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.


African-led research solving African and global health issues


To generate a critical mass of African Research Leaders


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

Prof. Sam Kinyanjui

Prof. 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 the current position, he spent 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, Prof. 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 Prof. 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, Prof. 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.

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. Michuki Maina, MBChB


Prof. Mike English

Susan Gachau


Dr. Philip Ayieko

Elizabeth Wahome

Elizabeth Wahome has been working at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme in Kilifi, Kenya, which is supported by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative as a Data Manager. She attained her MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in 2015. Over the years, she has been conducting statistical analysis and data management of an ongoing prospective, open cohort and observational feasibility study to assess recruitment and retention and estimate HIV incidence for an HIV vaccine efficacy trial.

She has also been actively contributing towards scientific manuscript writing and recently through the ITAPS scholarship, managed to write and publish her second paper on hepatitis B virus incidence and risk factors for acquisition in HIV-1 negative MSM who were in follow up in the open cohort since 2005. She’s interested in developing an empiric risk score that can guide PrEP uptake and assess the impact and effectiveness of PrEP on HIV-1 and STI incidence trends among HIV-1 negative MSM in the Coastal Kenya.


1.Hepatitis B Virus Incidence and Risk Factors Among Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 Negative Men Who Have Sex With Men in Kenya.
Wahome E, Ngetsa C, Mwambi J, Gelderblom HC, Manyonyi GO, Micheni M, Hassan A, Price MA, Graham SM, Sanders EJ.
Open Forum Infect Dis. 2016 Dec 7;4(1):ofw253. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofw253. eCollection 2017 Winter.
PMID: 28695141 [PubMed] Free PMC Article
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2.High prevalence of curable sexually transmitted infections among pregnant women in a rural county hospital in Kilifi, Kenya.
Masha SC, Wahome E, Vaneechoutte M, Cools P, Crucitti T, Sanders EJ.
PLoS One. 2017 Mar 31;12(3):e0175166. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175166. eCollection 2017.
PMID: 28362869 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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3.Effect of Text Message, Phone Call, and In-Person Appointment Reminders on Uptake of Repeat HIV Testing among Outpatients Screened for Acute HIV Infection in Kenya: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
Mugo PM, Wahome EW, Gichuru EN, Mwashigadi GM, Thiong’o AN, Prins HA, Rinke de Wit TF, Graham SM, Sanders EJ.
PLoS One. 2016 Apr 14;11(4):e0153612. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153612. eCollection 2016.
PMID: 27077745 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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4.Depression, substance abuse and stigma among men who have sex with men in coastal Kenya.
Secor AM, Wahome E, Micheni M, Rao D, Simoni JM, Sanders EJ, Graham SM.
AIDS. 2015 Dec;29 Suppl 3:S251-9. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000846.
PMID: 26562814 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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5.Risk of sexual, physical and verbal assaults on men who have sex with men and female sex workers in coastal Kenya.
Micheni M, Rogers S, Wahome E, Darwinkel M, van der Elst E, Gichuru E, Graham SM, Sanders EJ, Smith AD.
AIDS. 2015 Dec;29 Suppl 3:S231-6. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000912.
PMID: 26562812 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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6.Targeted screening of at-risk adults for acute HIV-1 infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sanders EJ, Wahome E, Powers KA, Werner L, Fegan G, Lavreys L, Mapanje C, McClelland RS, Garrett N, Miller WC, Graham SM.
AIDS. 2015 Dec;29 Suppl 3:S221-30. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000924.
PMID: 26562811 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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7.Changes in sexual risk behavior among MSM participating in a research cohort in coastal Kenya.
Möller LM, Stolte IG, Geskus RB, Okuku HS, Wahome E, Price MA, Prins M, Graham SM, Sanders EJ.
AIDS. 2015 Dec;29 Suppl 3:S211-S219. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000890.
