The University College Hospital, (UCH), Ibadan, Nigeria, , offering world-class training, research and services/Photo: UCH

Merck Foundation recognizes best African women and young researchers

ABUJA, Nigeria, January 5, 2022/ — CEO of Merck Foundation, Senator Dr Rasha Kelej, and the scientific committee felicitated 13 winners of best African Women Researchers and best Young African Researchers of MARS Awards 2021 ceremony via videoconference for their valuable research work and contribution to empowering women and youth in STEM; Merck Foundation also announced the Call for Applications for MARS best young African and best African women researchers Awards 2022, with the aim to Empower Women & Youth in Research and STEM. 

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, conducted the Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit – MARS 2021 Awards ceremony, in partnership with the African Union, through video conference to felicitate the 13 winners from 8 African countries, for their valuable research work and contribution to empowering women and youth in STEM.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation & Member of the Egyptian Senate/Photo: Rasha Kelej/Flickr

On the occasion, Senator Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of MARS Summit, said, “I am very proud of all 13 winners who have been recognized under the 3 categories of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’‘Best Young African Researcher Award’‘Best Young African Researcher Special Awards’ for their valuable contribution, especially by African Female Scientists who are underrepresented in this field. Through Merck Foundation African Research Summit – MARS Awards, we aim to empower African young researchers & women researchers, advancing their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)”.

The award ceremony was also attended by Dr Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, African Union – Scientific, Technical and Research Commission; Prof Andrew Kambugu, The Sande-McKinnell Executive Director at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Uganda, and Prof Elijah Songkok, Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Kenya.

Dr Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, African Union – Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, emphasized, “I congratulate all the worthy winners of MARS Awards 2021. This is a very valuable platform for African women and young African researchers who are engaged and interested in health research”.

The winners of ‘Best African women Researchers Award’ and ‘Best Young African Researcher Award’ categories will be enrolled into research training at a premier research institute in India.

“I am also excited to announce the Call for Applications for our prestigious Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2022. ‘The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenges in Africa’ will be the key focus of this year. Eventually, 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”, added Senator Dr Rasha Kelej.

The MARS 2021 Award Winners are;

Winners of “MARS Best African Women Researchers Awards”

  • Regina Wachuka Mbugua, KENYA
  • Temitope Adeyemo, NIGERIA
  • Ebele Onuigbo, NIGERIA
  • Beatrice Mukami Muriuki, KENYA
  • Njua Clarisse, CAMEROON

Winners of “MARS Best Young African Researchers Awards”

  • Touwendpoulimde Isabelle Kiendrebeogo, BURKINA FASO
  • Jude Ogechukwu Okoye, NIGERIA
  • Jean-Paul Ngbolua Koto-Te-Nyiwa, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

Winners of “MARS Best Young African Researchers Special Awards”

  • Jean Claude Djontu, CAMEROON
  • Okedi Francis Xaviour, UGANDA
  • Marceline Djuidje Ngounoue, CAMEROON
  • Oppah Kuguyo, ZIMBABWE


Details for MARS AWARDS 2022

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 your CV (including Name, Gender, Country, University/Hospital Name, Email address, Mobile Number) and the abstract document as an attachment.

Other Details:

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

Report distributed by APO Group on behalf of Merck Foundation.

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About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation (; Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( , YouTube ( and Flicker (

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