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Seth Amanfo

Expertise in infectious disease research and a PhD scholarship drew Dr Seth Amanfo to Edinburgh. Still based at the University, the 2018 graduate now helps to manage a £7 million global health research programme, Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA).

Name

Seth Amanfo

Degree 

PhD in Immunology and Infection Research

Year of Graduation 2018

Your time at the University  

Seth Amanfo

I was attracted to Edinburgh based on the University’s long-standing leadership in infectious diseases research, especially in malaria, which was the focus of my research. The interest of my supervisors in my work and personally development, as well as the award of a University scholarship were equally important in choosing the University of Edinburgh.

Besides my research I found the University to be a place that provides several opportunities for the personal development of its students. My interaction with the alumni community in my ambassadorial capacity also gave me a good insight into career prospects and destinations following graduation.

As an African (from Ghana) who had the opportunity to study at Edinburgh by virtue of a scholarship, a notable experience and favourite memory was my contribution to the University securing the Mastercard Foundation grant to support young African scholars.

I participated in the pre-award site visit hosted by Professor James Smith (Vice-Principal International) and gave a presentation to Mastercard Foundation's Deputy Director for Education and Learning, making a positive and compelling case, on behalf of the University, for the support and opportunities available for African students to access higher education.

It has been a delight to see successive cohorts of young African scholars come through this important training and leadership programme who will one day make an impact in their communities, countries and continent.

In order to acquire leadership and other transferable skills, I took on voluntary roles, becoming a member of the University Senatus Academicus and a postgraduate representative on the Health and Safety Committee of the School of Biological Sciences.

To supplement my income I worked part-time with the Development and Alumni Office as a student caller, interacting with the alumni and donor community and inspiring them with the success stories of students who benefit from their generosity. I also taught undergraduate courses in biological and biomedical sciences and further developed my teaching skills by undertaking courses leading to an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

If I were ever to start all over again, Edinburgh would definitely be the one and only institution I would choose as a destination for my PhD studies.

The highlight of my current role was to represent TIBA at the 68th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Regional Committee in Dakar, Senegal (27-31 August 2018). This meeting was attended by Ministers of Health and delegations from 47 African countries as well as international stakeholders with interest in health.

Dr Seth AmanfoResearch Coordinator, TIBA, The University of Edinburgh

Your experiences since leaving the University

Following the submission of my PhD thesis in November 2017 I took on the position of Research Coordinator at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Unit Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) at the University of Edinburgh.

My role involves managing a £7 million global health research programme in infectious diseases and strengthening national health research systems (NHRS) across nine African countries (Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe). This is certainly a new career path for me, but the transferable skills acquired during my training at University of Edinburgh have equipped me to adapt very quickly in my new role, which I am enjoying very much.

The highlight of my current role was to represent TIBA at the 68th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Regional Committee in Dakar, Senegal (27-31 August 2018). This meeting was attended by Ministers of Health and delegations from 47 African countries as well as international stakeholders with interest in health.

I gave a speech at a high-level meeting of African Union policy makers, strategic partners and participating African states of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Titled ‘Engaging African governments to strengthen national health research systems with complementary international cooperation’, I highlighted what the TIBA partnership is about and how our programmes align with and contribute to strengthening national health research systems in Africa. This was well received by the ministers, some of whom had further discussions with me on how their countries could come on board. I also had an opportunity to interact with the Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros.

I look forward to contributing my very best for the success of the TIBA partnership and more importantly, to ensure that our research makes an impact in the lives of the many people in my continent who are affected by the diseases we work on.

Alumni Wisdom

I took on additional roles and responsibilities during my studies including teaching, serving in ambassadorial capacity in promoting the University to alumni and donors, membership on various committees, and volunteering at science festivals to share my research with school pupils.

Research can be daunting, often with no results or data to show for the hard work and time you have invested in the laboratory. The opportunity to focus the mind on other exciting things (such as those listed above) makes it more fulfilling and refreshing to return to the laboratory with new ideas and inspiration. I encourage all students, especially international students to be involve in extracurricular activities and enjoy the City of Edinburgh and Scotland in general.

Related Links

TIBA Partnership (external link)

School of Biological Sciences

Africa-led research to tackle the challenge of infectious diseases

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme