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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Rebecca Njuguna


Dr. Julie Jemutai

Sabina Odero

Sydney Mwasambu

Timothy Chege


Prof. Mike English

William Muasya


Dr. Melissa Kapulu

Mercy Mwadhi


Dr. Kui Muraya

Mercy holds a second class upper degree in BA ANTHROPOLOGY from the University of Nairobi and a CPA 1 from KASNEB. She is a teens mentor -especially young girls between the age of 12-18- mentoring them on life skills.  Her aspirations are to work as a gender and health, gender relations, social science researcher. She hopes to find ways to eradicate household violence and to get more women to positions of self-independence and to attain a CPA(K).

Muthangya Musyoka

Muthangya holds Bsc. Degree in Food, nutrition and dietetics from University of Nairobi. He is a postgraduate diploma student at KTWRP supervised by Dr. Jacinta Nzinga. Before joining the Ideal programme he worked for Amref Health Africa as a research assistant foe end term evaluation of a five year health program.

His major research interests centers around health systems and health policy.

Dorothy Chepkirui

Dorothy Chepkirui is an IDEAL PGD student holding Bachelor’s degree in Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics from Kenyatta University. She currently holds a studentship award with KEMRI Wellcome Trust IDEAL program taking a Postgraduate diploma in Health Research Methods under the supervision of Dr. Martha Mwagome.  Previously Dorothy has been working as a nutritionist with International Rescue Committee implementing integrated emergency nutrition response and rapid WASH program which involved mass screening for malnutrition and treatment, prevention of WASH related communicable diseases through hygiene promotion and promotion of immunization coverage.

Her key interest are on the management of acute malnutrition, its effectiveness and the economic implication. She hopes to use the exposure from IDEAL to come up with new ideas surrounding treatment of malnutrition in low and middle income countries.

Judy Baariu

Baariu holds a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Moi University, Kenya where she graduated top of her class earning her an opportunity to study interdisplinary perspectives on chronic pain at the Linköping University, Sweden. Through the course she gained interest in aspects of disability and rehabilitation. Currently, she is part of the IDeAL programme as a Post Graduate Diploma fellow in Health research methods undertaking a research project on behavioral and emotional problems in children with neurological impairments in low and middle income countries.

Prior to becoming a PGD fellow, Judy interned at the Meru teaching and referral hospital where she gained clinical and administrative skills and also worked as an immunization coach with the Kenya Red Cross. She has also been involved in various community outreach programmmes and primary health care initiatives. Through her work she intends to bring to the fore the plight of children with neurological impairments as well as spearhead efforts to finding workable interventions that will not only improve their quality of life and that of their parents and guardians but also ease their integration into the community.

Evans Mudibo

Kevin Juma


Dr. Sara Atkinson

Kevin Juma holds a degree in BSc Nutrition and Dietetics from The Technical University of Kenya. He is currently an IDeaL Post graduate diploma fellow undertaking a course on Health Research Methods.

Prior to joining PGD, Kevin was a research assistant at KEMRI Centre for Traditional Medicine and Drug Research doing a study on the use of complementary and alternative medicine by prostate cancer patients in selected hospitals. He has also volunteered at the Masomo Mashinani Foundation (Education At Grassroots), a community initiative which helps young primary school pupils incorporate their talents and interests in school work while maximizing their learning and creativity skills.

He is interested in diagnosis and management of malnutrition.  His current research work is on iron dysregulation and protein energy malnutrition, investigating the effects of malnutrition on iron homeostasis and susceptibility to bacterial infections. Malnutrition is still a public health burden in many developing countries and this study will have an impact on public health policy for the management of malnutrition.

Hilda Wacuka

Hilda is graduate with a degree in BSc. Biochemistry from Kenyatta University, and an alumnus of Loreto High School, Limuru. She is currently a PgD Fellow with IDeAL

Her current research work focuses on the humoral response to Malaria parasite in children, with particular focus on the blood stage of infection. In the long run, she aims at making her positive contribution to Malaria eradication, among other infectious diseases affecting children.

This fellowship is an ideal start of a career in Science and Research. In that regard, she hopes to use this foothold to advance her studies in the areas of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

Isaac Egesa

Mutanu Malinda


Dr. Isabella Oyier

Mutanu graduated with a BSc. Biochemistry (Hons) from the University of Bristol and has since completed an internship with Amref Health Africa.

She is studying genetic diversity at acute and convalescent stages of malaria infection by genotyping polymorphic Plasmodium falciparum surface antigen merozoite surface protein 2 under the supervision of Dr. Lynette Isabella Oyier.

After completing the postgraduate diploma program, she hopes to continue studying the molecular basis of disease.

Rehema Gona

Lynn Fwambah

Joshua Munywoki

Joshua has an undergraduate degree in Medical Laboratory Science and Technology (University of Nairobi). Additionally, he has trained on Research in Human Biology (University of Toronto), Scientist Knowledge Translation Training (SickKids Learning Institute®), Leadership and Management in Health (University of Washington) and Economic Evaluation in Health (University of Washington)

Prior to his studentship, he was based at a sub-county referral hospital for one year, where he gained experience and exposure to Kenyan Government Health System.

As a Queen Elizabeth Scholar in 2016, he got introduced to Global Health research as a research student at the SickKids Research Institute®. Under the mentorship of Dr. Helen Dimaras, he developed a career interest in health policy and systems research.

He hopes to grow a career in Health Policy and Systems Research, through which health systems in developing countries strengthen their capacities to materialize Universal Health Coverage. He is currently trying to understand priority-setting practices for human resources for health in the context decentralized health systems.


Munywoki, J. M., & Dimaras, H. (2017). Enhancing Cancer Control in Kenya Through Knowledge Translation: A Perspective Review. The Journal of Global Health.

Abraham Muchemi

Adam Mabrouk

Mabrouk is a graduate of Kenyatta university school of Public Health with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health. Currently he is a postgraduate diploma student at KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme under the supervision of Dr Ifedayo Adetifa/ Prof. Amina Abubakar. Prior to becoming Postgraduate Diploma Fellow at KWTRP, he worked for Maryland Global Initiative Cooperation (MGIC) Partnership for Advanced Care and Treatment (PACT) TIMIZA project in Kisii, Kenya as an IQ care data officer. A project that implements comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment programs to facilitate the Kenya Ministries of Medical Services and Public Health to control the spread of HIV and rapidly scale up HIV services.

He is interested in Applied Epidemiologic Methods which is intended to emphasize the importance of descriptive and analytic epidemiologic information to promote and protect the public’s health and describe the application or practice of epidemiology to address public health issues.

Collins Kipkoech