The Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL) is a high-quality training programme designed to develop outstanding young African scientists into world-class research leaders. It is hosted by KEMRI – Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kenya. IDeAL is available to young researchers, from Undergraduate Research Attachments to Postdoctoral Fellowships, with the aim of keeping scientists at African institutions through a defined programme of recruitment, supervision and mentorship with the goal of establishing unique career paths for all students and fellows.

IDeAL is one of the 11 initiatives under DELTAS Africa (Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science in Africa) funded by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s and Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) with funding from the Wellcome Trust and the United Kingdom government.

IDeAL Team comprises over 200 persons including postdoctoral fellows, students, interns, mentors, supervisors, and the secretariat.

For more details on the schemes supported under IDeAL, visit the Programmes Page.

IDeAL builds on previous capacity strengthening activities at the KEMRI – Wellcome Trust Research Programme. As illustrated in figure below capacity building at the Programme has gone through different phases. During the earliest phase, 1989-2008, the emphasis was on building core structures to support research and training including high quality laboratory, clinical, field and ICT infrastructure. As these core structures expanded there was a gradual increase in the number of local researchers training at Masters and PhD levels, albeit on an ad hoc basis.  It eventually became clear that there was need to develop a coherent framework to manage and scale up research training activities at the Programme. This was achieved through the awarding of a Strategic Award amounting to 12 Million Pounds by the Wellcome Trust. The award supported research training activities from 2008 to 2015.

As a result of the Award capacity building activities in the Programme  expanded markedly. In addition, the award facilitated the centralisation and harmonization of capacity building management by providing a secure financial base that enabled long term planning of career paths.

In brief, between 2008 and 2015, 52 students were support to undertake PhDs and also received a further one year Postdoctoral support. 32 of these are Postdoctoral Reseachers at KWTRP and elsewhere while 8 are lecturers in local Universities. 5 have already received Wellcome Trust Training Fellowships.  88 people were supported for Masters training either directly or through support leading to the successful application for external Masters Fellowships (e.g. the Wellcome Trust Masters Fellowship). We have provided internships to  172 recent Kenyan graduates. Over 30 of who have now progressed through the research training to Postdoctoral level. Majority of the rest are either research assistants or Masters students elsewhere.

Importantly, work supported by the SA has contributed to development of a number of health policies and practice guidelines  in Kenya and Globally particularly for prevention and treatment of early childhood illnesses. In addition, it has been presented in over 200 conferences and resulted in over 300 peer-reviewed publications (>150 first author papers – >50  in journals with an Impact Factor of >4,  and > 150 non-first author papers – >30  in journals with an Impact Factor of >4.

Vision

African-led research solving African and global health issues

Mission

To generate a critical mass of African Research Leaders

Objective

Attract – To attract young African to research

Train – To provide high quality research training

Retain – To support the retention of African researchers in the Continent

Nurture – To nurture emerging African research leaders

Dr. Sam Kinyanjui

Dr. Sam Kinyanjui is the Head of Training and Capacity Building at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme in Kenya and the Director for the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL). Prior to current position he pent 16 years doing research on the immunology and molecular biology of malaria parasites. During this period he developed a strong interest in capacity building for health research in Africa.
As the Head of Training and Capacity Building at the KWTRP in Kenya he provides scientific, and strategic guidance for academic training towards research leadership. His key achievement has been the development and implementation of a comprehensive research career framework for attracting, training and retaining African research leaders. Through the framework Dr. Kinyanjui has overseen the training of over 200 graduate interns, the majority of who have taken up a research career after the internship. This scheme has now been developed into a nationally accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Health Research Methods. He has also overseen over 100 Masters and over 70 PhD training since 2008. In 2015 Dr. Kinyanjui was awarded a further 8 million pounds by the Wellcome Trust/DIFD to build on this work through the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL)
Regionally, Dr. Kinyanjui is involved in advocacy for increased commitment to building research capacity in Africa by both African governments and funding agencies. In 2006 he worked at the African Union Headquarter promoting health research agenda within the Union. He also sits on the advisory boards of several African capacity building initiatives including MUIIplus, SSACAB, SANTHE and the TDR Global Community Adhoc Workgroup.