PMID: 26562810 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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8.Prevalence, Incidence, and Clearance of Anogenital Warts in Kenyan Men Reporting High-Risk Sexual Behavior, Including Men Who Have Sex With Men.
Neme S, Wahome E, Mwashigadi G, Thiong’o AN, Stekler JD, Wald A, Sanders EJ, Graham SM.
Open Forum Infect Dis. 2015 May 12;2(2):ofv070. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofv070. eCollection 2015 Apr.
PMID: 26110169 [PubMed] Free PMC Article
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9.Engaging young adult clients of community pharmacies for HIV screening in Coastal Kenya: a cross-sectional study.
Mugo PM, Prins HA, Wahome EW, Mwashigadi GM, Thiong’o AN, Gichuru E, Omar A, Graham SM, Sanders EJ.
Sex Transm Infect. 2015 Jun;91(4):257-9. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2014-051751. Epub 2014 Dec 8.
PMID: 25487430 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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10.Diagnosing acute and prevalent HIV-1 infection in young African adults seeking care for fever: a systematic review and audit of current practice.
Prins HA, Mugo P, Wahome E, Mwashigadi G, Thiong’o A, Smith A, Sanders EJ, Graham SM.
Int Health. 2014 Jun;6(2):82-92. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihu024. Epub 2014 May 19. Review.
PMID: 24842982 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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11.Acute HIV-1 infection is as common as malaria in young febrile adults seeking care in coastal Kenya.
Sanders EJ, Mugo P, Prins HA, Wahome E, Thiong’o AN, Mwashigadi G, van der Elst EM, Omar A, Smith AD, Graham SM.
AIDS. 2014 Jun 1;28(9):1357-63. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000245.
PMID: 24556872 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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12.Men who have sex with men sensitivity training reduces homoprejudice and increases knowledge among Kenyan healthcare providers in coastal Kenya.
van der Elst EM, Smith AD, Gichuru E, Wahome E, Musyoki H, Muraguri N, Fegan G, Duby Z, Bekker LG, Bender B, Graham SM, Operario D, Sanders EJ.
J Int AIDS Soc. 2013 Dec 2;16 Suppl 3:18748. doi: 10.7448/IAS.16.4.18748.
PMID: 24321111 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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13.Evaluation of WHO screening algorithm for the presumptive treatment of asymptomatic rectal gonorrhoea and chlamydia infections in at-risk MSM in Kenya.
Sanders EJ, Wahome E, Okuku HS, Thiong’o AN, Smith AD, Duncan S, Mwambi J, Shafi J, McClelland RS, Graham SM.
Sex Transm Infect. 2014 Mar;90(2):94-9. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2013-051078. Epub 2013 Dec 10.
PMID: 24327758 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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14.Evaluation of an empiric risk screening score to identify acute and early HIV-1 infection among MSM in Coastal Kenya.
Wahome E, Fegan G, Okuku HS, Mugo P, Price MA, Mwashigadi G, Thiong’o A, Graham SM, Sanders EJ.
AIDS. 2013 Aug 24;27(13):2163-6. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283629095.
PMID: 23842136 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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15.High HIV-1 incidence, correlates of HIV-1 acquisition, and high viral loads following seroconversion among MSM.
Sanders EJ, Okuku HS, Smith AD, Mwangome M, Wahome E, Fegan G, Peshu N, van der Elst EM, Price MA, McClelland RS, Graham SM.
AIDS. 2013 Jan 28;27(3):437-46. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32835b0f81.
PMID: 23079811 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
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16.Most adults seek urgent healthcare when acquiring HIV-1 and are frequently treated for malaria in coastal Kenya.
Sanders EJ, Wahome E, Mwangome M, Thiong’o AN, Okuku HS, Price MA, Wamuyu L, Macharia M, McClelland RS, Graham SM.
AIDS. 2011 Jun 1;25(9):1219-24. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283474ed5.
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Diana Nyabundi

Dr. Aishatu Adamu, MBChB

Jacqueline Mutai

Rowland Osii

George Makau

George Makau is based at Lund University, Sweden. He obtained his MSc degree in Molecular Biology from an Inter-University Programme in Molecular Biology (IPMB) jointly organised by Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Antwerp University in Belgium. He completed his MSc degree thesis in Molecular Oncology at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK-CEN), investigating the molecular and cellular effects of different radiation qualities on cancer cells. Makau has gained experience in infectious diseases research through active placements in various institutes including the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) in Belgium and the US Army Medical Research Unit.

