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

The University of Glasgow joins partners from across Africa and Europe to form 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.

"We're 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."

The Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE) 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.

We are pleased to co-lead the following two Clusters of Research Excellence:

Advanced infectious diseases research and training

This cluster 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. It will seek to understand better the fundamental biology of infections that are endemic in Africa and cause millions of deaths each year, to inform drug discovery and development and control and eradication programmes.

Glasgow’s Professor Andy Waters, Head of the School of Infection and Immunity, and Dr Lilach Sheiner, Deputy Head of Parasitology, will co-lead together with Professor Gordon Awandare, the University of Ghana, and Professor Steffen Borrmann, the University of Tübingen, Germany, as well as a host of other partners.

Non-communicable diseases and multimorbidity

This cluster aims to address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and their co-morbidities in African nations, where they are increasingly becoming 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 prevention and management of a range of NCDs and their co-morbidities.

Glasgow’s Professor Pasquale Maffia, Professor of Cardiovascular Immunology at the School of Infection & Immunity will co-lead in collaboration with colleagues from 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.

We will partner on the following three clusters:

Nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation

This 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 on implementing innovative measures to combat climate change.

Glasgow’s Professor Fabrice Renaud, Head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, will partner on this cluster which is led by the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch in South Africa, and the University of Bologna, Italy.

Food environment actions for the promotion of health

This cluster will tackle the triple burden of malnutrition: urbanisation, food systems transformation and socio-economic inequalities. 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.

Glasgow’s Dr Graeme Young, Lecturer in Social and Public Policy (Urban Studies) at the School of Social & Political Sciences, will partner on this cluster which is led by the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Uppsala University, Sweden.

Genomics for health 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. 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.

Glasgow’s Professor Olwyn Byron, Professor of Biophysics at the School of Infection & Immunity will partner on this cluster, which is led by the 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.

A commitment to equitable partnerships

Rachel Sandison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement): “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: “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: “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.”