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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Sylvia Omoke

Sylvia graduate in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Nairobi. She worked as a volunteer student nurse at KEMRI-CDC Nairobi during her university holidays and 4 months after finishing campus.

She is looking at the prevalence, causes and management of dehydration among under-five children in Kenya that is not caused by diarrhea. Minimal studies have been done on dehydration not caused by diarrhea and there are no clear guidelines on its management. Findings from this studies will therefore give a picture of the burden of non-diarrheal dehydration and the outcomes associated with it, this should trigger more studies in this area to generate more information which will lead to improved care and hence reduce under-five mortalities.

Sylvia is a passionate young researcher who aims at improving health care by coming up with evidence-based solutions to health care problems through research.

Steven Wambua


Dr. Sara Atkinson

Steven graduated in 2015 with a Bachelors in Economics and Statistics from Chuka University. He later went on to join Compassion International as a research assistant in a baseline survey on Child Development. There he formulated questionnaires, carried out the survey, analysed the data and created reports. He has also worked for Heritage Cargo Movers Ltd as a Business Analyst Trainee.

Currently he is an intern at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, looking at the effect of previous malaria episodes on risk of Iron Deficiency in children below the age of 5 years in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is also undertaking a postgraduate diploma in Health Research Methods.

Steven has skills in data management using R-Programme, Gretl, SPSS and Matlab.

Stephen Mwaniki

Stephen holds a first-class degree in Environmental Science from Pwani University.  Currently, he is a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) fellow under the Schools engagement Programme at KWTRP. His project—under supervision of Alun Davies—seeks to guide primary school’s interaction with scientists with an aim to increase students interest in learning science in Kilifi.

Prior to joining the IDeAL programme, Stephen worked as a monitoring and evaluation Intern at National Environment Management Authority where he contributed in monitoring and evaluation of Climate Finance projects in Kenya. He has also interned with Muranga County Government where he was involved in community mobilization and spatial planning. His aspiration is to improve science understanding in Kenya and the region.

Roselyne Nguti

Roselyne has an academic background in Bachelor of Science (Nursing) from the University of Nairobi. She is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma in Research Methodology offered by KEMRI in conjunction with Pwani university and intends to major in Biostatistics.

Her present focus is to aggregate published research findings done in Kenya to determine the extent to which Respiratory Syncytial Virus has affected people in the region. The findings would help facilitate choice of a vaccine strategy as well as determining the impact of the vaccine once it is available.

Robert Mugo


Dr. Charles Agoti

Robert holds a Bachelors in Medical Laboratory Science and a Certificate in Leadership & Management both from Kenyatta University . He is currently dealing with sequence and phylogenetic analysis of rotavirus strains pre- and post-vaccine in Kilifi, to find out whether there is  potential for development of vaccine escape mutants.

Robert has previously worked at the Aghakhan Hospital’s Molecular Biology Section in Nairobi.

His passion lies in infectious diseases evolutionary dynamics, epidemiology and biostatistics.

Phoebe Matara

I am a Geomatic Engineering graduate from Jomo Kenyatta University. I had my first exposure to research through an attachment at an agricultural research institute. Since then I have had a never-ending quest to gaining spatial statistics tools and applying them as decision-making tools in research. I joined KEMRI through the IDeAL PGD internship program and I am currently working on analyzing the spatial and temporal patterns of RSV virus. My research interests include but are not limited to spatial statistics and modelling for public health, phylogeographic analysis of genomic data, epidemiology and modelling of disease transmission dynamics within space and across time.

Other pass time interests include swimming, interior décor and fashion.

Peter Muthama

Peter is a trained veterinarian with a great interest in One health.

Currently he is doing his Postgraduate Diploma project focusing on the transmission and case burden of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in coastal Kenya, under the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDEAL).

Peter is highly motivated in seeing his research work translate into improved health care.

Peter Nduta


Dr Daniel Kiboi

Peter attained a in BSc Biotechnology (First Class Honors) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

He was previously attached to Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services Karen, Nairobi.