Dr. Dorcas Mbuvi

Dr. Dorcas Mbuvi

Dr. Francis Ndung’u

Dr. Francis Ndung’u

Francis did his earlier education in Nairobi, Kenya, before proceeding to the National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK, where he did his PHD in immunology with Dr Jean Langhorne and Prof Kevin Marsh. He was awarded the PHD in 2005, after which he took up a post-doctoral training position at the same institute, and was successful at implementing a new programme of research in quantifying antigen-specific memory B cells in a mouse model of malaria. He moved back to Kenya in 2008 as post-doctoral researcher, with the aim of obtaining own funding to start and build a research group. His main areas of interest are: (i) immunological memory to malaria in historically infected individuals, and, (ii) hosts factors responsible for increased susceptibility to P falciparum malaria in a small proportion of children that experience excessively more malaria than expected.

Mwendwa Mutuku

Mwendwa Mutuku

Mutuku holds a B.A Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of Nairobi and a member of the Public Relations Society of Kenya. He has previously worked for local and international organisations such as the Africa Union/United Nations Information Support Team in Somalia, Kenya’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation and FilmAid International.

He is a passionate communication professional who has managed media and public relations for national and intergovernmental agencies and non-profits and participated in successful communications and media campaigns. He is an all-rounder with nine years of experience in public relations; digital strategy development and execution; branding and marketing; graphic design and production of multimedia content. He believes in channelling the power of media to impact lives and influence positive social change on behalf of multilaterals, socially-oriented non-profits, and private-sector creative agencies. He is highly skilled in conceptual and visual storytelling.

Liz Igombo-Murabu

Liz Igombo-Murabu

Liz Igombo-Murabu is the Students’ Administrator for IDeAL and KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme. She has spent the last 10 years playing a vital role in ensuring the smooth and efficient management of the training of nearly 150 academic trainees ranging from school leavers and undergraduates attachees, Postgraduate Diploma, Masters, and PhD students and postdoctoral fellows funded under IDeAL.

She joined the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in 1996 and has served in different capacities within the Programme. She has been the training administrator since 2008 supporting both academic training and continuing professional development of over 800 staff. She also holds a HND in Executive Assistance, a Diploma in Administrative duties from Cambridge International College, UK, Certificate on Leadership and Management in Health Systems with the University of Washington and a Certificate in Computer Operations and Business Applications from The Mombasa Polytechnic. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor degree in Executive Business Administration Programme with specialization in Management and Administration with Cambridge International College, UK.

Rita Baya

Rita Baya

Rita Baya joined KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme in June 2012 and currently holds the position of an Administrative Assistant. She is tasked with Office management, Interface administrative functions of various projects, Travel Management from Reservations, transfers, travel authorization documents, Itinerary coordination, foreign & local travels, Organize & coordinate logistics for local and international meetings, trainings, seminars, workshops, conferences. Documentation i.e. reports, filing and documents archiving. She has over 5 years’ experience in Administration and holds a Bachelor degree in Administration from Kenya Methodist University.

David Ngui

David Ngui

David Ngui joined KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme in November 2013 and is currently tasked with producing both internal management reports and grant donor reports with a key focus in ensuring timely, accurate and complete recording, reporting of financial transactions according to accounting best practice and donor reporting guidelines. He has over 5 years’ experience in auditing and finance, having previously worked as an Audit Assistant and Assistant Accountant in auditing and micro-finance institutions in Kenya.

He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology and is currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at Kenyatta University.

Pascal Mbamungu

Pascal Mbamungu

Pascal Mbamungu joined IDeAL in October 2015 as the IT Officer. He is tasked with developing and supporting IDeAL’s information systems. Prior to joining the team, he worked in the telco and PRSR industry developing innovative mobile solutions for several corporate clients. He is a seasoned software developer with over 6 years of knowledge and experience in the areas of systems design, development  and integration.

He holds a Higher Diploma in software engineering from Aptech, India and currently pursuing a BSc in information systems from the university of Portsmouth, UK.

