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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vision

African-led research solving African and global health issues

Mission

To generate a critical mass of African Research Leaders

Objective

Attract – To attract young African to research

Train – To provide high quality research training

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

Nurture – To nurture emerging African research leaders

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Dr. David Gathara

Current Students

Past Students

Vivian Nyakangi -

Mathias Zosi -


David is a post-doctoral researcher with the Health Systems Research Department (HSRD) at KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) Nairobi. He holds a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a PhD from the University of Amsterdam.
Since joining KWTRP in August 2008, his research work has spanned a range of disciplines including, clinical trials, evaluation of quality of care within hospitals and exploration of the application of various statistical methods (propensity score analysis, multi-level models and statistical process control) to routine data.
David helped lead the development, database design and coordination of country wide quality of care surveys of 22 hospitals in 2012. He played a key role in setting up the Clinical Information Network before taking up the position of post-doctoral researcher and co-PI on work as part of the Health Services that Deliver for Newborns Project. In this project he is developing work on how to evaluate the quality of nursing care as well as evaluating service delivery and access.
He has broad interests’ health informatics and its integration with epidemiology to monitor disease trends, interventions effects, identify quality of care gaps and the use of this data for effective decision making. In addition, he has interests in human resources for health more specifically the nursing workforce and how this influences the quality of care provided.

Prof. Dejan Zurovac

Current Students

Beatrice Amboko -

Past Students


Affiliation(s):

KEMRI – Wellcome – Trust, Kenya

Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

Dejan is an epidemiologist and lead scientist of Malaria Case Management and Drug Evaluation Group within the Department of Public Health Research of the KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. Since 1997 he has worked in several African countries as a medical doctor, health programme manager and public health researcher within the field of malaria control and the quality of health service delivery. He is translational scientist working in close collaboration with Ministry of Health’s National Malaria Control Programmes. Dejan is affiliated to the University of Oxford, UK and Boston University, USA and is member of several national and international advisory and technical working groups on malaria case management, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation, and operational research.

Prof. Amina Abubakar

Current Students

Derrick Ssewanyana -

Dorcas Magai -

Kashero Kaingu -

Ezra Too -

Past Students

Jane Wangui -

Esther Chongwo -

Agnes Mutua -

Patrick Mwangala -

Patrick Katana -


Amina is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Public Health at Pwani University, Kenya and a Research Fellow at the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Research Programme. She co-leads the Neuroscience research group at KEMRI-WTRP. She is also an honorary fellow at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, UK. She holds the prestigious MRC/DfiD African Research Leaders award. In 2016, she was awarded the Royal Society Pfizer Award. Her main interests are in the study of developmental delays and impairments among children exposed to various health problems such as HIV, malnutrition and malaria. A focus in her work is the development of culturally appropriate strategies for identifying, monitoring and rehabilitating at-risk children. Prof Abubakar has been instrumental in developing various culturally appropriate measures of child development that have been used in many African countries. In addition, she is also interested in examining the prevalence of and risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically ASD, within the African context. Prof. Abubakar has given guest lectures, and workshops largely focusing on cross-cultural research methods in various countries, including Cameroon, Germany, Indonesia, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain. She has (co)-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She has served on technical working groups, and forums for various international organizations including the World Health Organization, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (USA), Save the Children, and Autism Speaks. She is actively involved in capacity building for African Scientists; she has supervised Postgraduate Diploma, Masters and PhD students in Kenya. She has also supervised PhD students from South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

Dr. Ambrose Agweyu

Current Students

Past Students

Margaret Njenga -


Affiliation(s):

Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders, KEMRI – Wellcome Trust, Kenya

Ambrose is a Kenyan paediatrician and epidemiologist, based at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Nairobi. Working closely with the Kenya Ministry of Health in 2009, his early research involved conducting systematic reviews for a national exercise to adapt the World Health Organization pneumonia clinical practice guidelines using the GRADE methodology. Following this, Ambrose was invited to support similar exercises in Uganda and Rwanda. More recently, he was the principal investigator on a large pragmatic clinical trial comparing antibiotic treatments for childhood pneumonia. The findings of this study contributed towards a recent major revision in the Kenyan guidelines, and are likely to eventually influence practice in the region.

