The African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD) with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK aid from the UK government, through the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), is seeking proposals for both operational and social science research on ‘’Emerging Challenges facing NTD program implementation in Africa.’’ This second edition of the Small Grants Program (SGP II) is to support African researchers in both early and mid/late career to undertake operational research aligned with the goals established in the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases. SGP II is comprised of two small grant funding tracks:
a. Small grants for junior researchers
b. Small grants for mid-career and/or senior researchers.
This second call for proposals is targeted at outstanding researchers – especially beginning researchers – and academics based in research institutions or universities in Africa. Applicants will have to demonstrate that the proposed research or activity is aligned with country/program interests and has potential institutional/individual capacity-building impact. The small grants targeted at junior researchers at the Masters or PhD level will provide grants ranging from USD 5,000-15,000. A smaller number of grants for mid-career and/or senior researchers will also be available, each ranging from USD 15,000-25,000. Une version en français pour l'appel de projet de recherche est disponible en PDF. Toutefois, tous les postulants doivent soumettre le formulaire de projet de recherche en anglais.
Budget for SGP II:
Maximum funding per award:
USD 15,000 (junior researchers); USD 25,000 (mid-career and/or senior researchers)
Call Opening date:
August 10, 2018, 08:00 GMT
Call closing date:
September 10, 2018, 17:00 GMT
Announcement of awards:
October 22, 2018, 17:00 GMT
1. To increase African leadership, involvement and visibility in neglected tropical disease (NTD) operational and social science research, including through direct engagement with national NTD programs;
2. To contribute to improving the research capacity of an existing cadre of African NTD researchers and strengthening African research institutions in the process by supporting operational and social science research on NTDs that is locally originated and African-led, either by junior researchers or experienced researchers ready to take on larger research programs;
3. To improve South-South communication and collaboration among researchers, policymakers and implementers, and for community participation in research and agenda-setting;
4. To provide an opportunity for young upcoming researchers not only to gain experience in research, but also in preparation of grant applications and management;
5. To supplement a clearly defined aspect of ongoing research or to answer a new question linked to ongoing research being carried out by mid-career/senior researchers;
6. To encourage a model of North-South collaboration which promotes engagement between researchers in the South and their control programs, and improves local leadership and ownership of initiatives and activities.
In order to be considered for funding, the proposed research must be informed by existing evidence and identified gaps. Proposals must demonstrate significant potential to inform or develop further research activities. Priority funding will be directed to projects focusing on the five preventive chemotherapy (PC) NTDs (i.e., lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma) and projects focusing on improving equitable access to NTD interventions for vulnerable populations (e.g., nomads, groups in conflict zones, and rural/hard-to-reach areas, refugees, and the disabled). Eligible proposals may focus on:
1. Implementation research that aims to improve the effectiveness of NTD programs. This includes:
- Identifying factors that hinder equitable delivery of NTD program interventions to vulnerable groups.
- Developing, testing, and scaling practical solutions that are evidence-based, adaptive, and context-specific.
- Identifying ways to improve uptake, adaptation, and adoption of existing evidence-based strategies, tools, and diagnostics to achieve elimination and control targets.
- Exploring the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of integrating country-specific NTD program data into DHIS2.
For implementation research topics, applicants have the option of selecting one or both of the following:
- Conduct a formative study to quantify and describe implementation challenges and make recommendations for program improvements. In this case, applicants should clearly outline research hypotheses, methodology, and variables of interest.
- Conduct an intervention study, citing evidence from previous research and program dis-aggregated data through a gender, equity, and human rights lens and justifying the research questions, approach, and methodology in the background and significance section of the proposal. In this case, applicants should also clearly outline research hypotheses, methodology, and variables of interest; and document the proposed plan for evaluating the short-term or intermediate effect of the intervention on variables of interest.
2. Operational research with potential for generating knowledge that can directly inform programmatic decisions around program monitoring, stopping, and surveillance. Examples include modeling and cost-effectiveness.
SGP II funding cannot be used for paying salaries, participating in meetings/conferences, payment of tuition/course fees, purchase of restricted commodities (e.g., contraception, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, etc.), and for supporting existing programmatic M&E activities such as, but not limited to, mapping, mass drug administration, transmission assessment surveys (TAS), Kato-Katz impact evaluations, trachoma impact surveys/surveillance surveys, data quality assessments, onchocerciasis impact evaluations, onchocerciasis Stop MDA surveys, coverage surveys, knowledge attitude perception surveys, etc.).
- Must be currently employed by or enrolled as a student in an academic, health, or research institution in Africa for the duration of the grant
- Must demonstrate having a commitment to NTD-related research as well as the skills and experience required to carry out the proposed work
- Must be able to provide evidence of research output, including publications and/or presentations at scientific conferences
Specific to applicants for the junior researchers’ grants:
- Must be an early career researcher, defined as a basic biomedical scientist, clinically qualified investigator, or public health researcher, who has not previously competed successfully as principal investigator for a major research grant (i.e., ≥USD 200,000)
- Must hold at least a Master’s degree or should be actively enrolled in doctoral studies. Applicants holding a doctoral degree (e.g., PhD, DrPH, DSc) must have graduated no more than seven years ago. Clinicians (e.g. MBChB, MBBS, MD, DVM holders), who have not completed a Master’s degree must have some specialist training (e.g., Membership, Fellowship) or be able to demonstrate relevant research training/experience
- Must not currently hold positions above lecturer/assistant professor level or equivalent
- Must be able to provide written evidence of commitment to providing mentorship and supervision from a senior researcher with a track record and ongoing commitment to NTD research.
Specific to applicants for the mid-career/senior researchers grants:
- Must be a mid-career/senior researcher, defined as a basic biomedical scientist, clinically qualified investigator, or public health researcher, who has previously competed successfully as principal investigator for a major research grant, but is no more than fifteen years from their highest degree of study
- Must hold a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD, DrPH, DSc). Clinicians (e.g. MBChB, MBBS, MD, DVM holders), who have not completed a PhD must have completed specialist training (e.g., Fellowship) or be able to demonstrate relevant training tied to research (e.g., MSc, MPhil), or experience
- Must hold a position no lower than Senior lecturer/Senior Scientific Officer level or equivalent
- Must demonstrate that they have a track record and ongoing commitment to NTD research
How to apply
- Access the online application form and instructions here, complete all required sections and submit ahead of the deadline. Note that although a French version of the application form has been provided, all submissions MUST be made in English.
- Upload a copy of your budget. A budget template is availble in the application portal.
Review of the application will take the following into consideration:
- The eligibility of the applicant
- The scientific merit of the proposed project
- The significance of the research
- The potential for scaling up the research
- The overall quality of the application
A panel will review all complete applications submitted, culminating in the preliminary selection of the junior and senior grant awardees. You may download the reviewer’s guide from the application portal. The final award and disbursement of funds will be conditioned on the head of department/unit of the host institution in which this award will be based confirming in writing that the research will be supported with appropriate space and facilities and administered in the name of the organization. In addition, successful applicants for the junior researchers’ grants will be required to submit a letter of support from a senior researcher and mentor who will serve as their “research quality guarantor”, and will be equally responsible for the success of the research project.
Inquiries can be made from the ARNTD Secretariat at any point during the period when the call is open by sending an email with the subject line “Inquiry_SGP II” to email@example.com
 All applications submitted after the deadline of September 10, 2018 at 17:00 GMT will not be reviewed, and all unsolicited attachments will not be considered.
 We encourage proof-of concept projects which demonstrate potential for scale-up to benefit program implementation (control and elimination of NTDs) as proximally as possible and which could be attractive for later funding from other sources.