Celebrating Success: Class of 2023-24 PACE Graduation Ceremony


The Pharmalys Academy of Clinical research Excellence (PACE) recently held its inaugural graduation ceremony, marking a significant milestone in the journey of our pilot cohort. The ceremony, held on 14 March 2024, was a celebration of academic achievement, personal growth, and the promising future ahead for young professionals in health research in Sub-Saharan Africa and across the globe.

What is PACE?

Developed by Pharmalys CRO (Accueil | Pharmalys), PACE is the pioneer developer of an innovative professional and developmental programme in clinical research. We have created a unique learning experience that tightly integrates online interactive classrooms and practical experience via internships to deliver job ready clinical research professionals. The first pilot cohort launched in April 2023, with students from several countries enrolling onto the programme to begin their journey towards becoming a clinical research professional.

The ceremony

Marieme Ba, founder and CEO of PACE opening the PACE graduation ceremony with a welcome speech

The evening of the graduation ceremony commenced with a welcome speech by Marieme Ba, founder and CEO of PACE and Pharmalys (Instructors | PACE (pace-cr.com)). While congratulating the graduates, Marieme discussed the foundations and motivation behind the programme, addressing the global requirement for advancements in the health research industry, while also contributing to the strengthening of the African clinical trial ecosystem, and more specifically, ‘filling a gap [in the industry] within francophone West Africa’.

Virginie Fanny Dias during her speech on the employment of young graduates in Africa

Marking the first of many graduation ceremonies to come, the evening featured speeches by renowned guests. These included Professor Maimouna Ndour Mbaye, Professor of Internal Medicine at Cheikh Anta Diop University and Director of the National Centre of Diabetology in Dakar; Mrs Virginie Fanny Dias, Director of Transitions and Head of Programs – Human Capital Development at the Mastercard Foundation; and Professor Serigne Magueye Gueye, General Manager of the French-Senegalese-Rose Dieng Campus and President of the Regional Council for the training of Healthcare Professionals of the Western Health Organisation. Each speaker shed light on crucial areas of importance, including research on Non-Communicable Diseases in Africa, and education, training, and employment of Young graduates in Africa.

Professor Maimouna Ndour Mbaye presenting the diploma of Mamadou Kor Ndour, a PACE graduate

The ceremony welcomed remote guests, enabling families, staff, and instructors to participate in the celebrations via videoconference. This allowed instructors of the programme, dialling in from countries including Switzerland, Burkina Faso, France, and Spain, to personally congratulate the students on their achievements.

Once graduates received their diplomas, they were presented with a traditional patterned sach, secured with a bespoke pin over their robe, a signifier of their achievements and contributions within the programme and the opportunities that lie ahead for each of them. Following the ceremony and speeches, guests were invited to break the fast of Ramadan together, with a wonderful spread of traditional cuisine available. To conclude the evening, a competitive quiz was played, with each table teaming up against one another. The theme of the quiz was of course, focused on health research, among other topics such as general knowledge and sports.

Professor Serigne Magueye Gueye during his speech on the training of young graduates and careers in clinical research

Beyond the PACE graduation celebration

As Marieme Ba noted in her speech, the PACE graduation ceremony was not just a culmination of the students efforts, but ‘a celebration of [the graduates] future endeavours’. With this in mind, as we reflect on the ceremony, we also wish to celebrate the successful launch of the PACE programme and its role in filling a critical gap within health research education. The ceremony has emphasised our excitement for the future of PACE and the importance it holds in expanding opportunities in health research for young adults in Africa and across the globe. We look forward to welcoming more learners to PACE to experience our programme and build strong foundations for successful careers in clinical research.

Congratulations to our wonderful graduates once again, and here’s to a bright future filled with growth, learning, and impactful contributions. Join us as we continue to shape the next generation of professionals in health research (PACE | Pharmalys Academy of Clinical research Excellence (pace-cr.com)).

Thank you to all the staff at Terrou Bi Hotel, Dakar, Senegal, who helped us in organising and delivering a special evening of celebrations.

The graduates of PACE celebrating their success and throwing their mortarboards in traditional fashion