Beyond Good Intentions – The Research Fairness Initiative

Moderator: Ms Linda Nordling, Research Africa

Panelist: Prof Edwin Constable, University of Basel

Panelist: Prof Carel Ijsselmuiden, COHRED

Panelist: Ms Sheila Mburu, UK Collaborative on Development Sciences

Panelist: Prof Mapaseka Seheri, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Panelist: Prof Stuart Taberner, University of Leeds


All countries need strong research and innovation systems to address national health, nutrition and development priorities – and to become and remain globally competitive to attract investments and the best human resources.

Achieving this requires a long-term vision, sustained and predictable funding, and effective and fair partnerships – nationally, continentally, globally. The two crucial elements are : i) long-term national leadership, and ii) fair, equitable research partnerships geared towards and supportive of this national vision and commitment.

This Session focuses on optimizing research and innovation partnerships because these are essential for access to knowledge, people, funds, materials, ideas, and more. No country is able to climb the development ladder on its own – and even once a country is at the top, partnerships remain as relevant to staying there as they were to getting there – provided these partnerships are fair.

And this is the issue this session addresses: in spite of the overwhelming importance of partnerships in creating resilient and competitive institutions and countries, there is no systematic and comprehensive framework to assess fairness and impact of partnerships. We have to re-invent the wheel every time again. There is no global evidence base nor a global learning platform on what works, where, and under what conditions.

In this session we present the Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) as a first global reporting system focusing on creating transparency, generating the evidence to develop better practices and standards, providing a metric for assessment of impact and for the conduct of due diligence.

This session brings together key European funders and partners of South Africa to share – with SFSA 2017 – their own institutional and national approach to creating fair partnerships and reflections on the potential of the RFI to support this.

 Ms Linda Nordling, Research Africa

Linda Nordling is a science journalist and editor. Over the last 15 years she has written extensively about research policy and science funding with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa. She is published in Nature, Science, The Guardian and VICE. She is the founding editor of Research Africa, an online platform that helps African researchers access funding. She has led training programmes to improve communication between African scientists and journalists. Recently she has written extensively about the inequality in research partnerships between North and South. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband, her cat and her horse.


Professor Edwin Constable, DVC University of Basel

Professor Edwin (Ed) Constable was born in Scotland in 1955 but moved to the south of England shortly afterwards. He studied chemistry at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, and doctoral studies were also in Oxford, where he worked with Professor Ken Seddon on the design of metal complexes for solar cells. He then moved to Cambridge where he held sequentially an 1851 Research Fellowship, a University Demonstratorship and Lectureship and was a Fellow of Darwin and Robinson Colleges. In 1993 he accepted a call to the Chair of Inorganic Chemistry in Basel where he remained until 2000 when he returned to the United Kingdom to a Chair of Chemistry in Birmingham.In 2002 he returned to Basel where he currently holds a Chair of Chemistry. He was Research Dean of the Faculty Sciences and is currently Vice-Rector for Research of the University.

His scientific interests and expertise lie in metallosupramolecular and materials chemistry, especially in the use of metal ions for the assembly of novel architectures incorporating specific electronic or photophysical properties. He is a highly cited researcher and has published over 500 research papers and many books. and is actively involved in industrial collaborations, national and EU funded programs relating to interfacial and heterogeneous chemistry and their application to nanoscale electronic, catalytic and electrocatalytic devices. Interest centres upon the development sustainable materials chemistry for dye-sensitized nano crystalline solar cell and OLEDs and related lighting technologies. He received an ERC Advanced Grant (2011-2016) for his project LiLo (Light-In, Light-Out) relating to sustainable materials chemistry and is actively involved in the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. He runs the research group jointly with his wife, Professor Catherine Housecroft.

He has been involved in the assessment and development of educational programmes in many European and middle Eastern countries and is a frequent speaker at public and scientific meetings for the public awareness of science as well as presentations on sustainable next generation technologies.


Prof Carel Ijsselmuiden, COHRED

Carel is a physician, epidemiologist, public health practitioner, academic and social entrepreneur, with qualifications from universities in Belgium and Netherlands (MD), South Africa (FFCH) and the United States (MPH).He spent 7 years in rural medicine and public health (Elim Hospital), 4 years in peri-urban (Alexandra Clinic) and urban health care (Johannesburg City Council) in HIV/AIDS control and environmental services management before working 5 years as senior lecturer at the Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA). He became Head of Department of the Department of Community Health at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 1995, and founding Director of its School of Health Systems and Public Health in 1999. He was appointed as Executive Director of COHRED in 2004 and relocated to Geneva, Switzerland.He has driven the concept of ‘research and innovation for health’ as an essential driver for global development. He holds ex-officio observer positions at the WHO, World Intellectual Property Organization, and the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council. He continues teaching and research as adjunct professor in the School for Applied Human Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.He has published in applied research, nutrition, immunization, environmental health, global public health education, research system development and ethics of international collaborative health research. Focusing on the applicability and scalability of his research, he is working on two major services aimed at advancing global research and innovation for health – RHInnO Ethics ( and the Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) (


Ms Sheila Mburu, UK Collaborative on Development Sciences

Sheila Mburu is a Research and Policy officer at the UK Collaborative of Development Sciences, an organisation bringing together 14 UK government departments and research funders working in international development. Sheila’s role involves providing research and policy advice to UKCDS’ member organisations (7 government funders, 6 research councils and The Wellcome Trust) and key stakeholders. Sheila joined UKCDS in April from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she worked with the MRC Unit in The Gambia, and her background is in global health and nutrition research.



Prof Mapaseka SEHERI, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Prof Mapaseka SEHERI is the Deputy Director of the SA/MRC Diarrhoeal Pathogens Research Unit, a WHO Rotavirus Regional Reference Laboratory at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University. She completed her BSc(Ed) and BSc(Hons) at the University of North-West and continued with MSc and PhD in Medical Virology at the University of Limpopo Medunsa Campus. Her PhD dissertation was entitled “Burden of Rotavirus Disease and Molecular Characterization of Rotaviruses at Dr George Mukhari Hospital from 2003-2005”. The research that has provided the South African Department of Health with the necessary baseline data require before the introduction of rotavirus vaccine in the South African Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI-SA) to prevent childhood morbidity and mortality. She received a research fellowship with the University of Ghent, Belgium and a visiting research fellow at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for immunization and Respiratory Diseases (Atlanta). Prof Seheri is currently working with WHO AFRO in collaboration with Ministries of Health (MoH) in Africa to generate data on the circulating rotavirus strains in the region and to support awareness and regional advocacy for the introduction of rotavirus vaccines. She is a member of the following professional committees; National Authority of polio containment (NAC), Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University School of Medicine Research Ethics Committee, Assessor of Health Professionals Council of South Africa Intern Medical Scientist Training Programme. Prof Seheri has published 40 peer-reviewed articles in international journals, presented more than 80 papers at scientific conferences both locally and internationally and C-3 rating from the NRF.


Prof Stuart Taberner, International and Interdisciplinary Research

Professor Stuart Taberner joined the Research Councils in January 2017, as the director of international and interdisciplinary research on an 18 month secondment from the University of Leeds. Stuart works within the Executive Directorate which provides support to the Research Councils in overlapping and collective areas of interest and is responsible for strategic focus, operational support and guidance for GCRF ODA reporting, the development of a strategic International narrative for Research Councils and the development of the Global Challenge Research Fund to operation at programme/portfolio as well as project level.

By | 2017-11-30T12:14:30+00:00 October 9th, 2017|