Florence Kirimi

Florence Kirimi

Florence Kirimi joined the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in August 2016 as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for IDeAL. She is responsible for implementing the Monitoring and Evaluation activities of the Training Department, assisting the Head of Training in monitoring the Department’s activities on a regular basis, developing and maintaining the Department’s MIS and for collecting and analyzing different data in relation to the Department’s activities. She also prepares periodic reports on the training activities including those supported under IDeAL grant.

She holds a Masters’ Degree in Public Health with over 5 years’ experience in implementation of Monitoring and Evaluation for development projects which include developing M & E Plans, logical frameworks, output, monitoring and impact indicators for projects, participating in regular project reviews, Preparation of annual progress reports for feedback to donors and other stakeholders.

Dr. Alun Davies

Dr. Alun Davies

Alun Davies has over 20 years experience in science education, health research and community engagement in Kenya: nine years as a science and senior teacher at urban and rural schools in Kenya; followed by eleven years as a researcher at KWTRP. Prior his current post, Alun managed an HIV research project in Kilifi, employing 50 staff at three sites to initiate HIV clinical trials. Alun’s current role in community engagement draws on a combination of his experience in education and health research towards facilitating engagement interactions between researchers and school students. Over the past six years, Alun has established a ‘Schools Engagement Programme’ (SEP) which facilitates interactions between researchers and up to 1000 students form 25 schools a year. The activities are aimed at promoting positive attitudes towards science among secondary school students; and promoting mutual-understanding between health researchers and the community. SEP has also enabled Kilifi students’ views to be incorporated into the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party report on Ethical Issues for Research Involving Children. Alun’s current research explores ways of evaluating engagement with health research using a combination of quantitative, qualitative and participatory approaches.

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Dr. Makobu Kimani, MBChB


Makobu Kimani is a Medical Doctor, with Post Graduate training in Public Health (Epidemiology and Biostatistics). Over the last eight years he has worked with populations that are at a disproportionally higher risk of acquisition of HIV/AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya. Kimani has also been a clinical safety advisor for an RCT inducing immune-quiescence in female sex workers. He has been part of a team that defined the minimal care package for services to female sex workers and MSM/MSW. This is currently being implemented by the Ministry of health in Kenya.

Dr. Juliet O. Awori, MBChB


Juliet is working on access to care for childhood pneumonia treatment. Her work will focus on the determinants of pneumonia outcomes in children who are treated in government outpatient facilities in two rural communities in Kenya. She will describe how pneumonia treatment is given at the clinics, the treatment outcomes of children who are treated for pneumonia in these clinics and the social and cultural contexts that determine why and when these parents seek treatment for their sick children.

She is a Medical Epidemiologist with six years experience working on childhood pneumonia field studies, including a large multicenter epidemiological study and a phase 1/2 vaccine clinical trial.

Dr. Jacquie Narosto Oliwa, MBChB


Jacquie is a paediatrician and clinical epidemiologist, currently pursuing her PhD studies at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her interests lie in health systems research, specifically use of implementation science theories to improve quality of care to sick children.  Her PhD work involves understanding and improving case detection of tuberculosis (TB) in children, including use of new and emerging diagnostic tests.

Her past research work involved being an investigator on a large multi-site clinical trial on treatment of severe pneumonia in children and an observational study on optimising diagnosis of TB in children-both contributed to policy change in Kenya. She was also the lead in a project implementing use of donated medical equipment and best clinical practice guidelines to improve quality of care in maternal, new-born and child health in several hospitals in rural Kenya.

She serves on the Paediatric TB Technical Working Group, advising the Kenya National TB Programme on matters pertaining to childhood TB. She was involved in updating the Paediatric TB guidelines, developing a training curriculum and delivering training to health care workers in Kenya. She is also a member of the Union of Lung Health and the WHO Child TB subgroup-involved in global child TB policies.

Ivy Kombe


Ivy is part of the Viral Epidemiology and Control (VEC) research group at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust. Her work involves modelling the transmission of infectious diseases. She has a Masters in Epidemiology from Imperial College London and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Nairobi. Her PhD project is focused on trying to understand the spread of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an important viral cause of pneumonia, within households. The project aims to find generalizable insights about the pattern of infection spread that can inform and help to optimize intervention strategies.

