“Want to develop vaccines in Africa? Then invest in expertise and infrastructure” 

Understanding biological systems is critical to the prosperity, and possibly, survival of the human race. Without it, we are threatened by disease, energy and food insecurity, pollution and climate change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to have both national and international approaches to research and development with access to the right type of world class equipment, training and expertise.

In this article, The Conversation unpacks how our three-year START programme (Synchrotron Techniques for African Research and Technology) – funded with a £3.7 million Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) grant from the UK Research and Innovations’ Science and Technology Facilities Council – substantially prepared South Africa’s capacity to do this work.

START trained students and postdoctoral research assistants at eight South African universities and the country’s National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD). It also allowed access to the UK’s national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source.

Structural Biology research included SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), snakebite venom, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, human papilloma virus, cardiovascular disease, as well as equine diseases, and many more. Work has also been done to create industrial enzymes for the manufacture of medicines and commodity chemicals.

“The GCRF START initiative provided an exceptional combination of expertise and experimental resources.”

Read the full article here: