Project history and goals
In May 2015, the Wellcome Trust funded the African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI) through the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) program, the first mental health award on this program. The overall goal of AMARI, whose Director is Dr Dixon Chibanda of the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, is to build an Africa-led network of 47 researchers in Mental, Neurological and Substance use (MNS) disorders in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Malawi and South Africa. These fellows will be equipped to lead high quality mental health research programs that meet the needs of their countries.
The other goal is to establish a sustainable career pipeline for these researchers with emphasis on integrating MNS research into existing programs such as HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health. AMARI aims to expand this initiative to other African countries through collaboration and knowledge exchange across the key areas of research, program implementation, grant writing, publication and teaching.
PhD and Post-Doc AMARI fellows receive a number of training courses to prepare them for their fellowships and future careers. This includes an introductory course to the PhD and Post-Doctoral research programs, a statistics course, introduction to epidemiology, and an Academic Career Enhancement Series (ACES).
The ACES course is based on King's College London's award-winning THRIVE course for early career researchers, and covers non-academic skills needed to build a career in research. This includes training in mentoring, presentation skills, using digital media, work-life balance, teamwork skills, grant writing, teaching techniques, and strategic career planning.
AMARI proposes to recruit twenty-one research fellows for the MPhil program in Public Health at the University of Cape Town. Twenty research fellowships will go to PhD students, while the remaining six fellowships will be for Post-Doctoral researchers. Students from all four AMARI countries - Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe - are eligible for the scheme. The first AMARI fellows were recruited in 2016 and the project will run until 2021.