The current cohort of Wellcome Master’s Fellows in Public Health and Tropical Medicine met their funders at Wellcome offices in London on 28th June, 2018. Wellcome organised the event, titled “Wellcome Master’s in Public Health and Tropical Medicine Day” to provide an opportunity for the Master’s Fellows in Public Health and Tropical Medicine to network with fellow holders of the fellowship and to showcase and enlighten them about the broad range of research that Wellcome supports in low- or middle- income countries.
MLW’s 2017 to 2021 fellows: Lizzie Tchongwe-Divala, Melody Sakala, Donnie Mategula, Mphatso Phiri and Rhosheen Mthawanji, attended together with fellows from other countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Vietnam, Guatemala and Sudan.
The meeting was chaired by Wellcome Career Development Lead, Dr Branwen Hennig, supported by several grants advisors, The Wellcome Director of Science, Dr Simon Kay; The International Operations and Partnership Adviser, Claire Fearn; International Engagement Relationships Manager, Georgia Bladon; The Wellcome Open Research coordinator, Diego Baptista and Wellcome Infection and Immunobiology Team Manager, Dr Sheilagh Molloy who all took turns to share their work and career and life advice to the attendees.
In addition to networking, several issues were discussed at the meeting. The fellows were updated on the change of name of several Wellcome fellowships following a recent review of the schemes. The rebranding is aimed at attracting a broader group of scientists with more diverse research backgrounds. The Master’s Fellowships in Public Health and Tropical Medicine scheme now bears a new name – The International Master’s Fellowship – as of 4 June 2018, with the current cohort the last one to bear the former name. The fellows were also updated on several Wellcome activities within low or middle-income countries including those at the Africa and Asia Programmes in Kenya Malawi, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam; at The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa and the DELTAS schemes to establish cutting-edge research and training programmes across the African continent.
The meeting also provided a platform to encourage the fellows to publish on the Wellcome Open Research platform; which is a new way for Wellcome-funded researchers to expedite sharing results from their work. There was also a discussion on how Wellcome values public engagement and the need to have creative ways to engage with the public when conducting research, even through nontraditional platforms such as social media.
The guest of honor was Professor Faith Osier from the University of Heidelberg who shared her inspiring personal story of her career development, to which Wellcome has been a major contributor. She also gave a special lecture titled “People versus Parasites: Learning to win against Plasmodium Falciparum malaria.”
Commenting on her thoughts about the meeting, Rhosheen Mthawanji said “It was a remarkable day. The event was not only well organized, but also it gave us the opportunity to be inspired by the lovely Faith Osier and meet other fellows who are completing their fellowships. The day was filled with so many speakers and activities. However, the highlight of the day for me was when we strategised on what makes a good fellowship application, this was an in-depth look at what the Wellcome Trust looks for in a candidate, this activity really gave us insights on how to approach future applications”