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Oyeyemi Ifeoluwa and others win Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit–MARS Awards 2023

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany, recently held the prestigious Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2023. This event, in partnership with renowned organizations such as the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS), Manipal University, and the African Union Scientific Technical Research Commission, aimed to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of African researchers.

During the ceremony, six researchers from six different African countries were honored for their exceptional work in two categories: Best African Women Researchers and Best African Young Researchers. The event was graced by the presence of distinguished African Ministers of Health, Technology, Information & Technology, Social Affairs, Women Rights & Gender, Community Development, and Social Welfare.

In addition to recognizing the winners, Merck Foundation also announced the Call for Applications for the upcoming edition of the Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2024. This initiative aims to empower women and youth in STEM in Africa, with a particular focus on the crucial role of scientific research in women’s health and reproductive and fertility care.

To catch a glimpse of the remarkable MARS 2023 Awards Ceremony, you can watch the livestream by visiting this link: [insert link]. Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to support the advancement of scientific research in Africa!

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit – MARS, expressed her immense pride in the 6 winners of the MARS Awards this year. These exceptional individuals have been recognized for their valuable contributions to research in the categories of ‘Best African Women Researchers Awards’ and ‘Best African Young Researcher Awards’. It is worth noting that these awards aim to empower and encourage African women researchers, who are often underrepresented in this field.

Through the Merck Foundation African Research Summit – MARS Awards, the organization is dedicated to advancing the research capacity of African young researchers and promoting their significant contributions to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

In addition to this, the winners of the ‘Best African Women Researchers Awards’ and ‘Best African Young Researcher Awards’ will have the opportunity to undergo research training at a prestigious institute in India. This will further enhance their skills and expertise in their respective fields.

Senator Rasha Kelej also shared her joy in fulfilling the promise made to the winners. Ms. Stella Irungu from Kenya was given the opportunity to attend the International Federation of Fertility Societies – The IFFS World Congress 2023, held in Athens, Greece. This four-day event provided a platform for Ms. Stella Irungu to showcase her research and network with experts from around the world.

Merck Foundation remains committed to improving the lives of people and has been instrumental in transforming the patient care landscape. Together with its partners in Africa, Asia, and beyond, the foundation has provided 1700 scholarships for doctors from 50 countries in 42 critical and underserved medical specialties. This remarkable initiative is making history and creating a positive impact on healthcare worldwide.

Dr. Rasha Kelej proudly announced that out of the 1700 scholarships available, over 535 have been awarded to doctors from 39 countries across Africa and Asia. These scholarships cover a wide range of specialties, including Fertility & Embryology, PG Diploma & Master Degree in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Clinical Psychiatry, Women’s Health, Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction & Embryology, Urology, and Laparoscopic Surgical skills. This achievement is truly remarkable and highlights the commitment to advancing medical knowledge and expertise in these regions.

During the award ceremony, distinguished guests such as Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, OFR, President of African Reproductive Care Society (ARCS), President of The Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria & Secretary General of International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), Nigeria, and Prof. Dr. Satish Kumar Adiga, Head of the Department of Reproductive Science and Coordinator at Fertility Preservation Centre, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India, were in attendance.

Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, OFR, expressed his heartfelt congratulations to all the deserving recipients of the MARS Awards 2023. He emphasized the exceptional quality of research demonstrated by the entries received and acknowledged the significant value this platform holds for African women and young researchers dedicated to health research. This recognition is a testament to the dedication and hard work of these individuals in advancing medical knowledge and improving healthcare outcomes.

The African Ministers who graced the ceremony were as follows:

  1. Hon. Dr. BARADAHANA Lydwine, Minister of Public Health and Fighting Against AIDS, Republic of Burundi
  2. Hon. Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health, The Gambia
  3. Hon. Mrs Imelde SABUSHIMIKE, Minister of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender, Republic of Burundi (Represented by Donatienne GIRUKWISHAKA, General Director for the Promotion of Women and Gender Equality)
  4. Hon. Jean Sendeza, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Republic of Malawi
  5. Madam Leocadie NDACAYISABA, Minister of Communication, Information Technologies and Media, Republic of Burundi (Represented by Mr. MANIRAKIZA Ferdinand, Permanent Secretary, Minister of Communication, Information Technologies and Media)

And now, let’s celebrate the remarkable achievements of the MARS 2023 Award Winners – the outstanding recipients of the “MARS Best Women African Researchers Awards” for 2023.

  • Stella Irungu, KENYATOPIC: Identifying Biomarkers For The Non-Invasive Diagnosis Of Endometriosis
  • Motshedisi Sebitloane, SOUTH AFRICATOPIC: Women Living With HIV Treatment Are At Increased Risk Of Premature Menopause
  • Oyeyemi Ifeoluwa, NIGERIA – TOPIC: Anticancer Effect Of A Copper(Ii) Complex With Vanillin 3-Ethyl-Thiosemicarbazone Ligand In Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Winners of “MARS Best Young African Researchers Awards” 2023

  • Afework Tadele Mekonnen, ETHIOPIATOPIC: Social Determinants Of Maternal Health In Developing Countries: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis
  • Stephene Shadrack Meena, TANZANIATOPIC: Targeting Tumor-Promoting Inflammation To Control The Growth And Metastasis Of Breast Cancer
  • Theogene UWIZEYIMANA, RWANDATOPIC: Prevalence And Risk Factors Of Maternal Near-Miss At Kirehe District Hospital In Rwanda: Implications For Improving Women’s Health In Africa

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej is thrilled to announce the opening of applications for the highly esteemed Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2024. This year, the focus will be on ‘The Role of Scientific Research in Women’s Health and Infertility & Reproductive Care’. Through these awards, the Merck Foundation aims to empower Women Researchers and young African Researchers, recognizing the vital role research plays in improving public health and healthcare capacity, with a special emphasis on women’s health, infertility, and reproductive health in Africa.

MARS 2024 will receive scientific support from esteemed organizations such as the African Union Scientific-Technical and Research Commission (AU-STRC), the African Reproductive Care Society (ARCS), the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) from India.

If you are a final year PhD student, a young investigator involved in research, or a Medical Doctor in a Postgraduate Medical Fellowship program, we invite you to submit your abstracts related to the aforementioned topics. This is an incredible opportunity to showcase your work and contribute to the advancement of women’s health and reproductive care in Africa.

  • 1) Women Health
  • 2) Infertility and Reproductive Care
  • Applicants should be primarily based at African Research Institutes and Universities, although collaboration within Africa as well as outside is also welcome.
  • Last Date of Submission: Applications can be submitted till 30th June 2024
  • How to apply: Apply online here: https://apo-opa.co/3vmV54I
  • Alternatively, Applications and abstracts can be submitted via email to [email protected]
  • along with CV (including Name, Gender, Country, University/Hospital Name, Email address, Mobile Number) and the abstract document as an attachment.
  • Entries are invited under the below categories:
  • Best African Women Researchers
  • Best African Young Researcher
  • The Winners receive a 3-month Research Training scholarship in India.

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