Dr. Esther Muthumbi, MBChB


Esther is a Medical Doctor and a Junior Epidemiologist at the Epidemiology and Demography Department, KEMRI – Wellcome Trust. She is interested in infectious disease epidemiology and mathematical modeling. She has worked on several projects at KWTRP including an analysis of risk factors for pneumonia in adults, invasive salmonellosis in Kilifi and has coordinated research activities for the adult bacterial diseases study and SHINDA 2 study. Her current research work is focused on understanding the transmission of non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) in the community.

Publications:

  1. Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Kenyan Adolescents With α+Thalassemia. Etyang AO, Khayeka-Wandabwa C, Kapesa S, Muthumbi E, Odipo E, Wamukoya M, Ngomi N, Haregu T, Kyobutungi C, Tendwa M, Makale J, Macharia A, Cruickshank JK, Smeeth L, Scott JA, Williams TN. | J Am Heart Assoc. 2017 Apr 5;6(4). pii: e005613. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.117.005613. PMID: 28381468
  2. The Health Care Sector Response to Intimate Partner Violence in Kenya: Exploring Health Care Providers’ Perceptions of Care for Victims. Nguyen QP, Flynn N, Kitua M, Muthumbi EM, Mutonga DM, Rajab J, Miller E. | Violence Vict. 2016;31(5):888-900. Epub 2016 Aug 12. PMID: 27523028
  3. Invasive Salmonellosis in Kilifi, Kenya. Muthumbi E, Morpeth SC, Ooko M, Mwanzu A, Mwarumba S, Mturi N, Etyang AO, Berkley JA, Williams TN, Kariuki S, Scott JA. | Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Nov 1;61 Suppl 4:S290-301. doi: 10.1093/cid/civ737. PMID: 26449944

Derrick Ssewanyana


Derrick is Public Health enthusiast who is currently pursuing his PhD studies in Adolescent Health at Utrecht University, Netherlands. He previously graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science from Makerere University in Uganda and a M.Sc. Public Health from University of Southern Denmark.

His current PhD research is focused on defining the forms, patterns and underlying factors for health risk behavior of adolescents in low resource settings at the Kenyan Coast. His special focus is to examine these forms of behavior among adolescents infected or affected by HIV/AIDS at the Kenyan coast. His research will help to adapt culturally appropriate tools for measuring health risk behavior among adolescents. It will also fill important knowledge gaps for example on the impact of HIV associated executive functioning deficits and other potential determinants of risky behavior among HIV infected and affected adolescents. This shall benefit interventions and policy in the field of HIV care and management and adolescent health in general.

Derrick has previously worked on projects in water and sanitation, humanitarian healthcare, sexual health and substance abuse management programs in East Africa and Europe. Derrick enjoys sports, nature, charity drives and music.

Publications

  1. Perspectives on underlying factors for unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle of adolescents at a Kenyan coastal setting. Ssewanyana, D., Abubakar, A., Van Baar, A., Mwangala, P. N., & Newton, C. R. (2018). Frontiers in Public Health, 6,11 doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00011
  2. Health Risk Behaviour among Adolescents Living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Ssewanyana, D., Mwangala, P. N., van Baar, A., Newton, C. R., & Abubakar, A. (2018). BioMed Research International.
  3. Health risk behavior among chronically ill adolescents: a systematic review of assessment tools. Ssewanyana, D., Nyongesa, M. K., Baar, A., Newton, C. R., & Abubakar, A. (2017). Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 11(1), 32.
  4. Young people’s and stakeholders’ perspectives of adolescent sexual risk behavior in Kilifi County, Kenya: A qualitative study. Ssewanyana, D., Mwangala, P. N., Marsh, V., Jao, I., van Baar, A., Newton, C. R., & Abubakar, A. (2017). Journal of Health Psychology, 23(2):188-205. doi: 1359105317736783.

 

Dorcas Magai


My educational background includes a Masters in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in The Netherlands and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Kenyatta University, Kenya.

