EDCTP-TDR Clinical Research Development Fellowships

Partnership objectives

  1. Develop strong research capability in low- and-middle income countries (LMICs) with infectious diseases.
  2. Reduce research bottlenecks as more new products enter the development pipeline.

Fellows report that skills acquired include project management, trial design and good clinical practice. Fellows report that skills acquired include project management, trial design and good clinical practice. Copyright WHO/ TDR

What are the health need and challenges?

Researchers from LMICs who are involved in clinical research projects have limited opportunities to acquire experience and develop skills for conducting clinical trials outside of an academic or public sector setting.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Founded in 1999 to promote high quality clinical research in LMICs, the World Health Organization (WHO) Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) Career Development Fellowships (CDF) program, developed with the help of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), offers targeted training to enhance competencies in clinical trials for medicines, vaccines and diagnostics on a broad range of infectious diseases of poverty. CDF fellows from hospitals, academic and research institutions in low- and middle-income countries are selected to work in the clinical department of a host pharmaceutical company or product development partnership (PDPs) to receive training on R&D project management, Good Clinical Practice and regulatory requirements. To date, 8 IFPMA member companies have participated in the program.  

In 2012, the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) partnered with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) to offer researchers similar placements in pharmaceutical companies. EDCTP is a partnership between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa that supports the clinical development of new or improved interventions to prevent or treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected infectious diseases and related research capacity building.

In 2014, TDR and EDCTP signed an agreement to harmonize and streamline their two fellowship programs. The partnership ensures synergies for the organizations involved, and facilitates common communication with researchers and clinical staff, pharmaceutical companies, PDPs and research institutions. 

Summary of impact and forward looking information

Between 2008 and 2014, 32 fellows were trained as part of the TDR fellowship programme. The EDCTP-TDR collaboration will allow for this number to increase in future years. 

An external review from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) of TDR’s career development fellowship has found the program has an impact on a broad range of factors, with ample future potential for continued growth and extension. Altogether, 95% of survey respondents think that their skills and competencies in good clinical or laboratory practices were “better” or “much better” at the end of the program.

TDR and EDCTP launched their first joint call on 31 October 2014. 20 product development organizations offered to host fellows in 2015, including Astellas, Bayer, GSK, Novartis, Merck, Sanofi and Sanofi Pasteur. The host organisations trained scientists – for a period of up to 24 months – to develop specialist product development skills not readily taught in academic centres or public research institutions. On returning to their home organizations, the fellows are expected to become an important resource for institutional capacity development to undertake and manage clinical research in accordance with international regulatory requirements and standards.

CDF fellows have come from 19 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, The Gambia, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Others have come from China, Colombia, Peru and Vietnam.

A second joint call was launched on the 22 October 2015 and a third joint call was launched in October 2016, for which Merck is confirmed as host organization. 

Up until 2013, Eisai also participated in the EDCTP-TDR Clinical Research Development Fellowships. Eisai had TDR program twice: once in 2010-2011 and then 2011-2012

Partnership information

Company(ies) Astellas , Bayer , GlaxoSmithKline , Johnson & Johnson , Merck , Novartis , Sanofi

Partner(s) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership Programme (EDCTP), World Health Organization (WHO)

Type of Partner(s) IGOs, NGOs, PDPs

Therapeutic Focus Other, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Infectious Diseases

Disease(s) Buruli Ulcer, Chagas Disease, Cysticercosis, Dengue, Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm), Echinococcosis, Endemic Treponematoses (Yaws), General Health, HIV/AIDS, Human African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness), Leishmaniasis, Leprosy, Lymphatic Filariasis, Malaria, Onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Podoconiosis, Schistosomiasis, Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis, Trachoma, Tuberculosis

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Technology Transfer - Scientific Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Research & Development - Development of Treatments, Research & Development - Operations Research

Targeted Population(s) Health professionals

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Latin America & Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 23

Country(ies) Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Vietnam, Zimbabwe

Start Date 1999

More information TDR Career Development Fellowship

Anticipated completion date Ongoing

« It’s having an impact. These Fellows have been building teams and producing data of internationally accepted quality, and that data is being used. »

Dr Fabio Zicker, TDR research coordinator