Peter is currently working on a malaria project validating vital mutations in asymptomatic malaria infections associated with key plasmodium falciparum genes. Various laboratory skills- Malaria parasite culture, DNA extraction, PCR, Primer design and bioinformatic analysis

Mathias Zosi

Zosi graduated from Moi University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSc.N) in 2014. He worked in Coast General Hospital as a Nursing officer Intern for one year; May 2015 to May 2016. Thereafter worked with KEMRI-wellcome trust in Kilifi as a clinical nurse at the pediatric High Dependent Unit (HDU) from 27th July 2016 to 27th October 2016. He is currently doing a Post-graduate diploma in Health Research Methods offered by KEMRI-Wellcome trust in collaboration with Pwani University. As a post-graduate intern at KEMRI-Wellcome trust Nairobi, he is working on a project titled; Developing metrics for nursing quality of care for LMICS, which in lay man’s language means; Developing approaches/methods/tools for measuring quality of nursing care in Low and middle income countries. He believes that this will inform the public on how much and of what quality nurses contribute to the care of the patients in the low and middle income countries. He also believes that his project will better inform workforce policy and management decisions to support delivery of quality nursing care in LMICs

Khadija Said

Before joining the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust and IDeAL Funded Postgraduate Diploma studentship, Khadija had been in working in the medical industry as a Marketing Executive. She is an alumnus of the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology and Biotechnology.

Currently, she is working on integrating the use of various software tools to understand RSV on a genetic level. This will feed into approaches and ideas for understanding transmission patterns and facilitate vaccine development.

She aspires to major in advanced epidemiology methods and leave a legacy through her substantial contribution to the research community.

Her pastime activities involve sociable kickbacks, baking and DIY projects.

Kevin Oluoch

Kevin is a graduate of the University of Nairobi, with first class honors in BSc. (Geospatial Engineering). He has skills in spatial analysis, Geographic Information Systems. He has a passion for computer programming and development of computer algorithms. He is currently doing research on workflow programs, trying to determine the most suitable workflows program(s) for bioinformatics.

The field of bioinformatics has grown rapidly in the last few year and now generates a lot of data. There are computer programs developed to do various steps in the manipulation of these data. These are combined in a workflow to make one complete process that is portable and gives reproducible results. There are several software’s being used to build and manage these workflows. The aim of this research is to determine to most suitable workflow program in the context of bioinformatics.

Dr. Janet Siele, BVM

Janet graduated with a Degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi.

She has some experience in disease surveillance, having worked with FELTP Kenya, researching on zoonotic diseases, specifically hydatid disease. She is currently pursuing a post graduate diploma in health research methods, working on a project whose aim is to find out the potential effectiveness of a vaccine given to a pregnant mother to prevent a disease that affects the respiratory system (respiratory syncytial virus disease) in infants.

Looking forward to acquiring research skills that would be of benefit in future projects. Mainly interested in improving one health by researching on zoonotic agent epidemiology and increasing awareness of the same.

Jane Wangui

Jane graduated with a Nursing Degree from the University Nairobi. She volunteered for a free medical camp organized by Chamberlain College of Nursing (United States of America) in association with the University of Nairobi in Baba Ndogo in April 2014.She volunteered in Mwingi medical camp in 2015. She has been trained on leadership and career stewardship. She has also served as the praise and worship leader in the Medical School Christian Union from 2015 to 2016.

As a post graduate diploma student, she is currently doing a project, that involves adapting and validating the Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire. This is a tool that will be used to measure how adolescents in Kilifi cope when faced with adverse life experiences. The information will be used to assess their risk in developing mental disorders such as depression. She is interested in working with young people as she believes its attractive and that it allows one to take vicarious satisfaction in their achievements

Gulatoon Teresa

Gulatoon joined KWTRP in January, 2017 as an intern and a student studying Health Research Methods in Pwani University.  She is working in a research project that aims at exploring experiences and perspectives of researchers and ethics committees on multiple review process of health research protocols in Kilifi county. This exposure has explored her interest in bio-ethics health system research. She is also planning to do a master’s degree at Warwick University on Health Research methods to acquire more skills and knowledge on health research methodologies and bio-statistics to achieve her goal of being a competent health researcher. Gulatoon is an alumni student at Kenyatta University, having graduated with BSc.  in Coastal and Marine Resource Management.