One in four people globally will be affected by mental health and neuorological disorders at some point in their lives, placing mental disorders among the major causes of disease and disability globally.  My great interest is understanding the etiology, diagnostics and intervention of psychopathology in children and adolescents. My focus is to determine the development of psychopathology; establishing personal, social, and biological factors that contribute to this development; the use of scientific knowledge to improve detection and diagnostics of psychopathology; and how we can influence children and adolescents’ psychopathology through preventive and clinical interventions.

My PhD project is on the long-term consequences of severe ill-health during the first 28 days of life on thinking and learning abilities, and mental health of school aged children. Specifically, I’m interested in neonatal conditions such as yellow coloring of the skin (neonatal jaundice) and inadequate oxygen flow in the brain (hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy), which are likely to injure the child’s brain and affect their development.

By examining the adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes of neonatal insults, we hope to contribute to identifying salient points of intervention to enhance the quality of life of children who experienced these neonatal insults.

 

Dr. Kenneth Munge, MBChB


Munge is a public health practitioner with background training and experience as a medical doctor. His interests are in economics of health systems, health systems, and primary care. He has experience in research, analysis and policy engagement in Kenya examining vaccine safety, health financing, strategic purchasing and economic evaluation.
His PhD is examining the capacity of decentralised governments in Kenya to raise the level of public health expenditure without harming their financial well-being (i.e. fiscal space for health) in the context of Kenya’s pursuit of universal health coverage (UHC).
He is co-leading work surveying the distribution of, risk factors for, and cost-effectiveness of diagnostic strategies for hypertension and diabetes; which is also examining the performance and capacity of the Kenyan health systems to deliver interventions to target these diseases through primary care.
He is a member of the African Health Economics and Policy Association, the International Health Economics Association and the John Snow Society.
He is part of the management group of RESYST – Resilient and Responsive Health Systems – a DFID-funded international consortium, that brings together ten African and Asian countries and is also a member of the Kenya Country Core Group for the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage.

Peter Nguhiu


Peter is a pharmacist and a health economist 10 years of work experience in clinical and public health system strengthening. He is currently examining the methods for measuring the level, distribution, and determinants of effective coverage with quality health services, using Kenya as a case study to assess country progress towards universal health coverage.

Akua Botwe


Akua has research interests in malaria vaccine development, molecular biology and immunology. She has had training in Biochemistry (MPhil. and BSc. Hons) and Botany (BSc. Hons) at the University of Ghana, and has worked as a molecular biologist at the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC) in Ghana.

Her PhD study is “simply” to understand why some infants have malaria parasites and remain healthy while other infants have malaria parasites and become ill. Her research is supervised by Prof. Anna Farnert at the Karolinska Institutet, Prof. Faith Osier at KEMRI-Kilifi and Heidelberg University Hospital and Dr. Kwaku Poku Asante at KHRC.

Akua has a passion for writing, teaching/mentoring and nurturing children who lose their mothers at birth. At leisure, she would go swimming.

Beatrice Amboko


Beatrice has a background in Nursing and a Masters in Medical Statistics both from the University of Nairobi. She has been working on quality of care given to patients with malaria in Kenyan hospitals. She is interested in looking at the quality of health workers’ performance and the determinants in providing care in health facilities.

Her PhD project is on the determinants of the quality of outpatient malaria case management in Kenyan public health facilities. The results from this project will help refine/ define interventions geared towards improving health workers’ performance.

Peter Macharia


Peter Macharia is a PhD candidate of spatial epidemiology at The Open University UK, supported by the Initiative to Develop Research Leaders (IDeAL), based at the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP).  His PhD research focuses on modelling subnational child mortality, its determinants and their contribution since 1965 in Kenya. This work will allow benchmarking, inform policies, resource allocation and the realization of SDGs

Prior to this Peter was a geospatial modeller with the spatial health metrics group within KWTRP, where he worked on mapping populations at risk of malaria, coverage of malaria interventions, access to health services and developed spatial models to quantify bed-nets needed at each health facility in Kenya

He holds a MSc in Geospatial Information System (GIS)  and Remote Sensing from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology(JKUAT), Postgraduate Diploma in Health research methods  from Pwani University and BSc in Geomatic Engineering and GIS from JKUAT

His interests are in disease mapping and spatial epidemiology (child mortality, its determinants, access and utilization to healthcare).

