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

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 joined the Programme in October 2015 as a Software Developer and 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 individual and corporate clients.

He is a seasoned software engineer with over 7 years of proven and tested knowledge and experience in the areas of systems design, development, and integrations.

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

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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Solomon Njenga


Dr. Sam Kinyanjui

I hold a BSC. Degree in Mathematics And Economics, with IT, from Maseno University. Currently, I am part of the Ideal Program as a Post Graduate Diploma fellow in Health Research Methods and undertaking a research project.Prior to becoming a PGD student, I interned at Kenya Forestry Research Institute-Central Highlands Eco-region Research Programme (KEFRI-CHERP) -Headquarters in the Biometrics and GIS department. I also did my attachment at Kenya Plant Health Quarantine Inspectorate Service (Muguga).I intend to apply my statistical knowledge to help make informed decisions backed by data and also to solve some problems in the health sector. In the long run also intend to help and play a part in the eradication of malaria among other diseases.

Moses Mwamburi


Dr. Marta Maia

Moses Mwamburi is a PGD student holding a Bachelor’s degree in Analytical Chemistry from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. He currently holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Research Methods studentship award from KEMRI Wellcome Trust IDeAL program. He will be studying the use of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to measure the age of malaria vectors under the supervision of Dr. Marta Maia.

His key interest is on the application of analytical chemistry techniques in vector biology studies as an evidence-based approach towards the prevention of morbidity and mortality in Africa. He is also interested in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He is keen on furthering his studies to postdoctorate levels and eventually into a high impact research career.

Mary Wanja Njoroge

I pursued a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health (Public Health), Moi University. I have been an intern at the National AIDS Control Council where I gained skills in HIV literature search, data analysis and reporting. Previously, an attachee at the Bungoma County Referral Hospital where I gained practical skills in immunization activities and disease surveillance.  Currently, I am part of the IDeAL programme as a Post Graduate Diploma Fellow in Health Research Methods undertaking a project in ’’Ecological investigation of the association between confidence in science/vaccine confidence and actual vaccine coverage data whilst accounting for GDP and other relevant covariates’’. I aspire to be a global health researcher with cutting edge skills as I seek to find out what extent vaccination coverage is correlated to how populations feel about science and health (including vaccines and vaccination). My interests are Public health research, disease prevention and vaccine studies.

Githuka Alfred Mburu


Dr. Charles Sande

I am a young aspiring health researcher having a background at Medical Laboratory science from Kisii University. I was first attached at Thika Level 5 Hospital in my undergraduate and later duly licensed as a Laboratory Officer. I have previously worked as a Medical laboratory assistant at East & Central Africa Health link in Nairobi from January to August 2019. Am currently a Post Graduate Diploma student at Pwani University with a key research interest in improving diagnostic systems as I aspire to contribute in providing solutions to healthcare-related challenges. Am currently working on “Diagnosis of acute infections through microarray-based analysis of antibodies in lymphocyte supernatants” under the supervision of Dr. Charles Sande.

Ken Muriithi

Ken Murithi has an academic background in Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) from Pwani University. He is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma in Research Methodology offered by KEMRI in conjunction with Pwani University. His present focus is to obtain a high-quality DNA from Tunga penetrans, sequence it and carry out the sequence analysis.

Lucy Wairimu Mwangi

My name is Lucy Wairimu Mwangi a graduate from the University of Kabianga with a BSc in Environmental Health. I am a licensed public health practitioner where my roles are oriented in prevention, promotion, and protection of health. Tasked as a Community Health Assistant in Busia County, I coordinated primary health care activities, therefore, contributing tremendously towards achieving Universal Health Care.My career aspiration is to be a research scientist with a clear drive to finding solutions to the changing trends in the world. It fascinates me how information and passing knowledge can transform lives. I aspire to infuse health care concerns to the upcoming generation through the papers I will publish soon. Additionally, I would want to advance my studies to the post-doctoral level. I am a post-graduate diploma student under Prof. Charles Newton and Mr. Jonathan Abuga. My research project is Access and Utilization of Health Care Services among children with NI in Low and Middle-Income Countries.

Gideon Mbithi

I am pursuing a PGD in Health Research Systems at IDEAL KEMRI- WELLCOME trust. I have a bachelor’s degree in Geospatial Information Science from Maseno University. I did my industrial attachment at Directorate of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS) where acquired skills on spatial analysis, data presentation and cartography. My current research project entails assessing secular trends in the incidence and outcome of head injury admitted to Kilifi County Hospital (2002-2018) under the guidance of Prof. Charles Newton and Dr. Symon Kariuki. My research interests are disease mapping, spatial modelling and using GIS to better understand public health in relation to medical geography. I am aspiring to major my studies on remote sensing technologies.

