Celebrating a Decade of Research Capacity Building 


20th – 21nd June, 2018 | Nairobi, Kenya


Since its establishment in 1989, the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme has  been committed to building local capacity for research in parallel with carrying out high quality research on health issues that affect Kenya and Africa.  Initially this was largely done on an adhoc basis due to lack of dedicated training funding.  In 2008, the Programme received a £11 million Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust for capacity building and embarked on an ambitious plan to develop a critical mass of African research leaders. In 2016, the Strategic Award was succeeded by another £8.3 million grant from Wellcome Trust and DFID designated the “Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders” (IDeAL) to run until 2020.

With this funding we developed a comprehensive framework for capacity building with a strong focus on attracting young Kenyan graduates to health research, providing high quality Masters and PhD training and supporting the progression of those we trained up the research career ladder.  Since  2008 we have supported the training of nearly 80 PhDs with 44 more under training currently, over 100 Masters students and over 200 graduate interns. Most of these trainees, as illustrated in the appended facts and figures sheet, have remained in research and gone on to undertake the next levels of training through to research leadership. Importantly, the beneficiaries of this scheme have continued generating a large amount of high quality research that impacts on knowledge, health policy and practice in Kenya and globally.

The Programme also recognizes it is not possible to carry out high quality research without the support of well-trained technicians, field staff, research managers and operational staff. As such, the Programme created a managed system for Continuing Professional Development of staff. Through this system the Programme has supported large number courses for these cadres of staff as a way of enhancing  research support system.

We appreciate that there is still much more to do if we are to bridge the huge research capacity gap that the Kenya faces, nonetheless we are proud of what we have achieved so far. It is very satisfying to see people who started off as interns and research assistants in the Programme climb up the research career ladder and become independent grant-holding researchers who are now mentoring the next generation of researchers.

The aim of the conference is two-fold;

1. To celebrate and showcase the output, outcomes and, corresponding scientific impact of our capacity building endeavour over the last ten years and to reflect on IDeAL’s plans going forward.

2. To provide a platform for researchers and academicians and actors from the private sector and other stakeholders to discuss cross-sectoral collaboration in building health research capacity in Kenya and the region.


Dr. Sam Kinyanjui, PhD
Director, Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL) &

Head of Training, KEMRI – Wellcome Trust Research Programme