Peter is a member of The International Society of Geospatial Health , The GIS chapter of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya and The American Association of Geographers

Publications:

  1. Sub national variation and inequalities in under-five mortality in Kenya since 1965 (2019). Macharia PM, Giorgi E, Thuranira PN, Joseph NK, Sartorius B, Snow RW, Okiro EA | BMC Public Health 19:146 [ PMID: 30717714] [PMCID: PMC6360661]
  2. What mapping Kenya’s child deaths for 50 years revealed – and why it matters (2019). Macharia PM and Okiro EA The Conversation
  3. Spatio-temporal analysis of Plasmodium falciparum prevalence to understand the past and chart the future of malaria control in Kenya. (2018). Macharia PM, Giorgi E, Noor AM, Waqo E, Kiptui R, Okiro EA, Snow RW|Malaria journal
  4. National and sub-national variation in patterns of febrile case management in sub-Saharan Africa: an insight into public health sector service delivery. (2018). Alegana VA, Maina J, Paul O Ouma PO, Macharia PM, Wright J, Atkinson PM, Okiro EA, Snow RW, Tatem AJ|Nature Communication
  5. Access to emergency hospital care provided by the public sector in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015: a geocoded inventory and spatial analysis. (2018) Ouma PO, Maina J, Thuranira PN, Macharia PM, Alegana AA, English M, Okiro EO, Snow RW|Lancet Global Health
  6. Coverage of routine reporting on malaria parasitological testing in Kenya, 2015–2016. (2017) Maina JK, Macharia PM, Ouma PO, Snow RW, Okiro EA|Global health action 
  7. Spatial models for the rational allocation of routinely distributed bed nets to public health facilities in Western KenyaMacharia PM, Ouma PO, Odera PA, Snow RW, Noor AM (2017)|Malaria Journal
  8. Spatial accessibility to basic public health services in South SudanMacharia PM, Ouma PO, Gogo EG, Snow RW, Noor AM (2017).|Geospatial Health
  9. A national health facility survey of malaria infection among febrile patients in Kenya, 2014.Githinji S, Noor AM, Malinga J, Macharia PM, Kiptui R, Omar A, Njagi K, Waqo E, Snow RW (2016).|Malaria Journal

Kevin Wamae


Kevin has a background in bioinformatics and his interests are in malaria elimination.

Malaria is a leading cause of child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. When one is infected with the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, they may develop symptoms of malaria or carry the parasite without presenting with any symptoms. These individuals who do not present with symptoms of malaria are said to be asymptomatic. The major problem associated with asymptomatic malaria infections is they become a constant source of parasites that sustain malaria transmission.

Kevin’s is looking to employ molecular and bioinformatics tools to further our understanding of asymptomatic malaria infections. A deeper understanding of these infections will help tackle them with a goal of eliminating malaria.

Dr. Clara Agutu, MBChB


Clara Agutu is a medical doctor with a Masters in public health. She has a keen interest in infectious diseases particularly HIV, TB, Malaria and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and has worked as a research medical officer at KEMRI. She worked as the lead clinician and study co-ordinator for a multi-centre HIV clinical trial, REALITY (Reduction of Early Mortality in HIV-infected Adults and Children starting Anti-retroviral Therapy), looking to investigate interventions aimed at reducing early mortality during the first three months of starting anti-retroviral therapy, when mortality is the highest in the severely immune-suppressed. She is currently a WHO/TDR clinical research and development fellow at GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, Belgium working on the malaria vaccine, RTS, S, particularly on phase 2 and 3 trials aimed at improving the vaccines efficacy and subsequent implementation in sub-Saharan Africa. Her SANTHE PhD studentship is in the field of acute HIV screening, for early HIV infection detection and reduction of HIV transmission as she continues the global fight towards the elimination of HIV.