For his postdoctoral fellowship under the IDeAL Programme, Ambrose is analysing routine inpatient data collected from an existing clinical information network of 14 Kenyan hospitals to identify high risk groups of children with pneumonia as potential target populations for future interventional studies.

As a member of the core team brought together by the Government of Kenya to drive the Kenya Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (KAPP), Ambrose is also actively involved in advocacy on how best to implement prevention and care for childhood pneumonia and campaigning for greater attention to be paid to this major childhood killer.

Dr. Sophie Uyoga

Current Students

Past Students

Zonia Mupe -

Eva Mwangome -

Charles Kamau -

Perpetual Wanjiku -


Sophie Uyoga has worked at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme since 2004. In 2008, Sophie received a PhD fellowship from the EU Marie-Curie-Action InterMal Training Programme under the mentorship of Prof. Paolo Arese (University of Torino) and Prof. Thomas Williams. In 2012, Sophie completed her PhD at the University of Heidelberg on mechanisms of removal of red blood cells during the development of severe malaria anaemia and protection afforded by red blood cell polymorphisms. In 2016, Sophie was awarded a Mid Career Research Fellowship by IDEAL and she will be investigating the mechanisms behind the development and treatment of severe anaemia with focus on the role of red blood cell genetics and quality of donor blood on recovery and survival post-transfusion

Dr. Georgina Murphy

Current Students

Past Students

Vivian Nyakangi -

Mathias Zosi -


Georgina is a Postdoctoral Researcher in health services epidemiology. Her research is currently focused on essential health services for sick newborns in Kenya and evaluating task-shifting as a means to improving service delivery. Georgina is a Research Associate at Green Templeton College and a consultant for the Naji Foundation. Her PhD at the University of Cambridge focused on the epidemiology of non-communicable diseases in rural Uganda.

Prof. John Ataguba

Current Students

Peter Nguhiu -

Past Students


Affiliation(s):

School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Capetown

Dr. Jane Chuma

Current Students

Dr. Kenneth Munge, MBChB -

Peter Nguhiu -

Past Students


Affiliation(s):

KEMRI – Wellcome Trust, Kenya

Jane completed a PhD in health economics in 2005 from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her research interests include evaluating different health financing mechanisms for universal coverage including health insurance and tax funding; equity in access to health care services and health related interventions and; the relationship between ill health and poverty. Her training fellowship- funded by the Wellcome Trust – explores the feasibility of using health insurance mechanisms to address existing inequities in the Kenyan health system. Jane works closely with the ministries of health to ensure that results from this work inform the development of the Kenyan health financing strategy and the design of a national health insurance scheme. Beyond research, Jane has a keen interest in capacity building for Health Economics in Africa and is one of the founder members of the Masters in Health Economics programme at the University of Nairobi.

Prof. Eduard Sanders

Current Students

Dr. Makobu Kimani, MBChB -

Dr. Clara Agutu, MBChB -

Elizabeth Wahome -

George Makau -

Past Students

Dr. Azraa Mahmoud, MBChB -


Eduard Sanders is an Associate Professor of Tropical Medicine and Global Health at the University of Oxford, and is based in Kilifi, Kenya. He is the principal investigator of several observational studies involving mostly men who have sex with men (MSM) and female sex workers (FSW) in Kilifi, and co-recipient of the SANTHE grant. His interest in diagnosing acute HIV infections was inspired by the many MSM who sought health care prior to seroconversion in coastal Kenya, and the opportunity this presents for reducing onward HIV-1 transmission. He currently leads ongoing studies on the utility of clinical algorithms to identify and diagnose young adults with acute HIV infection at various health facilities in Kenya, enabling early treatment, counselling interventions, and assisted partner notification.

Dr. Symon Kariuki

Past Students

Nelson Langat -

Luke Ondijo -

Judy Baariu -

Dr. Mercy Atieno, BPharm -


Affiliation(s):

KEMRI – Wellcome Trust, Kenya

Dr. Susan Graham

Current Students

Dr. Clara Agutu, MBChB -

Past Students


Susan Graham is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Global Health, and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle and a Visiting Scientist at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme in Kilifi, Kenya. Her major research interests are in two areas: HIV treatment and prevention, with a focus on marginalised populations; and HIV pathogenesis and disease progression. Her work on HIV treatment and prevention in Kenya has focused on female sex workers at the Ganjoni Clinic in Mombasa and on men who have sex with men (MSM) at the KEMRI clinics on the coast and at the Anza Mapema programme in Kisumu. Her work has also focused on genital HIV-1 shedding and its impact on HIV transmission and on the identification of novel biomarkers of increased cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected patients.

Prof. Bob Snow

Current Students

Paul Ouma -

Beatrice Amboko -

Peter Macharia -

Alice Kamau -

Past Students


Bob has worked in Africa for over 32 years. He is Professor of Malaria Epidemiology at the University of Oxford and Principal Scientist in the programme based in Nairobi. His work began with the first clinical trials of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN) in The Gambia (1984-1988) and he has since developed a large programme of work from Kenya on the phenotype of malaria disease, its relationship to parasite exposure and its wider public health burden. His work has influenced international strategies for pro-poor access to ITN, how sub-regional, evidence-based platforms can effectively change malaria treatment policies and how inequities in international donor assistance for malaria control can be changed with appropriate data on risk and national economic capacities at global scales. He has published over 400 articles on malaria, he is the longest serving Oxford scientist of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust collaboration in Kenya (since 1989), he established the MARA pan-African collaboration (1996), was the founding Director of the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP) (2005-2010), is a technical advisor to the Kenyan Government, sits on a number of international malaria advisory panels and is the Senior Advisor to the UK-DFID funded INFORM Project. Bob’s work continues to provide the bridge between basic malaria epidemiology and malaria control policy in the region. From 2015, his work extended to provide support to WHO countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Bob was made a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences in 2008 and an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2015. He is supported by the Wellcome Trust (UK) as a Principal Fellow

Bernadette Kombo

Current Students

Past Students

Rita Mudza -


Bernadette Kombo is a social scientist in HIV Key Population Studies at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya. Bernadette holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and studied for her MSc Public Health – Health Promotion and MA in Peacebuilding at Leeds Beckett University and Coventry University respectively. Her research interests are in Health Communication and especially within HIV prevention, as well as social science research methodology. She has been involved in HIV early diagnosis research and health systems strengthening for HIV testing, care and treatment for key populations. Her previous work involved HIV prevention interventions, and moving forward she is interested in intersecting HIV research and practice.

Dr. John Waitumbi

Current Students

Patience Kiyuka -

Past Students


Affiliation(s)

Walter Reed Project, USAMRU-K/KEMRI

Prof. Benn Sartorious

Current Students

Peter Macharia -

Past Students


My academic qualifications includes a PhD in applied epidemiology/biostatistics, a 2-year applied field epidemiology fellowship (European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training [EPIET]) and an MSc in epidemiology and biostatistics. My research interests include: cancer epidemiology with an increased focus on the viral etiology thereof, global and regional underestimation of specific cancers in developing settings with poor quality data, Bayesian spatial-temporal modelling, risk determinant estimation for longitudinal outcomes within various statistical frameworks and application of inequality indices to health outcomes. I have more than a 100 international peer reviewed publications. I have served as a reviewer for more than a dozen international ISI accredited journals (e.g. BMC Medicine, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, American Journal of Public Health) thus far. I’m also an associate editor for BMC Public Health and an official reviewer for Geospatial Health. I joined the Global Burden of Disease (GDB) Project from 2015 and was invited to be a member of the GBD Scientific Council shortly thereafter.

