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Project launched with Africa to develop new energy and healthcare research

27 March 2019 – A newly launched research project brings together African researchers with a team from the UK’s Diamond Light Source synchrotron research facility to focus on two key areas crucial to development in Africa – energy and healthcare.

The African and UK investigators will work together to develop and characterise new materials of relevance to solar energy conversion and catalysis as well as to characterise proteins of relevance to better understand diseases and develop drugs.

STFC is funding the project, called START (Synchrotron Techniques for African Research and Technology), through the Global Challenges Research Fund. The scientific results that come out of the project will be valuable in themselves, and may also lead to commercial applications, but START will also promote the development of research capabilities within Africa, and international research collaborations.

Africa does not yet have a synchrotron light source, but African researchers are keen to apply synchrotron techniques to their research problems. The START project will help to train the next generation of researchers in nations that have not had the chance to access and exploit synchrotron based techniques in their research. The work will focus around the development needs of African countries, driven by the Africa-based investigators and the non-government organisations (NGOs). Countries involved include South Africa, Lesotho, Ethiopia and Egypt.

Energy materials research is vital because 600 million people (70% of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity, and a reliable electricity supply is one of the most powerful tools for lifting people out of poverty and ending their dependency on aid.

START’s second focus area on structural biology will look at African specific diseases such as malaria, TB, and African horse sickness – a highly infectious and deadly disease that affects horses, mules and donkeys, which is devastating for the local farming industry.

With funding through to 2021, START is set to have a significant positive impact in Africa.

You can learn more about the project here

Last updated: 22 May 2019

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