Deadline for proposal submission: June 15, 2015

The Women for Africa Foundation (FMxA), in line with its mission of contributing to the development of Africa through the drive of its women, is launching the SCIENCE BY WOMEN programme, with the aim to promote African women’s leadership in scientific research and technology transfer and to foster the capacity of the research centres in their home countries. The main goal is to enable African women researchers and scientists to tackle the great challenges faced by Africa through research in health, agriculture and food security, water, energy and climate change, which can be transferred into products and technologies having impact on people´s lives.

Women’s lives are significantly affected by the repercussions of uncontrolled development; however, social, structural and economic barriers limit their capacity to tackle the great challenges faced by the continent. The gender disparities in science and technology in both the public and private spheres affect Africa’s population as a whole. Narrowing this gap, which has severe consequences on the balanced and sustainable development of African countries, is vital to achieve long-term progress and equal growing.

The programme´s ultimate goal is to enable African women researchers to play a leading role in the transition of Africa to a knowledge-based and innovation-led economy.

To achieve this ambitious goal, FMxA collaborates with the Spanish ‘Severo Ochoa’ Centres of Excellence, whose prestige is unanimously recognized throughout Spain and internationally, thereby ensuring excellence in scientific research in various fields. Specifically, framework agreements have been signed with the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO,, the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO,, the Spanish National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB,, the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII, and the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT,

Each centre will host 2 senior women researchers for six-months: 2 for each centre, except the ICMAT which will host 1 researcher. Applications will be subjected to a rigorous selection process, evaluating the scientific merits and leadership of the applicants as well as the scientific quality and expected impact of their research projects. Selected candidates will receive training and integration in a dynamic, multidisciplinary and highly competitive working team, where they will be able to develop their research projects and acquire complementary skills, empowering them to transfer their research results into tangible economic and social benefits.


Deadline for proposal submission: June 15, 2015

1. Overview

The Science by Women programme will fund a total of nine six-month visiting senior research fellowships for nine experienced African women researchers in any of the following Spanish research centres of excellence.

Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)´s ultimate goal is to foster translation of scientific breakthroughs into novel and more effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

Spanish National Biotechnology Centre (CNB) focuses on the application of contemporary biotechnology to major societal challenges in health, environment and agriculture.

Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) is specialised in the science and technology of harnessing light as a pervasive and universal tool that benefit health, energy, information as well as safety, security and environment.

Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) is a prestigious biomedical research institute focused on communicable and non-communicable diseases.Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) is a prestigious biomedical research institute focused on communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT). Its goal is to generate knowledge in practically all the areas of mathematics, particularly in Algebraic Geometry and Mathematical Physics, Differential Geometry, Symplectic Geometry and Geometric Mechanics, Mathematical Analysis, Differential Equations and Applications, Number Theory, and Group theory.

Each centre will host 2 researchers, except ICMAT, which will host 1 researcher.

The preferred areas of research include:

  1. Health
  2. Energy, Water and Climate Change
  3. Agriculture and Food Safety

2. Eligibility requirements

  • Nationality of an African country.
  • Hold a PhD.
  • Contractual relationship with a university or a public or private non-profit organization based in Africa dedicated to significant scientific research in the areas indicated
  • Excellent academic record and proven track of relevant research experience
  • Solid working knowledge of English
  • At least 5 years experience leading a research group

3. General Conditions

In general, the duration of the research stays will be six continuous months. Nevertheless, depending on personal and professional needs, the planned research may be realized during two or three stays within two years after the fellowship has been awarded.

Successful candidates will have access to the following benefits:

  • Flight from their centre of origin to the host institution and back
  • Living allowance of 2.400 Euros per month to cover accommodation, personal expense and health and occupational accident insurance coverage.

Beneficiaries must devote themselves entirely to research at the assigned research centre and may not be beneficiaries of any other fellowship, grant, stipend or regular income during their research stay.

Beneficiaries might be asked to formalise their relationship with the research centre in writing. In compliance with the local laws, the Woman for Africa Foundation or the research centre (as the case may be) will, if so required in each particular circumstance by the tax and/or social security regime, retain or withold the compulsory amounts from the living allowances.

Women for Africa Foundation, in collaboration with the research centre, will help beneficiaries with the compulsory formalities in order to obtain the visa with Spanish Embassies and Consulates.

4. Deadline for applications

Deadline for applications is june 15, 2015.

