Africa College unites more than 100 experts from academia and not-for-profit organisations from around the world to increase crop harvests by improving food production techniques and enhancing nutrition from the crops - while ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
The partnership's broad base of cutting-edge and fundamental scientific knowledge, skills and research is already being transferred and applied in sub-Saharan Africa, where one-third of the population is undernourished.
The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), active in many African countries with its main headquarters in Nigeria, and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) have joined forces with around 75 academics from the University of Leeds working in areas such as plant science, health, ecology, the environment and social policy.
The University of Leeds has also recruited two new members of staff whose main role is to develop the network and build projects in Africa. Christine Foyer has joined the Faculty of Biological Sciences as Professor of Crop Science from Newcastle University, where she was Professor of Molecular Agriculture.
Anne-Marie Mayer has joined the Faculty of Medicine and Health and becomes Africa College's Senior Research Fellow in Nutrition. Research fellows in other areas, such as food security, are expected to join shortly. A dynamic website, www.africacollege.leeds.ac.uk, has been launched and will be developed to support knowledge exchange.
Africa College was set-up in 2008 and is led by Professor Howard Atkinson of the Faculty of Biological Sciences. He said: "We have a wealth of expertise in Leeds, and aim to apply more of it than in the past through Africa College. We need other international partners to make sure that our research has impact and delivers sustainable, workable solutions to meet African needs.
"We're taking a broad and scientifically-based view of enhancing food security. We want to find ways of maximising crop production to provide a balanced diet, improve nutrition and so enhance the health of the people in Africa. At the same time, we'll be ensuring ecosystems are valued."
Africa College was originally called Human Health and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa and was set up with support from the University's Transformation Fund, which is designed to enable academics to create partnerships on and off campus to tackle major global issues.
Improving future food security will be the team's focus, amid predictions that the global population could rise from around six billion people today to around 8.3 billion in 2030, with much of the growth in the least-developed countries. It is feared that climate change will affect agricultural production for those people who are most dependent upon it.
Improving understanding of what impact climate change is having on the environment is a major strand of this work. The University of Leeds leads work in this field, and is home to the UK Economic and Social Research Council-funded Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, which it runs with the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Professor Foyer said: "Africa College is about providing the knowledge, training and on-going support to enable African people to determine their own futures.
"We are taking the University's expertise in biotechnology, medicine, ecology, social policy and the environment and combining it with expertise and practical know-how of non-government organisations to make a difference where it matters - on the ground."
Professor Tim Benton of the Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, Professor Janet Cade of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, Dr Keith Hamer of the Faculty of Biological Sciences, and Dr Andy Dougill of the School of Earth and Environment are leading aspects of Africa College's development.
Professor Janet Cade said: "This is a challenging and exciting venture. Ensuring that high quality food can be sustainably provided to poor rural and urban communities in Africa is an international priority. We aim to support this through Africa College."
External advisers to Africa College include Laurence Cockcroft, of Transparency International UK, and Professor Ruth Khasaya Oniang'o, a former Kenyan MP and Shadow Minister of Agriculture.
The Africa College Partnership recognizes that despite the contraction of the world economy, the consequences of climate change must be addressed as environmental change will reduce food security in Africa.
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £52,116
Mary O'Connell, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £46,986
Hannah Dugdale, NERC (Feb 2017), £504,138
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Richard Bayliss, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2017), £1,600,000
John Barr, EU (Jan 2017), £339,000
Mark Harris, Royal Society (Jan 2017), £250,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Jan 2017), £105,000
Alex Breeze, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (Jan 2017), £180,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2016), £18,000
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Dec 2016), £1,681,835
Brendan Davies, Leverhulme Trust (Dec 2016), £247,555
Alan Benson, Mark Drinkhill, Ed White, British Heart Foundaion (Dec 2016), £217,223
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Katie Field, Rank Prize Funds (Nov 2016), £20,000
Jessica Kwok, Royal Society (Nov 2016), £14,948
John Ladbury, Cancer Research UK (Oct 2016), £4,250
Miriam Wittmann, Martin Stacey, Edward Vital, Lupus UK
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Valerie Speirs, NC3Rs
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Nicola Stonehouse, Morgan Herod, David Rowlands, BBSRC
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Joseph Cockburn, Wellcome Trust
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John Barr, Public Health England
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Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products A/S
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Steven Clapcote, Vitaflo International Ltd
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Juan Fontana Jordan De Urries
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Jing Li, Sarah Calaghan, Mark Drinkhill, British Heart Foundation
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Sheena Radford, Alison Ashcroft, BBSRC (Sep 2016), £457,216
Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle, An-Jung Chen, David Westhead, NC3Rs
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Glyn Hemsworth, BBSRC (Sep 2016), £1,024,034
David Jayne, Paul Millner, MRC (Aug 2016), £207,860
Sheena Radford, Alison Ashcroft, BBSRC (Aug 2016), £457,215
Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle, Dave Westhead, An-Jung Chen, NC3Rs (Aug 2016), £354,456
Peter Henderson, EU - European Union
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Adrian Goldman, EU - European Union
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Eileen Ingham and colleagues in Engineering and M&H, EPSRC (Jul 2016), £3,867,449
Michael Colman, MRC (Jul 2016), £200,956
Tim Benton, Fresca Group Ltd
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Derek Steele, Sarah Calaghan, Chris Peers, BHF (Jul 2016), £819,241
Paul Millner and colleagues in Engineering and M&H, BBSRC (Jul 2016), £129,647
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Nicola Stonehouse, David Rowlands, World Health Organisation (Jul 2016), £656,545
Alexander Breeze, MRC
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Edwin Chen, Leuka
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Helen Miller, Hamlet Protein A/S
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Alexander Breeze, Syngenta
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Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust
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Amanda Bretman, Elizabeth Duncan, Leverhulme Trust
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Roman Tuma, Sheena Radford, BBSRC
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Adrian Whitehouse, Ian Carr, Worldwide Cancer Research (Jul 2016), £199,738
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Adrian Goldman, Royal Society
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Richard Bayliss, EU - European Union
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Sheena Radford, Eric Hewitt, Alison Ashcroft, Andrew Wilson, EPSRC (Jun 2016), £458,278
Jamel Mankouri, John Barr, British Lung Foundation
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Zahrah Timsah, Wellcome Trust (Jun 2016), £100,000
Andrew Macdonald, Kidney Research Fund UK
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Edwin Chen, Academy of Medical Sciences
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Adrian Goldman, Royal Society (May 2016), £250,000