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. Nelson Kibinge

Current Students

Past Students

John Mutua -

Phoebe Matara -

Khadija Said -

Lister Mirarwa -


Affiliation(s):

IDeAL, KEMRI – Wellcome Trust, Kenya 

Nelson Kibinge is a postdoctoral researcher in the virus epidemiology and control (VEC) laboratory at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust since April 2016. He holds a BSc (Biology) degree from the University of Nairobi and an MSc and PhD (Computational Biology) from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan. Although originally a biologist, he has recently focused on bioinformatics research involving development of computational tools for sequence analysis, phylogenetics and transcriptomics. His current research project focuses on designing optimum sampling strategies for RSV surveillance. He also has a significant interest in spatial epidemiology and computational ecology.

Dr. Edwine Barasa

Current Students

Dr. Kenneth Munge, MBChB -

Peter Nguhiu -

Past Students

Dennis Waithaka -

Joshua Munywoki -


Edwine is a health economist, and currently heads the health economics research unit (HERU), and co-leads for the health systems research theme of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya. He has over 10 years practice and research experience in health economics and systems, with research interests in health financing, equity, poverty, efficiency, economic evaluation of healthcare interventions, measuring health systems performance, priority setting and resource allocation, and health system governance. Edwine was awarded a Wellcome Trust Masters Fellowship enabling him to obtain a Masters Degree in Health Economics from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and subsequently, a PhD in Health Economics in 2015 from the same University. In 2015, Edwine was awarded a 3 Wellcome-Trust Research Training fellowship in public health and tropical medicine to conduct research that examines the equity and pro-poorness of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) reforms in Kenya. Before joining the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Edwine worked as a clinical pharmacist for 2 years in both the public and private sectors.

Dr. Benjamin Tsofa

Past Students

Dr. Hassan Leli, BPharm -

Samwel Nyamweya -

Dennis Waithaka -

Beatrice Mkubwa -

Joshua Munywoki -


Dr Tsofa is the Center Director for the KEMRI Centre for Geographic Medical Research – Coast. Tsofa trained in Dental Surgery at the University of Nairobi, and in Leadership and Management at KIA and MSH. He moved to Kilifi in 2004 as a clinical dentist, was appointed Deputy Hospital Superintendent in 2005, and then as District Medical Officer of Health for Kilifi District in 2006. As DMOH, working closely with Prof Marsh and Dr Peshu, he set up the KEMRI/MOH District Managers group and drafted the Programme’s MOH engagement policy guidelines. Tsofa took study leave from the Ministry and joined the Programme in April 2009 to coordinate the interactions of the Programme and the two ministries of health in Kenya.

Dr. Etienne de Villers

Current Students

Past Students

Zaneta Kidiavai -

Kevin Oluoch -


Etienne de Villiers is a Principal Investigator in Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford and has been employed since 2012 to establish a Bioinformatics and Genomics platform at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya. He graduated from Stellenbosch University in South Africa with a M.Sc. in Biochemistry, and was appointed Researcher and later, Senior Researcher at the Agricultural Research Council – Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in South Africa in 1992. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Utrecht University, The Netherlands in 2001. He is a molecular biologist by training that developed an interest in computing and ventured into the area of bioinformatics and has an interest in the application of bioinformatics to develop vaccines and diagnostics for orphan diseases of both livestock and now humans. At Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute he was part of the team that sequenced the first bacterial genome in Africa (Ehrlichia ruminantium) and in 2002 he accepted a Postdoctoral Scientist position at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya to establish a bioinformatics unit to support the Theileria parva genome-sequencing project in collaboration with The Institute of Genomic Research (TIGR) to develop a vaccine against East Coast Fever. In 2003 he was appointed as scientist and Bioinformatics Group Leader at the ILRI-BecA platform. He is actively involved in capacity building in bioinformatics in East and central Africa and has introduced several hundred students to the subject. He currently has an appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor at Pwani University, Department of Public Health and is executive board member of EMBnet, The Global Bioinformatics Network.

Dr. Dorcas Kamuya

Current Students

Past Students

Gulatoon Teresa -

Dr. Ali Kipkoech, BVM -


Affilliation(s):

KEMRI – Wellcome Trust, Kenya

Dorcas is a post-doctoral Researcher in Ethics and Community Engagement on the Global Bioethics Network at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford. She is primarily based at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust (KWTRP), Kenya and works across the UK and the five Wellcome Trust’s Major Overseas Programmes (MOPs) in Kenya, Thailand, Malawi, Vietnam, and South Africa. Her roles include facilitating the strategic development of community engagement activities at KWTRP; coordinating Global Bioethics Network activities aimed at sharing of expertise in community engagement across the MOPs; and developing and leading a research programme around the evaluation of community engagement. Her research interests include ethical implications of community engagement processes in international collaborative research in developing countries; exploring drivers of CE in health research; and ethical and practical challenges and dilemmas for interface research staff. Dorcas’s previous role, as the Community Liaison Manager, included setting-up mechanisms for engaging with over 260,000 residents often involved in health research, strengthening collaborative partnerships between KWTRP and key health stakeholders, providing support to research interface staff (especially fieldworkers), and carrying our action research around these activities. Dorcas has a PhD from the Open University, UK; a Masters in Public Health (health promotion) from London School of Hygiene and Tropical, and a BSc. in Agricultural Economics from Egerton University, Kenya.