Growing up partly in Kenya and having witnessed the devastation ensuing from the HIV-1 epidemic in the country, his current desire is to contribute to HIV-1 research for human health in Africa and help combat the spread of HIV-1 through advocating for science-informed policy making. His current study utilises high-throughput sequence data to providing insights into circulating HIV-1 variants, transmitted drug resistance and characteristics of founder viruses in well-established at-risk groups cohorts in Kenya.

Jonathan Abuga

Jonathan did his Research Internship at the Neurosciences group of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP), in Kilifi-Kenya. He has undergraduate (Kenyatta University, Kenya) and postgraduate (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) training in Public Health. He is currently doing a Ph.D. on examining changes in the burden of neurological disabilities in children over a period of improved child survival as well as determining long-term mortality following neurological disabilities, using both statistical and epidemiological approaches to answer these questions. He is supervised by researchers from KWTRP and the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, where he is registered for his Ph.D. His research work is supported by the Sub-Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics Training (SSACAB) and the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL).

Kennedy Mwai


Prof. Faith Osier

I am a Bio-statistician and a PhD student working on epidemiological and high-throughput proteomic data.  My Bachelor’s  Degree from JKUAT was in Mathematics and Computer Science with a specialization in Statistics. I hold an MSc in Biostats from University of the Witwatersrand with a focus on Bayesian Spatial-Temporal models. I build computational tools that make data analysis easier, faster, and more fun.

Currently, I am working on analytical frameworks for studies of correlates of protection against Plasmodium falciparum with a main interest in systems biology approach focusing on malaria epidemiology and the correlates of protection. Additionally, with others, we teach Introduction to Statistical Methods for Health Research using R and RStudio httpss://

If you want to keep up with everything we are working on, follow me on Twitter @kenniajin.

Doris Nyamwaya

Anne Amulele

Karamoko Niare


Prof. Faith Osier

Rodney Ogwang


Prof. Faith Osier

Dr. Derick Kimathi, MBChB

Derick Kimathi is a medical doctor, trained at the University of Nairobi. Derick joined KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in 2017. He works within the arbovirus group, where he leads the human clinical trials. His interests are in tropical diseases prevention with a focus on emerging and re-emerging diseases; how to utilize vaccines for disease outbreak prevention and disease epidemic control.

Derick was awarded the TNF -Scholarship at the University of Oxford. His PhD is examining the immunogenicity of fractional doses for the Yellow Fever Vaccines in an attempt to redefine the minimum dose recommendation for the vaccine. His work also focuses on understanding the health policy processes at a macro level and how that influences vaccine use routinely and during epidemics.

Derick is the lead for the EDCTP funded multi-site study (NIFTY) with partners in KWTRP- Kenya, Epicentre- Uganda and France, UVRI-Uganda, Institut Pasteur de Dakar- Senegal and the University of Oxford.

Caroline Mburu

Caro’s interest lies in Infectious disease epidemiology and the application of mathematical models for infectious disease control. She previously worked on modelling, transmission dynamics of typhoid and assessing the cost-effectiveness of Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine in Kenya. Her PhD works entail applying mathematical modelling to serologic data to assess the impact of vaccination programs and provide evidence that will inform vaccine policy in Kenya. Her ultimate career goal is to inform disease management using mathematical modelling tools in low middle-income countries (LMICs).









Zaneta Kidiavai

Zaneta is an IDeAL Masters fellow at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and currently pursuing an MSc. in Bioinformatics at the Centre of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (CEBIB), University of Nairobi.

She is working on a bioinformatics project that seeks to determine whether exposure to HIV alters the immune response of uninfected infants born to HIV positive mothers. She is using a transcriptome profiling approach to compare the gene expression profiles of these infants against the expression profiles of infants born to HIV negative mothers. The data she is working on is from RNA sequencing and some of the tools/software she is using are based in the R  programming environment; the Bioconductor project and the unix platform. She is working under the supervision of Dr.Eunice Nduati, Dr.Etienne deVilliers and Dr.Martin Rono.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry (majoring in Molecular Biology and genetic engineering) from the university of Nairobi with a keen interest in molecular biology and Computational biology & Bioinformatics.