Instrumental Access 2020
Addis Ababa UniversityCenter for Innovative Drug Development & Therapeutic Trials for Africa (CDT-Africa)
In Ethiopia, building African capacity for clinical trials and drug development
Meet our Awardee
The Center for Innovative Drug Development and Therapeutic Trials for Africa (CDT-Africa) at Addis Ababa University (AAU) is a World Bank-funded center of excellence that aims to be an Africa-based global institution for groundbreaking medical discoveries and development.
One of its primary goals is to address inequality in access to medicine in Africa. Poor access to essential medicines in Africa is not just a health concern, but also has major economic implications. The institution is providing the infrastructure and trained personnel needed to solve health problems in both Africa and the rest of the world.
As a regional platform, CDT-Africa is dedicated to advance biomedical innovations across Africa, harnessing knowledge transfer and international partnerships effectively so as to ensure Africa plays a central role in addressing its own needs regarding access to essential medical commodities and contributes to the health and wellbeing of the world.
CDT-Africa was first established as a clinical trial unit of the College of Health Sciences at Addis Ababa University in 2014. By 2017, with support from the World Bank, this unit evolved into a regional center of excellence as part of the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence initiative (ACE II).
Research AreasCDT-Africa's research interests include building sustainable capacity for medical innovation through education and training; clinical trials; discovery and development of novel medicines; local production of medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines; and healthcare delivery innovations.
Our vision is to establish a state-of-the-art African Biomedical Discovery laboratory for students from across Africa to receive training."
Building African Capacity: Dr. Abebaw Fekadu Wassie
Abebaw Fekadu Wassie, MD, PhD, (right) professor of psychiatry and head of CDT-Africa, was trained in the UK and has spent years running applied research programs in the UK. He led the development of the Maudsley Staging Method, a way of quantifying treatment-resistant depression for more effective clinical outcomes.
When he moved back to Ethiopia, Dr. Fekadu was invited to lead the clinical trial unit at the College of Health Science in addition to running multiple complex intervention studies. To establish a world-class unit, he also had to fight against the perception that clinical trials could only be successful in developed countries.
When the clinical trial unit was established in 2014, they set out to establish global partnerships and received support from the World Bank to create a higher education program. CDT-Africa now trains students for master’s degrees in clinical trials and PhDs in translational medicine. It also provides a variety of short courses with certificates.
“The hope is that through these programs, our graduates would have hands-on experience and develop skills for medical discovery and development in drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics,” says Dr. Fekadu.
CDT-Africa's research goals are two-fold. The first is to help solve local problems like tuberculosis and soil-borne diseases that are common in Africa.
The second is to contribute to medical solutions on a global scale, helping to find solutions to problems like cancer and even COVID-19. The unit is working on a convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19 and is also working with partners on identifying plants that may have antiviral properties. These may be viable supplemental treatments for COVID-19, but the Center doesn’t yet have the equipment they need to evaluate them fully.
With equipment from Seeding Labs, CDT-Africa will be more prepared to address these challenging tasks.
“Our vision is to establish a state-of-the-art African Biomedical Discovery laboratory for students from across Africa to receive training," says Dr. Fekadu. "The key challenge for us really is equipment and the laboratory reagents that this work requires."
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Investing in a program like CDT-Africa is investing in the future of Africa and the future of the world.”
About the DepartmentLocation: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Year Established: 2017
Faculty members: 22
Students Impacted Annually: 500 undergraduate, 200 graduate
Why Instrumental Access?CDT-Africa will use equipment to support postdoctoral training and research. Instrumental Access equipment will also facilitate research on medicinal products, personalized medicine, drug design, vaccine development, and diagnostics.
About Instrumental Access
To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.