GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) established its Africa Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Open Lab Programme in 2014 as part of a series of strategic investments in sub-Saharan Africa. The Open Lab Programme focused on increasing the understanding of NCDs in Africa, including examining the variations of some NCDs that are seen on the continent.
Between October 2015 and May 2016, the The Centre for Capacity Research (CCR) provided academic support to GSK to assess the capacity of key institutions in Africa to undertake high quality research into NCDs. CCR conducted a survey to generate a broad picture of the existing capacity of a number of institutions known to be working in NCDs, followed by more detailed assessments through site visits to selected institutions. The assessment reviewed both the general institutional research capability as well as the capacity to conduct NCD research, including providing an insight into research or expertise gaps where NCD research capacity could be enhanced. The CCR team met with a range of stakeholders at the institutions during the site visits and key findings were presented and discussed during feedback sessions, providing an opportunity for any discrepancies or inaccuracies and potential actions to be discussed. Through their Open Lab programme the GSK team then identified how they can best target their knowledge and skills to enhance NCD research in Africa. This examination drew upon CCR’s published academic approach to identify strengths and gaps, particularly applied in relation to NCD research.