African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship (ADDRF)

Individual Capacity Strengthening Unit

RESEARCH // WHAT WE DO // African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship (ADDRF)

In line with its mission to build sustainable research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa, APHRC in partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), established the African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships (ADDRF) Program in 2008. 

 The goals of the ADDRF program are to facilitate more rigorous engagement of doctoral students in health systems research, to provide them with an opportunity for timely completion of their doctoral training, and to launch fellows as independent scholars and support them to generate and contribute to health systems and policy evidence. Taken together, these are expected to lead to higher retention of a new generation of highly-skilled and locally-trained African scholars in research and academic positions within the region.

 The African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships are awarded to advanced doctoral students who are within two years of completing their doctoral thesis at an African university. The fellowships target candidates whose dissertation topics address health policy or health systems issues. 


The Program is currently funded by IDRC, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through a grant to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for the What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls in Conflict and Humanitarian Settings project,  Pathfinder International, which aims to support two fellows working in the Population, Health and the Environment (PHE field) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is funding five fellows working on sanitation management policy and practice, focused on fecal waste management. 

Previous phases of the ADDRF program have been co-funded by the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through a project grant to APHRC, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through a grant to the Population Council for the Strengthening Evidence for Programming on Unintended Pregnancy (STEP UP) Research Programme Consortium.


  • Between 2014 and 2016, the Program awarded 60 dissertation fellowships (16 in 2014, 23 in 2015, and 21 in 2016) that were funded by IDRC (Grant Number 107508-001). 
  • In 2014, one additional fellowship supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was awarded to a doctoral student conducting research on the governance of the Free Maternal and Child Healthcare Programme in Enugu State, Southeast Nigeria. 
  • In 2015, the Program also awarded seven (7) fellowships to support doctoral research on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Vaccine Trials in West Africa. These 7 fellowships are supported by IDRC as part of a separate grant. The goal of these fellowships is to contribute to the creation of sustainable capacity and leadership to conduct HIV/AIDS prevention trials with special focus on innovations in HIV/AIDS prevention technologies, particularly HIV vaccines in the following countries: Benin, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and Senegal.
  • In 2016, two fellowships supported by DFID were awarded to doctoral students working on projects related to the prevention of gender-based violence and violence against women and girls (VAWG). 
  • The Program also continued to support 133 doctoral fellows who were awarded fellowships between 2008 and 2013 with grants from various funders including IDRC, Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) formerly the Department for International Development (DFID).

Project duration

Start Date: 2008

End Date: Continuous subject to funding

Project team

  • Evelyn Gitau – PI
  • Hesborn Wao – Head of Individual Capacity Strengthening Unit
  • Kevin Kiiru – Program Accountant
  • Winnie Chepkemoi – Grants Officer
  • Lisa Omondi – Program Administrative Assistant