Only applications submitted in English via the Science by Women microsite at will be accepted. They must include the following documents:

  • Letter of Interest (max. 1 page)
  • Full curriculum vitae
  • Fully filled form
  • Brief but concise description of the project to be developed in the Spanish host centre (max. 2 pages)

5. Selection process

Applications will be subjected to a highly competitive selection process by an international jury, including members of the Women for Africa Foundation’s Scientific Committee. The jury will evaluate the following criteria

  • The candidate’s research career, curriculum vitae and experience as independent research group leader.
  • The project’s scientific -technical quality and innovative potential.
  • The expected and measurable economic or social impact of the research project.
  • The candidate’s plan to communicate and disseminate the project’s results.
  • The proper consideration of ethical issues where appropriate.

Successful applicants will present innovative research projects that respond to the needs of African populations and that are likely to be transferred into products or patents for commercial exploitation, which have a social impact in terms of people’s welfare and quality of life, as well as an economic impact in terms of companies’ productivity and competitiveness. In case a continuous stay of 6 months does not meet the candidate’s requirements, an alternative time schedule should be proposed and properly justified.

6. Research proposals

Research proposals shall cover the following lines:

Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)

  • Basic Research
    It is the main activity at CNIO; the goal is to generate knowledge in the areas of molecular oncology, cancer cell biology, structural biology and Biocomputing that can be translated into better care for cancer patients.
  • Clinical Research
    Compromised in translating advances in cancer research to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of patients. The major goals of the CRP are the conduction of early clinical trials with novel drugs; the discovery of biomarker of drug action and disease outcome, the implementation of a strategy for personalized medicine and, the launching of a training programme in drug development.
  • Applied Research
    Comprises areas of Drug Development, to identify novel drug targets and to validate them as potential therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of cancer; and Biotechnology, focused in the development of novel biotechnological tools and reagents for cancer research

Spanish National Biotechnology Centre (CNB)

  • Health
    Molecular, structural and synthetic biology aimed to improve the diagnostics, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.
    Molecular mechanisms underlying inflammation, the processes that drive tissue-specific tumour development, as well as tumour immunology and the relationships among stem cells, inflammation and cancer.
  • Environment
    Molecular environmental microbiology aimed at engineering bacteria for biodegradation of toxic pollutants or as biosensors to monitor the presence of chemicals.
    Biotechnological applications of plants as biopharmaceutical factories or as tools to fight environmental pollution arising from spillages or the accumulation of toxic substances in the soil.
  • Agriculture
    Signalling pathways involved in the adaptive responses of plant development and growth to environmental changes and pathogenic diseases.
    Development of tools and methods to improve crop production and quality, selection of new varieties more resistant to pathogens or their modification to reduce fertiliser needs.
  • Technology
    Development and application of key technologies in structural biology, systems and synthetic biology.

Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO)

  • Light for Health: medical optical devices, photonics for clean food and clean water
  • Light for Energy: optical sensors, photovoltaic energies, new materials, graphene
  • Light for Information: optical telecommunications, quantum information, optical sensors
  • Laser Technologies: new lasers, light-based technologies for industrial processes

Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII)

  • Work methodology in creating epidemiological surveillance networks.
  • Epidemiology of cancer and the environment.
  • Methodologies records of rare diseases.
  • Diagnostics and research in emerging infectious diseases

Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT)

  • Basic Research. The goal is to generate knowledge in practically all the areas of mathematics, particularly in Algebraic Geometry and Mathematical Physics, Differential Geometry, Symplectic Geometry and Geometric Mechanics, Mathematical Analysis, Differential Equations and Applications, Number Theory, and Group theory.
  • Applied Research. There are several lines looking for applications of Mathematics: Applied Probability, Statistics and Operations Research; Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations; Mathematics and Quantum Information: Foundations and Applications.

7. Decision

The jury's final decision, which shall be dictated by the strictest criteria of meticulousness and transparency, will be published before july 15, 2015.

Successful candidates are expected to start their research projects at the assigned host institutions between september and october 2015.

8. Successful applicants’ commitments

The beneficiaries of the visiting research fellowships agree to respect and comply with the internal academic and legal regulations of the host research centre. The award of fellowships does not generate any statutory or labour relation with FMxA, and candidates commit themselves to return to their places of origin in Africa once they have finalized their research stay.

9. Monitoring of the project

Fellowship recipients are obliged to submit a final report on the results and impact of their research projects to the Women for Africa Foundation within 3 months after having finalized their research stay.

10. Results and dissemination of the research projects

The Intellectual and Industrial Property (IP) generated by the beneficiaries throughout the term of the stay at the host research centre will be regulated by the same terms and conditions which apply to the IP generated by the research personnel of the host research centre.

Submission of applications implies that the fellowship recipients grant to FMxA and the host center, in consideration of the benefits set forth in Section 3, the right to publish and disseminate the results of the chosen research projects in all forms (including, but not limited in form of working papers, electronic documents and books) and in all territories, with no detriment to the publications in scientific journals chosen by the researchers, which should in any case mention the support received by FMxA and the collaborating research centre.