Prof. Meri Soppo

Current Students

Patience Kiyuka -

Past Students


Affiliation(s):

University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland

Prof. Thumbi Ndung’u

Current Students

Dr. Ian Oyaro, BVM -

Past Students


Thumbi Ndung’u is both the SANTHE Programme Director and the Director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP). He also heads a laboratory at AHRI (the African Health Research Institute) – previously known as K-RITH (the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV), which is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. Ndung’u is interested in understanding antiviral immune mechanisms and viral adaptation in HIV-1 subtype C infection as a pathway to vaccine development. The development of a safe, affordable and efficacious HIV-1 vaccine is perhaps the defining scientific challenge of our time. Rational vaccine design will require a better understanding of immune correlates of HIV-1 protection or control. His laboratory focuses on individuals who remain HIV negative despite possible repeated exposure to the virus and those infected who achieve durable viral control without the help of antiretroviral therapies. These individuals may hold the key to vaccine development or novel therapies.

Prof. Charles Newton

Past Students

Judy Baariu -

Dr. Mercy Atieno, BPharm -


Charles Newton qualified from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with postgraduate training in Paediatrics in Manchester and London, United Kingdom. As a lecturer at University of Oxford, he went to Kilifi Kenya in 1989, to help set up a unit to study severe malaria in African children. Thereafter he spent 2 years as a Post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins, USA; studying mechanisms of brain damage in central nervous system infections. He completed his training in Paediatric Neurology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, UK. In 1998 he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellowship at University College London, to return to Kilifi, to study CNS infections in children. He conducts research on CNS infections in children; epidemiological studies of epilepsy and neurological impairment; tetanus, jaundice and sepsis in neonates. He is particularly interested in behavioural comorbidity of neurological conditions in children.  In 2011 he took up a professorship in Psychiatry at the University of Oxford to conduct studies of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Epilepsy in Africa and Autism in the United Kingdom and Lithuania

Dr. Eunice Nduati

Current Students

Dr. Ian Oyaro, BVM -

Past Students

Zaneta Kidiavai -

Shaban Mwangi -


I joined the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) in Nairobi working on antimalarial drug resistance. In 2005 I transferred to Kilifi to pursue my interest in the immunology of infectious diseases under the Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite (BiolMalPar) Ph.D. training programme. This was a collaborative programme with time spent between the UK and Kenya. My thesis was on understanding host immune responses, specifically B-cell regulation in malaria. On returning to Kenya, I was awarded 6 months funding by BIOMALPAR/European Molecular Biology Laboratories (EMBL) a European Union Initiative to understand the role of soluble factors, such as the B cell activating factor (BAFF) on B-cell differentiation and function. I then successfully obtained a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship, which supported my work on B-cell regulation in HIV infection and exposure. The aim of this work was to understand whether exposure to HIV virus or antigens, antiretroviral drugs and/or an altered placental cytokine milieu, in utero, affects the developing immune system in infants born to HIV infected mothers but are themselves not infected. In HIV infection, I have been involved in understanding B cell phenotypic and functional changes in HIV infected children. Currently I hold a mid-career fellowship with the IDeAL program at KWTRP and working within the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)-Vaccine Immunology Science and Technology for Africa (IAVI-VISTA) consortium, which has established longitudinal HIV cohorts. My work involves understanding adaptive immune responses, specifically T cell and B cell functions in early HIV infection and how this may impact on subsequent disease outcomes.

Prof. Alison Elliot

Current Students

John Muthii Muriuki -

Past Students


Alison Elliott is a Professor of Tropical Medicine and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, head of the Co-infection Studies research programme at the MRC/Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) Unit and director of the Makerere University – UVRI Centre of Excellence for Infection and Immunity Research and Training. She became interested in parasitology and research in Africa as an undergraduate and this interest was encouraged further by an elective in The Gambia. After completing medical training she joined the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and, during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, undertook studies on the interaction between tuberculosis and HIV infection in Zambia. An infectious diseases fellowship in Denver, Colorado, followed, providing an opportunity to learn about management of drug resistant tuberculosis and about laboratory immunology. This enabled her to plan and conduct subsequent clinical-immuno-epidemiological studies. Since 1997 she has been based in Uganda at the Uganda Virus Research Institute. Current interests focus on interactions between co-infections, and on the effects of helminth infection on immune responses to vaccines and on infectious and allergic disease incidence in children in Uganda; and on research capacity building in Africa.