Pauline King’ori

I graduated with BSc. Biomedical Science and Technology from Egerton University. I was attached at the Central Veterinary Laboratories-Kabete during my undergraduate studies where I learned different procedures related animal health research. My experience at this institution triggered my interest to pursue a career in biomedical research. My current PGD project involves conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies focusing on vitamin D and respiratory infections. I am passionate about biomedical research and aim at improving public health by promoting good nutrition to address nutritional deficiencies. My project supervisors are Dr. Sarah Atkinson and Reagan Mogire.

Millicent Makandi


Dr. Benjamin Tsofa

Millicent Makandi, pursued a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Public health at Pwani University. I have been an intern at Embu Teaching and Referral Hospital where I saw the importance of evidence based practices for health care providers to offer better health care. Previously , I worked for IPSOS-synovate  in collaboration with World Bank as a research assistant where I developed interest in research and felt the need to pursue this line. Am currently doing PGD- in health research methods undertaking a project in Examining health system requirements for the inclusion of chlamydia and trichomoniasis screening in the routine antenatal care package in Kenya. I aspire to be a global health research leader and promote evidence based reproductive-health. I hope to gain new insights, come up with innovative solutions to health problems and contribute in strengthening capacities to materialize universal health coverage. My interest is in  strengthening health systems to offer quality care. My  supervisors are Dr. Simon Masha and Dr. Benjamin Tsofa.

Anita Kerubo

I am a graduate from Maseno University with a degree in Applied Statistics with IT and an alumnus of Mama Ngina High School. She is currently a PGD Fellow with IDEAL. Her current research work focuses on the reliability of using recall of onset of seizures to calculate incidence of epilepsy. She aims to make a positive contribution in the Neurological Department of Science. This studentship is the beginning of her career journey in Research and Science and aspires to be part of the solution wherever she goes by having an open mind and uniting with other people who have similar goals.

Margaret Chifwete

I hold a bachelor’s degree in BSc. Biotechnology. I am a postgraduate diploma student currently working under the supervision of Isabella Oyier and Mercy Akinyi on a project on determining the prevalence of non-falciparum malaria in Kilifi and Western Kenya. My aim is to detect P.malariae and P.ovale using sensitive molecular methods which in our case we will be using qPCR.

My interests is mainly in immunology and in the malaria vaccine development since my project will further lead to show the contribution of the non-falciparum malaria to the overall malaria disease burden the information obtained will be very useful in this case.

I aspire to grow in immunological research and pursue postgraduate training for further advancement in my career.

Peninah Wanjiku Wachira

I pursued Bachelor of science in Environmental Health (Public Health) at Moi university. I have been a volunteer at Kilifi County Referral Hospital in the Public Health department where I gained various skills in; primary health care promotion initiatives, disease surveillance and response, immunization, public health and sanitation, licensing and regulation of entities that sell food to the public among others. I have also worked in an NGO, WOFAK (Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya) Kilifi branch. In WOFAK I was tasked with supervising community health volunteers and monitoring their activities in follow up of HIV patients for treatment adherence.  Currently, I am in for the postgraduate diploma course doing a project on “Effects of Anti- Epileptic Drugs On the Outcomes of Pregnancy”. I aspire to gain new skills in conducting systematic reviews, epidemiological analysis and writing manuscripts alongside identifying an area in research which I can venture in. I also look up to networking with other researchers and learning from them.  My interest is in considerably neglected topics of public health concern and vulnerable groups, in this case epilepsy: its treatment and effects particularly on the outcomes of pregnancy. My primary project supervisor is Prof. Charles Newton and Dr. Symon Kariuki as the co-supervisor.

Lilian Walala


Dr. James Tuju

I graduated from The University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Biotechnology.  She is an alumnus of Moi Girl’s School Nairobi. During her time in campus, she got an opportunity to be attached at the Center for Microbiology Research in KEMRI where she was first exposed to research. She did her internship at the National Public Health Laboratories in Nairobi. She hopes to use her expertise in microbiology to improve human health across the globe. Her main interest lies in the area of immunology and molecular biology. Her aim is to be a part of the next frontier of scientists who will come up with an effective vaccine for malaria. Currently she is pursuing a post-graduate diploma at Pwani University and doing a project about a malaria vaccine under the supervision of Dr. Karamoko Niare and Dr. James Tuju at the Kemri-Wellcome Trust Kilifi.

Edwin Dzoro Mwazuma


Dr. Benjamin Tsofa

I did a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics at the University of Nairobi. I did my internship at the County Government of Kilifi for ten months at the Department of budget and economic planning. I am currently doing my post-graduate diploma on Health Systems Research at Kemri-Wellcome Trust, Kilifi My project is on Examining the operations and functioning of county health stakeholders’ forum in the context of devolution in Kenya. My research interest centres around health systems and health policy. I aspire to advance my career path in human health research, specializing in health services research, to identify the most effective ways to organize, manage, finance and deliver high-quality healthcare.