I am sitting in Heathrow airport waiting for my next flight to Cape Town (another work trip). The last time I made the journey to South Africa, I was on my way to meet three fellows joining us from Merck and bring them home to IDRI. That was three months ago and their time with us has now ended, but it seems like an appropriate point to reflect on their achievements.

The MSD Fellowship for Global Health places experienced scientists from Merck with NGOs and non-profits for three months to transfer skills and use their talents to contribute to global health. This co-hort of Merck IMG_6525Fellows marks our fourth at IDRI.

Our aims were to develop new capabilities for our group in drug discovery, adding some key skills in DMPK (drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics) to complement our existing medicinal chemistry and disease biology programs. We had three talented and dedicated fellows, from different areas of Merck, representing key skills and expertise necessary – Sana Ali, Karsten Menzel and John Limanto.

Our team hit the ground running and not only did they meet their goals, but they added new ones. They worked incredibly hard and in close collaboration with scientists at IDRI to optimize the use of sophisticated equipment and develop new protocols that we can use regularly. They also provided us with a series of training seminars on pharmacokinetics for the entire organization, which were greatly appreciated. Over and above their scientific accomplishments, the really impressive thing was how these three fellows worked together as a coherent and productive team, despite never having met before, except for a couple of telephone calls.

All in all, this was an incredibly rewarding experience both personally and professionally, as well as being a great boost to our work. If you have a chance to apply for Fellows from this scheme, I highly recommend it. We would certainly love to have more Fellows in the future.