at the University of Cape Town is pleased to have been chosen to host one of eight new Wellcome-funded Discovery Research Platforms. The Discovery Research Platform for Infection will take on gaps in our knowledge that hold back understanding of the interaction between infection and non-communicable diseases, and strengthen capacity to enable locally led, high-quality research studies to reduce infection, especially HIV-1 and tuberculosis.
Wellcome today announced funding for eight new Discovery Research Platforms to address a range of practical, technological and methodological barriers holding up progress across a wide array of fields. The Discovery Research Platform for Infection at the University of Cape Town has the distinction of being the only platform in this funding scheme outside the United Kingdom. The platform will receive approximately £9 million in funding from Wellcome over 7 years.
“In South Africa, and on the continent of Africa as a whole, infections such as HIV-1, tuberculosis and respiratory tract infections are still amongst the leading causes of death. Although much progress has been made, it is crucial to build and sustain capacity to bring cutting edge discovery science to the countries that experience the greatest burden of these diseases,” said Robert J Wilkinson, Director of CIDRI-Africa.
“A key challenge area for Wellcome is infectious diseases and we are grateful to them for their confidence to resource our platform primarily to advance basic knowledge that we anticipate will translate into better care for our patients,” he continued.
Discovery research has tremendous potential to transform the understanding of life, health and wellbeing and improve people’s lives. However, researchers are often faced with barriers too substantial to overcome alone which prevent the pursuit of exciting new discoveries in their field.
“As part of our commitment to fund curiosity-driven discovery research, we want to tackle some of the barriers and bottlenecks across fields which hold back progress and limit the ability of researchers to take on big, challenging questions,” said Michael Dunn, Director of Discovery Research at Wellcome.
Discovery Research Platforms will bring together researchers, teams and networks of collaborators to develop new tools, knowledge and capabilities, with the hope of accelerating progress for the benefit of the wider global research community.
The other Discovery Research Platforms span a diverse range of fields and disciplines and include:
The Discovery Research Platform for Cell-Matrix Biology at the University of Manchester
The Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities at Durham University
The Discovery Research Platform for Transformative Inclusivity in Ethics and Humanities Research at the University of Oxford
The Discovery Research Platform for Naturalistic Neuroimaging at University College London
The Discovery Research Platform for Integrating Metabolic and Endocrine Science at the University of Cambridge
The Discovery Research Platform for Tissue Scale Biology at the University of Cambridge
The Discovery Research Platform for Hidden Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh
“Discovery Research Platforms are a brand-new approach for Wellcome. By providing substantial support focused on specific research challenges, these environments have the potential to revolutionise fields and provide maximum possible benefit for researchers around the world. I am particularly excited that Discovery Research Platforms span such an exciting range of disciplines, showcasing our increasingly inclusive approach to funding,” said Michael Dunn.
Wellcome plans to convene all eight Discovery Research Platforms over the next year to encourage collaboration and the exchange of best practice between researchers and teams working in these environments. Discovery Research Platforms, which will be funded over a period of seven years, are part of Wellcome’s long-standing commitment to funding fundamental science that shapes the world around us.