Merck Foundation launch MARS Best African Woman Researcher Awards

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 February 2022

Merck Foundation has launched its annual “MARS Best African Woman Researcher Awards” to acknowledge women in science. Merck Foundation works closely with African policy makers to empower girls in education and women in STEM.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation, Most Influential African (2019, 2020 & 2021) emphasized, “We at Merck Foundation mark ‘International Day of Girls and Women in Science 2022’ by supporting and empowering women in the areas of Science and Technology. Under-representation of women still exists in these fields, even though women have made tremendous participation and progress in career. Every year, we conduct “Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit” in partnership with African Governments and African Union Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, MARS brings together researchers and policy makers from across Africa to prepare for the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for excellence in scientific innovation and define interventions to empower women and youth through education in general and in STEM in particular.

“We have also launched MARS Awards to appreciate and recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers’ and ‘Best Young African Researcher’. Our aim is to empower women and young African researchers, advance their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)”.

Merck Foundation has announced the Call for Applications for their prestigious Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2022. The key focus for this year will be: ‘The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenges in Africa’.

Through this contest, Merck Foundation aims to empower young African researchers & women researchers to strengthen the important role research plays towards contributing to public health thus improving healthcare capacity in Africa.

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej further emphasized, “In partnership with the African First Ladies, we have been building healthcare capacity through providing training to healthcare providers in many medical specialties. More than 1200 medical graduates have benefitted from this program so far. I am very proud that out of these over 552 are female medical graduates. This is close to 50% of the total beneficiaries, which is a great milestone for us”.

Merck Foundation says it strongly believes that Education is one of the most critical areas of women empowerment. Through their ‘Educating Linda’ program, Merck Foundation has been supporting education of some of the unprivileged but brilliant girls by providing scholarship and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms and other essentials including notebooks, pens and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.

Merck Foundation has also released many inspiring children’s storybooks and songs on women empowerment supporting girls’ education.

  1. Watch, share & subscribe to the “Girl Can” song here, sung by two famous singers, Irene and Cwezi from Liberia and Ghana respectively:
  2. Watch share & subscribe to “Tu Podes Sim” Portuguese song, which means “Yes, You Can” in English, here, sung by two famous singers, Blaze and Tamyris Moiane, talented singers from Mozambique:
  3. Read Educating Linda Storybook, here:
  4. Read Jackline’s Rescue Storybook, here:
  5. Read Ride into the Future Storybook here:


Abstracts are invited from final year African PhD students and young investigators involved in research related to either of the following topics: 1) Cancer (specially in women) & 2) Vaccines Development. The applicants should be primarily based at African Research Institutes and Universities, although collaboration within Africa as well as outside is encouraged.

Last Date of Submission: Applications can be submitted till 31st July 2022

How to apply: Applications can be submitted via email to along with a CV (including Name, Gender, Country, University/Hospital Name, Email address, Mobile Number) and the abstract document as an attachment.

  • All Abstracts will be peer reviewed, and 15 winners will be eligible for a sponsorship to attend the MARS Summit.
  • Best three Abstracts will be eligible for Research Awards
  • Research Awards will be also dedicated for Best African Women Researchers

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