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Table 4 Examples of NGS program outputs and outcomes

From: The Next Generation Scientist program: capacity-building for future scientific leaders in low- and middle-income countries

Fellowship research focus Outputs and outcomes
Development of a methodology (e.g., laboratory protocol or standard operating procedure) A medicinal chemistry doctoral student from Kenya improved chemical inhibition phenotyping assays used to predict drug-drug interaction potential of new molecular entities [23]; the method was subsequently transferred to the H3D Drug Discovery and Development Centre at the University of Cape Town where he was completing his PhD studies.
A pharmacologist from Tanzania developed a rapid and reliable reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography method for simultaneous determination of selected anti-retroviral agents and lumefantrine in human plasma [24]; the method was successfully transferred to her home laboratory, facilitated completion of her PhD, and is being used by other post-graduate students at that institution researching HIV-malaria co-infection.
A molecular biologist from Argentina developed a high-throughput screening assay for a drug target for Brucella abortus, the causative organism for brucellosis, a zoonotic infection that affects livestock and humans. Ten compounds with promising potency were identified after screening 44,000 compounds. This work facilitated completion of her doctoral thesis [25, 26] and formed the basis of a successful grant application at her research institute in Buenos Aires.
A pharmacologist from Nigeria evaluated the herb-drug interaction potential of natural products in common use in his country [27, 28]. This facilitated the completion of his doctoral studies and transfer of the in vitro metabolism study methods to his institution in South Africa, and helped to enable his subsequent post-doctoral and faculty appointment.
A cellular and molecular biologist from Brazil conducted laboratory studies to develop mechanistic understanding of cell surface immune responses of helper T cells. This facilitated continuation of his doctoral studies on Chagas disease [29]. The methodologies were used by his home laboratory to conduct in vitro assays to examine the role of the different T-cell subsets and cytokines in disease progression.
Training on planning or conduct of clinical trials A medical doctor from South Africa obtained practical skills in operational planning and execution of first-in-human (FIH) studies [14] that were subsequently applied to a FIH study of a malaria drug candidate discovered at H3D in partnership with Medicines for Malaria Venture [30]. She continues with an active clinical pharmacology research agenda including studies to understand pharmacogenetics and clinical response [31].
A medical oncologist from Brazil worked with an early clinical development team to learn procedures relating to trial protocol amendments. This facilitated direct interaction with in-house experts for input into her doctoral studies [32,33,34,35]. Upon return to her clinic in Brazil, she continued as clinical investigator on multiple oncology translational medicine clinical studies.
A medical doctor from Ethiopia compared mechanistic explanations of drug induced liver injury across multiple publicly available clinical candidates [36]. He also acquired clinical trial skills and networks to establish a clinical pharmacology unit [14] after his return to Ethiopia, and has an active senior role in multiple aspects of clinical research.
Access to laboratory equipment, infrastructure and expertise A geneticist from South Africa documented genetic diversity in Black South Africans from Soweto, learned bioinformatics techniques, and constructed a large database of African genetic diversity for further analyses and training purposes [37].
A geneticist from South Africa identified a novel mutation in the CHST6 gene as a cause of macular corneal dystrophy in a Black South African family, which was used for genetic counselling of the family [38].
A drug formulation scientist from Kenya assessed alternate liposomal parenteral formulations to solubilize poorly soluble drug substances while working with the nano-technology unit. He applied these technologies to potential anti-malarial drug formulations [39, 40] as part of his doctoral studies. He currently collaborates with South African scientists and their team has been successful in grant applications relating to malaria research.
Analysis of samples or data from the fellow’s own institution A medicinal chemist from Kenya evaluated the metabolism and pharmacokinetics for a series of new deoxyamodiaquine-based compounds. This work was directly applied to the drug discovery program at H3D [41].
A pharmacognocist/phytochemist from Ghana assessed natural products to demonstrate anti-plasmodial and medicinal potential [42, 43]. These initial studies played a key role in the expansion of the natural products research laboratory at his home institution.