Eva Mwangome

Eva graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Community Resource Management fr0m Kenyatta University. She has worked in different organizations during her studies and developed interests in monitoring and evaluation of development programs, and community programs aimed at mentoring youth in secondary schools. Along her journey, she also advanced her computer skills, took French classes and played tennis.

Her drive to further her studies led her into taking a Postgraduate Diploma in health Research Methods at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Program, where she hopes to make progress career wise. Her current interests are in exploring blood transfusion services in the coastal region of Kenya and highlighting key issues that affect service delivery.

Esther Chongwo

Esther Chongwo is a holder of Bachelor of Science (Nursing and Public Health) from Kenyatta University.

Her project is on assessing mental abilities, psychological and the social aspects among adults living with epilepsy in Kilifi, Kenya. The project aims at expanding the body of knowledge for policy development on the management of people living with epilepsy thus improve the quality of life and health outcomes in people living with epilepsy. She has keen interests in psychiatry and intends to secure a master’s programme in the field of mental health.

Dennis Waithaka

Dennis is currently doing a Postgraduate Diploma in Research Methodology at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust. His project is focused on how healthcare priorities are set at the county level.  In Kenya, since devolution took place in 2013, the counties have served as the backbone of health service delivery. However, very little is known on how they set healthcare priorities. This study aims to understand how county health departments set priorities and evaluate the process with an aim to improve it.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing from the University of Nairobi, certified in emergency obstetrics and neonatal care, He is also a Certified basic life support provider. Before KEMRI, he was attached as a Midwife in Kenyatta National Hospital.


Chadwick Henry

Chadwick is a holder of a Second Class Upper Honours degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Nairobi and currently a CPA(IV). He joined Alliance High School in 2007 and sat his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination in 2010 emerging 69th in Central Province. He is a founder member and long term-serving director of Life Transformers – UON, a Nairobi youth community-based organisation that does provide life skills training, mentorship, leadership and entrepreneurship incubators for youth and children from Nairobi slums and other underprivileged areas around Nairobi. He was also a founding member of Mukuru Life Transformers Secondary School, a tuition-free school in Nairobi’s second-largest slum. He participated in the 2014 Nairobi International Trade Fair under the University of Nairobi students’ stand and his team emerged 2nd in the category of National Cohesion and Integration. He is a member of Student Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy, a youth organisation that advances human rights education and youth advocacy. In 2016, he was part of the 5-member team that emerged champions in the 2016 Intervarsities Economics Debate held in Laikipia University. Prior to becoming an IDeAL PGD fellow, he has interned as a Finance assistant at University of Nairobi’s Enterprise Services (UNES) and as a Market Analyst with Tullow Oil Kenya B.V. He was amongst the 25 fellows who were selected as the 2nd PGD cohort for IDeAL, 2017. His project is on determining malaria threshold case definitions across different transmission settings in Africa under the supervision of Prof. Faith Osier and Dr. James Tuju. He hopes to secure an opportunity to further his education to a Masters in Economic Health Policy Formulation and attain a CPA(K) certification.

Dr. Ali Kipkoech, BVM


Dr. Dorcas Kamuya

I’m a Postgraduate Diploma student with a background in Veterinary Medicine. I’m currently doing a project exploring the ethical issues in the collection, storage and use of human biological samples (biobanking) in developing countries.

I have found research to be fascinating and look forward to advancing my career in research after the PGD, so that apart from my own professional development, I’ll be able to contribute to the society at large.

Basil Okola


Dr. Emelda Okiro

I have a background in Applied Statistics with an interest to specialize in medical statistics/biostatistics. I am currently pursuing my post-graduate diploma in health research methods at Pwani University, sponsored by IDEAL (Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders) under Kemri-Wellcome Trust and other collaborating sponsors. My project is entitled: A review of the structure and function of vital registration system in Kenya: towards improvement in mortality data quality for health policy analysis. I will be assessing the status of Kenya’s Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system in terms of coverage and completeness of birth and death records. I believe my work will cover the literature gap on Kenya’s CRVS in terms of describing the system as at the moment by reviewing activities, policies and improvements that have been initiated to develop the CRVS system and assessing levels of completeness of coverage by age group and county.