Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa

Cambridge-Africa Programme

The Cambridge-Africa Programme is an umbrella name for a range of initiatives: MUII, THRiVE, CAPREx, the Cambridge-Africa Alborada Research Fund and the Wellcome-Trust Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research. The Programme is a working partnership between the University of Cambridge and several African universities and institutes, and is linking up researchers and students from both geographic regions to engage in mutually-beneficial research collaborations, development and voluntary activities, teach on specialist courses,etc. Find out more about the Programme at For more information about the Programme and how to get involved, visit and sign up for our newsletter. Read on to learn all about theTHRiVE initiative.


Introduction to the THRiVE Programme

Africa bears a disproportional amount of the world’s disease burden and this in turn has a significant negative impact on its people and the continent’s economic development. Scientific infrastructure and research training are weak and under-resourced in many parts of Africa, contributing to a failure to apply modern technologies and medical advances to the health challenges still facing much of the continent. The strengthening of Africa’s indigenous scientific research base is crucial to the identification of its disease control and public health priorities, and to the discovery and successful application of appropriate solutions. The “Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa” (THRiVE) partnership, led by Makerere University in Uganda, aims to strengthen institutional research capacity in East Africa, and to support the next generation of East African researchers to become internationally competitive and self-sustaining scientific leaders, seeding a regional research community with the critical mass to address African health priorities.

THRiVE has matched outstanding young researchers with exciting projects over a wide range of disciplines, and is supporting them with committed teams of scientific mentors. The University of Cambridge, along with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is providing training, co-supervision and mentorship for THRiVE PhD and post-doctoral fellows registered in the African partner universities. The first fellowships begun in 2011.

The Director of the THRiVE consortium is Professor Nelson Sewankambo at Makerere University.  The main THRiVE consortium website is available at

Cambridge University's role in the THRiVE programme

Cambridge University is one of the world’s leading research-based multi-faculty universities, and has outstanding research capabilities and influence. As a partner in the THRiVE programme, Cambridge is keen to provide co-ordinated, cross-faculty research strengthening and scientific training activities to African scientists. This would help to tackle regional health problems in Africa and support Africans in developing their own regional centers of excellence for scientific education and training. Central to this programme is the principle of supporting African PhD and post-doctoral research on African priorities, in Africa.


For the THRiVE scheme, East African students register for PhDs in their home universities with local supervisors, but receive support in the form of co-supervision and co-mentorship from leading Cambridge research scientists. African PhD students can spend a year of their 4-year research programmes in their Cambridge mentor's laboratory. Postdoctoral level researchers, on the other hand, are being offered 2-year fellowships with the possibility of spending up to eight months with their mentors in Cambridge. Both Cambridge and Africa supervisors/mentors can exchange visits to provide maximum support and mentorship. THRiVE fellows who chsose to visit Cambridge will have access to a range of specialised training and transferable skills courses, lectures and seminars which are delivered through more than 150 departments and associated research institutes, including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Thrive director

Director of the THRiVE Consortium, Professor Nelson Sewankambo of Makarere University, Uganda (left) and Deputy Director Dr Saidi Kapiga, NIMR, Tanzania.

This and other innovative capacity-building and knowledge-exchange partnerships with African universities and institutes are building equitable and sustainable, North-South and South-South, networks to:

Cambridge’s participation in the THRiVE programme is being led by Professor David Dunne (Pathology), who has 25 years’ experience of collaborative research with African partners on neglected diseases in Kenya, Uganda, Mali and other parts of Africa. Support for the programme is being obtained from other members of the implementation committee in Cambridge, listed here.

The THRiVE Programme is funded by the Wellcome Trust, through its African Institutions Initiative.