Scientists awarded £1.1M to safeguard food security in Africa

Friday 18 October 2019

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World-renowned scientists from the University of St Andrews have been awarded funding of over £1.1M from the UK Government to safeguard food security and health in East Africa.

The research, led by a team of scientists from the Schools of Biology and Medicine, will focus on food security and health in East Africa and aims to break the current circle of poor sustenance and poor health by tackling food security and health challenges.

The funding, from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), of just over £1.1M, was awarded as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund’s (GCRF) Global Research Translation Award. UKRI awarded 18 international partnerships totalling £14.8M, shared between UK HEIs and global research partners.

The University of St Andrews award is the single biggest to be announced.

The Food Security and Health for East Africa project aims to break the current circle of poor sustenance and poor health by tackling food security and health challenges as a single, connected

development issue. The research is an interdisciplinary project led by Professors Andrew Brierley and Lesley Torrance from the School of Biology and Dr Wilber Sabiiti from the School of Medicine.

The team of scientist will focus on research to increase the availability of food staples by producing climate-resilient and disease-resistant potato varieties; to seek to reduce the incidence of human disease (schistosomiasis) with prawns (bio-control) to disrupt the infection cycle and provide protein-rich food; and to increase diagnostic accuracy and improve antibiotic stewardship in the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.

UKRI Director of International Development, Professor Helen Fletcher, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to fund 18 projects through the Global Research Translation awards. Each and every one will make a massive difference to peoples’ lives in communities spread across the world to ensure some of the most challenged communities have a brighter future.

“Over the next year and a half, UK researchers will work with their international counterparts, policy makers, businesses and local organisations to turn promising research into solutions that can be taken forward through various pathways such as spin-out companies and social enterprises to make a positive difference to people who live with the reality of challenges such as climate change, poor sanitation and disease every day.”

Global Research Translation Awards are specifically aimed to deliver scalable solutions to issues faced by low and middle-income countries.


About GCRF -

UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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