The Academy of Scientific Research & Technology (ASRT) is a national coordinating body & funding organisation for research and innovation in Egypt. It acts as the executive arm of the Egyptian Ministry of Scientific Research for the design and implementation of national programs and roadmaps. ASRT hosts sectorial councils on medical research, ethics and drug research. It is also host to strategic committees such as the national pharmacology committee and to key departments such as the patent office, and the National Innovation and Invention Development Agency, a Scientific observatory.
With more than 7 regional centres and a broad geographical coverage in Egypt, ASRT plays a wide range of roles and carries out many activities in preparedness and response to infectious diseases. These include:
“Infectious diseases know no borders, and we believe that joining forces is the best way to fight pandemics and stay ahead of emerging threats to global health. Whether we’re joining forces to fund research and innovation actions, develop new tools, or share knowledge and best practices, it’s clear that collaborative effort is key to successfully fighting infectious diseases. With GloPID-R, we can work together to improve response times and existing interventions.”
Dr. Amr Radwan, Head of Research & Innovation Management Department
The National Program for Research and Innovation in Health and Biomedical Sciences (PRISM) is the main funding and coordination program for health research in Egypt. The program funds projects with the potential to make a significant impact by developing effective interventions, improving health outcomes and providing better value healthcare. The projects have different investment timelines, focus areas and target audiences. They cover basic, pre-clinical and clinical research and specific innovation tracks including diagnostics and surveillance. The PRISM innovation scheme is designed to help researchers translate their research findings into new products, services or processes that will benefit patients and the healthcare system.
Egypt’s Knowledge and Technology Alliances (EG-KTA) program was launched 5 years ago with an annual budget of €8 million. The EG-KTA programs support partnerships in the pharmaceutical sector (including the expansion of local manufacturing of raw materials), in health research (with specific emphasis on infectious diseases), and in diagnostics. Research institutions, enterprises, and local authorities and NGOs are equally represented in each partnership. So far, 14 partnerships have been formed involving more than 135 companies and 25 research institutions in Egypt. The EG-KTA program has been credited with stimulating economic growth and job creation in the pharmaceutical and health sectors. It has also helped to improve access to essential medicines and diagnostics in Egypt. ASRT is now widening the KTA approach to include partnerships in other health areas.
ASRT’s Sponsored Research Networks (SRN) program is designed to connect eminent researchers from a variety of disciplines to promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing. The program has been highly successful in fostering research partnerships that have led to significant advances in fields such as viral hepatitis and neuroscience. SRN has also played a vital role in supporting young researchers as they develop their careers. The positive impact the program has made on the development of Egypt’s research landscape is set to continue in the future.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASRT developed a rapid response plan to identify and fund relevant, high-priority research projects. ASRT has already funded several studies on COVID-19, including socioeconomic and post-COVID research.
This program also supports:
The program is open to all Egyptians, including Egyptians abroad working in coordination with research groups and scholars at home.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) in Egypt coordinates the setting of national priorities in health research. To define the health research agenda, MRC uses multi-criteria decision analysis within a priority-setting framework covering many sectors. This enables decision-makers and researchers to make informed, effective decisions regarding the allocation of resources and the implemention of local capacities and skills. Key priorities have been identified in the principal areas addressed by MRC: infectious diseases, cancer, obesity and nutrition.
Responding rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, ASRT published a strategic study entitled ‘COVID and Post-COVID Priorities and Preparedness of Science, Technology and Innovation in Egypt’. One of the main recommendations of this study was the need to establish an Egyptian Reference Genome to continue advancing knowledge in personalized and precision medicine. Sound knowledge of the Egyptian genome and related diseases is essential to direct effective preventive, diagnostic and counselling services for prevalent genetic diseases in Egypt.
Following a competitive call from ASRT for the ‘Egypt Genome project’, a consortium, headed by the Egypt Center for Research and Regenerative Medicine (ECRRM), was awarded the grant. The national project for Egyptian reference genome was launched in 2021 with the support of ASRT and total Egyptian governmental funding of $62 million for the first 5 year phase.
The aim of the project is to establish a benchmark genome centre, create a map of the Egyptian human genome, and thereby discover and accurately determine the genetic characteristics of various diseases. The project’s scope covers three categories: the population genome, the genome of ancient Egyptians, and diseased genome.
By advancing the practice of medical genetics and genomics across the country through this large-scale project, ASRT is shifting the approach from ‘one-size-fits-all’ to more personalized healthcare.
ASRT has participated in several co-funded programs including EuroNanoMed and EraPerMED and key initiatives such as Africa-PerMed. ASRT is a member of JPIAMR and the new ERA4HEALTH.
The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 874667.