Our Story

Researchers for Global Health (R4GH) was launched in 2015 to consolidate a young but growing partnership. During the years preceding the founding of R4GH, a highly motivated team of researchers had paved the way for a successful medical research collaboration between the University of Zurich (UZH) in Switzerland and the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

The origins of R4GH go back to 2008 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the University of Zurich and the Makerere University. This agreement laid the foundation for a strong partnership in health research. In 2010, R4GH initiators Andrew Kambugu and Jan Fehr started an exchange to identify clinical research questions that they could more effectively address by working together. Over the following years, researchers from IDI and UZH have engaged in a productive research partnership, which has primarily focused on establishing a cohort of HIV/TB co-infected patients at IDI. The partnership has attracted the attention of additional partners in the field of pharmacokinetics and others to leverage the available research platform. In the framework of this platform a variety of nested projects were started. Additionally, the research collaboration has been a suitable vehicle for research capacity development.

As the partnership grew from a single research project into a multifaceted research, education, and clinical care platform, a second study, focusing on the emerging challenge of HIV drug resistance was launched in 2015. HIV resistance patterns from 2700 HIV-infected individuals from the adult clinic at IDI will be compared to the HIV resistance patterns found in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS). This project exemplifies the transnational approach of R4GH which strives to find solutions to global health challenges by making best use of all available resources – human, intellectual, technical, infrastructure – in the North and the South.

So far, we have concentrated our activities on HIV and TB. In the future, we plan to expand our research portfolio to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as well as zoonotic diseases, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). In the summer of 2014, IDI hosted the symposium “One Health from Different Perspectives” in order to widen the scope of the partnership. One year later, a follow-up symposium in Zurich further strengthened institutional ties and led to the creation of R4GH.

Our Mission & Principles

R4GH’s mission is to address global health challenges through a mutually-beneficial global partnership, building upon the three pillars of research, education, and clinical care. Our activities are driven by fundamental clinical research questions that affect patients around the globe.

The three pillars of R4GH are closely interconnected to achieve the greatest impact. Clinical questions define our research, which in turn shapes our education and training. Through education and training, our findings feed back into clinical care to complete the cycle.

To create a sustainable, long-lasting partnership we are committed to investing in young researchers, clinicians, and laboratory technicians. Education and training play vital roles in our research activities, and they are essential for the translation of our research findings into practice. To enhance capacities and share expertise, R4GH has a strong emphasis on the training and exchange of young researchers, clinicians, and laboratory technicians between the partners.

As part of a new generation of North-South health collaborations we see R4GH as a mutually-beneficial partnership between equals. We are jointly working on health challenges that neither the Global North nor the Global South can solve alone. To create effective and sustainable partnerships, R4GH is guided by a number of core principles to build mutual trust and shared ownership. To achieve this, R4GH partners committed themselves to setting the agenda together; promoting mutual learning; enhancing capacities; pooling profits and merits; and applying the results of their research.*

* R4GH follows the principles set forth by the Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) in A Guide for Transboundary Research Partnerships.

The Partners

The partnership between health researchers from the University of Zurich (UZH) in Switzerland and the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda has organically grown over several years. The relationship between the involved researchers is founded on mutual trust and shared ownership. The partnership is made possible by the team’s dedication and the support it receives from the IDI and UZH. Each researcher and partner institution contributes unique strengths and competencies to R4GH.

IDI is a well-recognized center of excellence of regional importance. It has a strong commitment and proven track record in research, education, and training. With a focus on infectious diseases research, capacity building and service delivery it is a prime partner for international research collaborations. IDI seeks to deliberately develop and enhance research capacity through institutional research partnerships, especially in the area of basic and translational science. With its quick and determined response to the devastating HIV/AIDS crisis, Uganda has acquired a unique set of competencies and knowledge, which are invaluable to the global community in the fight against HIV/AIDS. IDI provides care and treatment services to over 110,000 people living with HIV, amounting to about 13% of the national effort.

Like its Ugandan partner institution, UZH brings distinct and diverse strengths into the partnership. As a leading University in Medicine, UZH has five university hospitals and the largest medical school in Switzerland. Thanks to its location in the research hub of Zurich, it has unique opportunities to engage in collaborations with other universities and the private sector, both in Switzerland and abroad. With the long-running Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS), established in 1988, Switzerland has a powerful tool for the investigation of HIV-infected patients.

Makerere University, Kampala Uganda Infectious Diseases Institute, Kampala, Uganda University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Project Funding

R4GH-associated projects receive generous donations and in-kind support from various foundations, corporations, and public institutions. We would like to thank all of the supporters for contributing to the success of our partnership projects.

HIV-Aidsseelsorge Zürich AbbVie
Makerere University Bristol-Myers Squibb
Jacobs Foundation Gilead Sciences
Lunge Zürich Janssen
Makerere University Merck Sharp & Dohme
Swiss HIV Cohort Study Roche Diagnostics
Swiss National Science Foundation Shimadzu
University Children’s Hospital Zurich ViiV Healthcare
University Hospital Zurich HANELA-Stiftung
University of Basel Uniscientia Stiftung
University of Zurich Stiftung für wissenschaftliche Forschung UZH