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NIH to invest $58M to catalyze data science and innovation in Africa

May / June 2020 | Volume 19, Number 3

Digital map of Africa.
Image by iStock

The NIH has announced it plans to provide $58 million over five years for a new initiative, Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa (DS-I Africa). The program is intended to explore how advances in data science applied in the African context can spur health discoveries and catalyze innovation.

DS-I Africa will leverage existing data and technologies to develop solutions for the continent’s most pressing clinical and public health problems. Awards will be supported in four areas: an open data science platform and coordinating center, research hubs, research training programs, and ethical, legal and social implications research. The program is targeting African academic and other non-profit organizations to apply in partnership with private sector, government and other research partners.

Notices of intent to publish four funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for DS-I Africa were recently issued by NIH. The FOAs will be issued this summer and will provide more details regarding the initiative. Applications are expected to be due in late 2020 with projects slated to begin in the second half of 2021.

NIH is hosting a virtual symposium platform in late summer to communicate the program’s key priorities and engage participants in robust scientific discussions on the state of data science in Africa. The platform is designed to encourage networking across disciplines, sectors and geographies to foster collaborations that will produce high quality applications.

DS-I Africa is an NIH Common Fund program guided by a working group led by the Office of the Director, Fogarty, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM).


DS-I Africa Sub-initiatives

Illustration and description of DS-I Africa sub-initiatives. Full description immediately follows.

Description of DS-I Africa Sub-initiatives illustration: Shows DSI Africa initiatives in concentric circles:

  • Open Data Science Platform and Coordination Center at center in blue
  • Research Hubs focused on key health problems in the next circle in yellow
  • Data Science Training Programs in the next circle in red
  • Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of DS-I Research in the outer circle in purple
  • Symposia (years 1 and 6) not pictured

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