Alex Hinga


Alex Hinga holds an MSc in Public Health from UWE Bristol and a BSc in Medical Laboratory Science from Kenyatta University. After his undergraduate studies, he was awarded a national research internship by CNHR Kenya which he successfully completed in 2011. This internship enhanced his research skills and strengthened his resolve to pursue a career in research for health. In 2012, Hinga won an international scholarship to study public health. While working on his MSc thesis at Public Health England, he developed a strong interest in multidisciplinary public health research.

Hinga is currently investigating ethical issues for health and demographic surveillance systems (HDSS) in sub-Saharan Africa. His PhD study has the potential to deepen our understanding and influence policy on data sharing, community engagement and consent in HDSS and other population-based surveillance systems. Overall, Hinga has research interests in critical bioethics, public policy analysis and evaluation of complex social interventions

Alice Kamau


Alice Kamau is a statistician who has worked at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme since 2011. In 2014 she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship to study Msc Medical Statistics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and to undertake an 18 months project on the variation of the effectiveness of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) in Kilifi, which aimed at understanding the epidemiological and ecological characteristics of residual malaria transmission and the biological implications of long-term and widespread use of ITNs.

Her PhD work is aimed at examining potential utility of an array of routinely gathered metrics in predicting variation in malaria transmission. The resultant of this work will not only be used to identify the most promising metrics that can serve as a replacement of more expensive community-based prevalence surveys but also to assess the impact of interventions and react to changes in malaria prevalence by identifying the affected population and adjust malaria control to this group as well as inform policies and decision making.

John Muthii Muriuki


I’m an epidemiologist with experience in mathematical modelling and analysis of large datasets. I previously worked on modelling transmission dynamics of malaria in an irrigated setting and mapping of the drivers of poor nutritional outcomes in different ecological settings in Kenya. These studies sparked my current interest to research on the complex interactions between nutrition and infections. My PhD project entails investigating whether iron status is causally associated with the risks of malaria and bacterial infections in African children. I’m utilising Mendelian randomization to draw the causal inference. My study will also identify novel genetic variants that alter iron status in a genome-wide association study of African children. Currently, the safety of giving iron supplementation remains a long-standing conundrum among clinicians and policy makers. This study will therefore have an impact on public health policy for managing iron deficiency and the associated infections. In future, I hope to extend this concept to understand how nutritional deficiencies relate to other disease processes.

Publications:

  1. A comparison of malaria prevalence, control and management strategies in irrigated and non-irrigated areas in eastern Kenya. Muriuki J.M., Kitala P., Muchemi G., Njeru I., Karanja J., Bett B. | Malaria Journal, 2016 15:402 DOI: 10.1186/s12936-016-1458-4

David Collins


Collins is a molecular virologist interested in the applications of molecular techniques and bioinformatics in investigating infectious diseases. He holds a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Technology from the University of Nairobi (First Class Honours) and a Master’s in Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics from the University of Nottingham. He is currently an IDeAL PhD student under the Virus Epidemiology and Control Group. His PhD seeks to understand the introduction, evolution, and transmission of the 2009/2010 pandemic influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus in Kenya
He has previously worked as a research scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Kenya; a current collaborating institution for his PhD project.

Dr. Ian Oyaro, BVM


Ian Oyaro has worked on sequencing and proteomic based techniques in a quest to improve diagnosis of febrile coma at the Kenyan coast. Additionally, he has also been involved in protocol optimisation studies for disease proteomics. Oyaro is interested in the evaluation of the role of early HIV-specific T and B cell interactions in predetermining downstream antibody function, in a quest to inform vaccine development. While clinical trials have shown favourable efficacies of several HIV/AIDS intervention techniques such as medical male circumcision, it is of great importance to develop a vaccine, as the currently existing methods require either behaviour change or expensive medical interventions. Determination of early immunological correlates that influence the development of broadly neutralising antibodies may suggest coherent approaches for successful vaccine development and identify useful biomarkers for assessing candidate vaccine immunogens. These biomarkers may hold the key to the development of antibody-based HIV vaccines.

Dr. Michuki Maina, MBChB

Supervisors

Prof. Mike English