• Blog Post

Hosting African fellows: A Success Story

Publish Date

14 SEP 2018


Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany's participation in the EDCTP (European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership) Fellowship Scheme turned up to be a success from a professional and human perspective.

Our company is very engaged to enhance the quality of life around the world by improving health globally and providing health solutions and services to underserved communities.

Being able to enhance capacity and expertise in the world’s poorest countries is certainly an important target for the Company in the context of its integrated approach to deliver solutions for the most vulnerable populations.

This is the reason why Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, through the involvement of the Global Health Institute, has been amongst the host organizations of the EDCTP Fellowship Scheme – a program that aims at supporting researchers and key members of clinical trial research teams from Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) to acquire specific skills in clinical research and development through placements in pharmaceutical companies, product development partnerships and research institutions.

EDCTP was created as a European response to the global health crisis related to poverty-related infectious diseases. This research funding partnership aims to accelerate the clinical development of new or improved medicinal products while also strengthening African clinical research capacity. EDCTP is a partnership between countries in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and the European Union.

Back to the fellowship, the success story is called Isidore Traore; a Medical Doctor, with a Master degree in biostatistics and a PhD in epidemiology who joined the Global Clinical Operations (GCO) organization at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, for 15 months to enhance his skills in the area of clinical practices and operations.

Highly motivated, Isidore arrived at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, from Burkina Faso, specifically from the Centre Muraz in Bobo-Dioulasso where he has been working with increasing responsibilities as of 2001.

And now one year later, back in his country, he is implementing all the learnings and advanced knowledge through a series of activities: creation of modules and delivery of trainings on clinical operating practices; preparation and submission of clinical trial protocols; definition of new research initiatives for new collaborations and to raise funding as well as coordination and management of research projects; coaching activities delivering scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals; development of local clinical capabilities leading to assessment of new opportunities for implementation of clinical studies in Burkina Faso!

It also allowed Isidore to step up with his carrier, obtaining the position of Assistant Professor at the University of Bobo-Dioulasso.

At Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, I have learnt to be more self-confident and to work efficiently. I am now sharing these skills with my colleagues in Burkina Faso

The success story is also called Oliver Leip and David Schumacher:

The colleagues in the Global Clinical Operations (GCO) organization who invested and engaged so well into this experience.

Oliver (Director, Oncology Therapeutic Area Head for GCO) has been the mentor of Isidore throughout his fellow.

We certainly ‘Walk the talk’ through this initiative from a business and social perspective. In addition, from a program that can look purely professional and technical, I could benefit from a wonderful personal experience that will last for life.

David (Head of Financial Planning and Analysis for GCO) has been a great host, preparing to warmly receive Isidore in the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, premises in Darmstadt and to efficiently run the program throughout the whole duration.

His expertise and teaching have allowed Isidore to acquire the financial components of clinical trials as well as the tools for planning and performance analysis, complementing the learning on all the clinical operations practices he received.

It was a really interesting time for me, being part of the fellowship program and learn more about Isidore’s culture.

To conclude, beyond some process and administrative challenges especially for the on-boarding, all have profited from this experience.

It brought value and insights on an African country to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, while fostering Company’s reputation and positioning.

It enhanced professional clinical skills and knowledge for the fellow and his country while potentially opening new opportunities and collaborations.

And, last but not least, it established for-life personal relations which are so rewarding and generate so much motivation for all!