Dr Pauline Essah is passionate about using research, innovation and collaboration as powerful tools for advancing health, transforming education, ensuring food security and reducing inequality/poverty in society. In her current role as a Senior Manager for Global Health at the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Pauline oversees the strategic use of Official Development Assistance funding to support sustainable partnerships between UK health researchers and their colleagues in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) around the world. Such mutually beneficial collaborations are resulting in innovative and high-quality applied health research being conducted to strengthen capacity in LMICs, advance science, promote economic growth and transform people’s lives.
Pauline is also an Independent Director/Board Member of the University of Suffolk – a young university in the UK that is aiming to change the lives of individuals and communities for the better. Furthermore, she is a UK Trustee for TReND (Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development) in Africa – a charity that is building scientific capacity and innovation across Africa.
From 2009 to 2018, Pauline was instrumental in establishing and managing the flagship, multifaceted, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary Cambridge-Africa Programme at the University of Cambridge. This programme fosters collaboration between Cambridge and African researchers and strengthens research capacity and scholarship in African institutions, by providing training and mentorship from experienced Cambridge academics. During Pauline’s tenure, Cambridge-Africa raised millions of pounds to establish long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships in 50 institutions across 18 African countries. More than 150 collaborative research projects, including some involving biotechnology, were supported in response to African priorities. A Centre for Global Health Research was also established in Cambridge, with a focus on Africa. Furthermore, 118 African PhD and postdoctoral researchers were awarded fellowships, with periodic visits to Cambridge University. The very successful Cambridge-Africa model has been adopted by other UK institutions (e.g. the Africa Oxford Initiative), to enable collaboration with and support for African/LMIC researchers.
Pauline also served as a member of the Scientific and Steering Committee for the annual UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit from 2015 to 2017, supported the establishment of Africa-focused student societies at Cambridge University, and was a member of the Board of Trustees for the student-led charity Cambridge Development Initiative from 2014 to 2018.
Prior to Cambridge-Africa, Pauline conducted three years of postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge, having earned MPhil and PhD degrees in Biological Science from that University. She obtained a BSc Honours degree in Agriculture from the University of Ghana.
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