The MUII fellowship programme was initiated in 2008 with the following key features:
i. Partnership with Makerere through joint supervision of PhD fellows
ii. Exposure to new methods and approaches, and to world-class science, through sandwich attachments at regional and international partner institutions for PhD and post-doctoral fellows
iii. A competitive application process comprising written applications, short-listing, proposal development and interview, with a selection committee established on principles agreed with the Advisory Board
iv. An induction process for supervisors and fellows
v. Written guidelines for supervisors and fellows
vi. A formal "upgrading" process for PhD fellows after one year
vii. Annual reports and nal reports
viii. Individual reviews at one-to-one mentorship meetings with the programme coordinators
ix. Regular group meetings for peer support including progress updates, research in progress seminars and writing workshops
In the first phase, four PhD and two post-doctoral fellows were recruited. With additional funding from two European Union-funded initiatives (IDEA,mentioned above, and the related FP7 initiative, The SchistoVac,http://www.theschistovac.eu/) we added another PhD fellow and two Masters fellows. With our phase 2 funding from the Trust we added three
more post-doctoral fellows and four "fast-track" Masters fellows, bringing our total to six Masters, five PhD and five post-doctoral fellows.
Fast-track Masters fellowships were established because of concern that research career development is sometimes slow in Uganda because the brightest young graduates lack the funding to proceed immediately to a Masters degree and then a PhD. Four fellows were appointed in 2011. They have completed their taught courses and are commencing their research
projects. Their performance in the taught courses has been excellent, with many A grades achieved. In the forthcoming period, 2013-2015, we hope to exploit Makerere's provision for the best Masters students to convert their Masters project into a PhD, and so to pilot a scheme for Fast-Track PhDs.
Of the four PhD fellows who commenced in 2009, three are close to submission; the fourth has a year to go because of maternity leave. The "upgrading" process at the end of year one proved a valuable feature of our PhD programme. This took place on 19th February 2010 using video links between LSHTM or Cambridge and Uganda so that as many supervisors
and advisors as possible could attend. Each fellow provided a report and the full proposal for their work, and presented preliminary data. In general the students showed excellent progress, but the exercise also identied important needs (concern about the rate of progress and about the approach to scientic writing for one fellow) that were then addressed
promptly and very successfully.
All of the PhD and post-doctoral fellows have benefited from sandwich attachments overseas. This has broadened their research experience and shows signs of leading to important long-term collaborations. For example, Dr Annettee Nakimuli's PhD fellowship is the focus of a particularly exciting collaboration between the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at MUCHS and the Department of Pathology at Cambridge.
One product of this collaboration was a multidisciplinary conference on maternal mortality in Africa at which Annettee was a keynote speaker. The group are now seeking further funds for a collaborative centre for maternal and perinatal health research.