Home Fellowships, Studentship & Scholarships Call for Applications! TDR Clinical Research Leadership fellowship programme


TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, is a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty. It is co-sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Clinical Research Leadership (CRL) fellowship programme, launched in 2023, is based on four pillars:

  • Pillar 1:    Improved clinical research skills obtained through flexible placement of fellows at Training Partner Organizations (TPOs).
  • Pillar 2:    Strong clinical research leadership skills acquired through customized learning, coaching and leadership experience at the home institution, geared to each fellow’s needs and interests.
  • Pillar 3:    Enhanced gender equity promoted through active measures to ensure fair participation of women and men and people who do not fit into these binary gender identities.
  • Pillar 4:    Strengthened institutional capacity by maximizing the fellow’s contribution on re-entry.

This new fellowship programme will maximize the value of the clinical research skills obtained through the placement at a TPO by focusing on research leadership, with fellows using their clinical research skills, in conjunction with competencies and capabilities to effectively communicate with, and support, members of a multidisciplinary team. Several actions identified through the contest challenge and focus group discussions with previous fellows will be put in place to enhance gender equity, by increasing the participation of women. An institutional development plan will enable the fellows to maximize their contribution to strengthening their institution on re-entry, as well as developing and managing a research team to undertake a research study.

The CRL training will provide support for a maximum of  24 months to fellows selected through open competition, including placement with a TPO, re-entry at the home institution and institutional development.

The Clinical Research Leadership programme builds on the experience of the Clinical Research and Development Fellowship (CRDF) programme.

Since 1999, a cumulative total of 112 fellows (26 women, 86 men) from 36 LMICs have been selected to be placed with 31 partner organizations. All fellows returned to their home institutions except one who has played a pivotal role in a wide range of R&D projects, including trials for new candidate vaccines and drugs.


The purpose of the CRL fellowship programme is to provide funding support to researchers and clinical trial staff from LMICs to acquire essential skills in clinical research and development through placements in TPOs. The scheme targets early- to mid career researchers or clinical trial staff who are employed by a legal entity in an LMIC where they are currently conducting clinical research activities in the scope of TDR.

TDR will fund selected fellows to be placed in TPOs to train and develop new research skills on poverty related infectious diseases, including COVID-19, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and NTDs. Fellows can only be funded once under this grant scheme. Grants awarded are not transferrable from one individual to another. Placements in TPOs are for a maximum period of twelve months followed by a reintegration period of twelve months in their home institution. Fellows must be committed to return to their home institution for a minimum of two years after completion of the fellowship. Fellows should be able to demonstrate how the experience gained during the training programme will be applied upon return to their home organization.

Expected impact
The aim of the CRL fellowship programme is to develop additional human resources that will increase the amount of high quality research and development of required interventions against poverty related infectious diseases, including COVID-19, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and NTDs in LMICs. Fellowships are expected to add significantly to the development of the best and most promising researchers and maximize their contribution to improve the function of research institutions in LMICs, including training of their peers. The programme will strengthen collaboration between research institutions, clinical researchers and staff, pharmaceutical companies and PDPs. The programme will also contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

TPOs may offer placements in the following areas: design and conduct of clinical trials, including operational planning, management and evaluation; clinical development of vaccines, including associated epidemiological studies; assessment of drug development programmes; diagnostics; biostatistics/ epidemiology; data management and pharmacovigilance.


At the deadline for submission of applications, the fellow should:

  • be a national of, and resident in, an LMIC.
  • be a postgraduate (MSc or PhD) or medical/pharmacy graduate conducting clinical research activities in the scope of TDR.
  • have obtained their first degree within 15 years of submission of the application
  • have been a researcher or clinical staff member employed for the last 12 months in an institution with a registered legal entity in an LMIC conducting clinical research activities in the scope of TDR.

Application procedure
The application should be sent in electronic format (Word or PDF only) to cdftdr@who.int (no application form is required). Reference letters must be attached electronically. The following information should be provided:

  1. Full name, with the family name(s) underlined.
  2. Date of birth, gender and nationality (copy of information page of passport or other identification document may be requested later).
  3. Name, address, telephone number and e-mail address of the institution where the applicant is employed. All applicants must have permanent employment.
  4. Telephone number and e-mail address for personal contact and possible interview (if not the same as institutional telephone number in #3 above).
  5. Educational qualifications, including place of study and graduation date (transcripts and copies of qualifications are not required but may be requested later).
  6. A description of each of the following, each 1-page maximum:
  • The applicant’s current post and of the post held immediately before.
  • The applicant’s current work/research interests, including disease(s) interest.
  • Competencies and skills the applicant would like to acquire during the fellowship.
  • How the applicant, if selected, plans to apply the acquired skills and knowledge after returning
    to home country/institution.
  1. An endorsement from the Director of the applicant’s home institution testifying the ability of the applicant to successfully undertake the training proposed and certifying that the applicant, if selected, will be financially supported as a leave of absence. The Director has also to indicate how the proposed training will strengthen the institution’s capability to conduct clinical research upon the return of the fellow.
  2. A list of the applicant’s publications and other abstracts or presentations.
  3. A letter of recommendation from two senior scientists/professors that includes their full name, address, telephone number and e-mail address to be scanned and included with the application.

    Deadline for submission of proposals: Applications must be received at cdftdr@who.int by 17:00 (CET) on 15 March 2023.

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