Dr. Osman Abdullahi

Current Students

Past Students

Carol Abidha -

Dr. Azraa Mahmoud, MBChB -


Affiliations:

Pwani University

Prof. Caroline Jones

Current Students

Dr. Jacquie Narosto Oliwa, MBChB -

Past Students


Affiliation(s):

KEMRI – Wellcome Trust, Kenya

Caroline Jones, a senior social scientist, joined the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in February 2010. With a background in medical anthropology her research over the past 15 years has focused on treatment seeking and preventive behaviors for malaria and the factors that influence provider practices in sub-Saharan Africa. More recently she has been looking at the implement ability and sustainability of public health interventions, focusing on issues relating to social relationships, organizational structure and management and leadership. Research capacity strengthening and the promotion of the appropriate use of high quality social science research in the development and implementation of public health policy are major concerns underpinning much of her work. A key role in her current position is to contribute to building Kenyan and regional expertise to develop and lead such research.

Dr. Emelda Okiro

Current Students

Paul Ouma -

Peter Macharia -

Past Students

Basil Okola -


Emelda has over 15 years of professional experience in Epidemiology and Public health and heads the Population health unit. She has worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Philips Research Africa and also worked with several partners including PMI and ICF Macro.

Emelda returned to the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme in October 2016 from a Senior Health Scientist position at Philips Research Africa. She is leading the Population Health unit and Research theme within the Programme which aims to understand changing epidemiology of malaria, understand the determinants of health transitions and vulnerabilities at fine scales a major component of which is malnutrition in Kenya and across Africa, and to embed the use of data for decision-making by national ministries.

Her current work focuses on exploring the spatial heterogeneity of child survival across Kenya using multiple survey data to map and explore the Spatial, Social and Environmental determinants of childhood mortality. Emelda has previously worked on the measurements of trends of P. falciparum burden across sites of varying malaria endemicities in Africa and on evaluating the impact of scaled malaria control interventions and supporting regional Ministries of Health in Uganda, Malawi and Kenya. At the Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington, Seattle Emelda worked on identifying determinants of cost-effective anti-retroviral treatment programs in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

During her academic research career, she has been awarded two internationally competitive Wellcome Trust Research Fellowships. Emelda is widely published and has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Egerton University, Kenya and a PhD in Epidemiology through the Open University – UK in collaboration with Warwick University, UK.

James Wafula

Current Students

Past Students

Anthony Onyango -


James joined the Programme in November 2015 as a Senior Data Manager. Prior to joining the programme, he worked in the banking industry as an ICT Systems Administrator before leaving to pursue master’s degree programmes in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany under the Commonwealth and Erasmus Mundus scholarship schemes. James is currently improving the HSU portal and developing tools for data management and data curation. He is also assisting in documenting the R analysis scripts to ensure that the changes are tractable. He has interests in Statistical modelling and high performance computing using open source software, and he hopes to develop algorithms that will further improve analysis and data management processes at the Health Services Unit. He is currently assisting Dr. Philip Ayieko in leading the data and analysis

Prof. Sam Kariuki

Current Students

Dr. Esther Muthumbi, MBChB -

Past Students


Affiliation(s):

Centre for Microbiology Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK 

Sam Kariuki is Director of the Centre for Microbiology Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and co-ordinator of the postgraduate Medical Microbiology Course hosted by the Institute in Nairobi.

Sam graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi in 1989 and then obtained a MSc in Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Nairobi in 1991. He obtained his PhD (Tropical Medicine) from the University of Liverpool in 1997.

As a postdoctoral fellow funded by the Wellcome Trust, Sam researched on the epidemiology and molecular characterisation of invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis (NTS), which is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. NTS is common in the region in HIV-positive adults and in children where the infection causes high morbidity and mortality. Utilising basic molecular tools, Sam hypothesised that person-to-person rather than zoonotic transmission was playing a significant role in the epidemiology of community-acquired NTS. Despite scepticism from some scientists this has proven to be correct, a conclusion reached through joint genome analysis linked to field epidemiology carried out with the Sanger Institute.

Sam also works in the area of improving food hygiene through surveillance of other enteric pathogens including cholera, dysentery, typhoid and E. coli contamination through the food chain, funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Because antibiotic resistance is a major problem in the region, Sam is also involved in routine surveillance and monitoring of resistance and chairs the national and regional working groups on antimicrobial resistance. He is now an internationally recognised authority in his field and mentors local African scientists through the postgraduate training courses hosted by KEMRI. Importantly, his laboratory is embedded in a government research institute and is largely independent of core Western funding. However, his laboratory is closely linked to the Wellcome Trust Clinical Unit in Kilifi headed by Kevin Marsh.

Dr. Elise van der Elst

Current Students

Past Students

Rita Mudza -


Elise van der Elst (PhD, University of Amsterdam) is a sociobehavioural scientist with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) – Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP), based in Kilifi, Kenya, since 2003. Her current qualitative social research focuses on two main areas: implementation research of HIV care and prevention involving gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) and female sex workers (including PrEP provision and uptake, oral self-testing, and understanding acute HIV infection); and improving HIV service delivery for key populations. She collaborates with Ministry of Health and county health staff, producing new thinking, evidence and recommendations around strengthening key players’ involvement in health service delivery for key populations in Kenya. This takes forward her prior work and includes significant capacity strengthening elements.

Dr. Charles Sande

Past Students

Jacqueline Waeni -

John Mutua -

Timothy Chege -


I’m interested in applying modern systems tools to identify biomarkers of life-threatening infections in infants. Our studies are underpinned by a well-established demographic and health surveillance system that integrates comprehensive clinical, laboratory and demographic data for all infants who are admitted to hospital with severe infections as well as those with relatively mild infections. Using samples (nasal secretions, PBMC, serum and whole blood tempus RNA samples) collected from infants presenting with a broad spectrum of disease severity – ranging from life-threatening to mild infections – we employ a broad range of systems biology approaches – including proteomics, transcriptomics, metagenomics and systems serology – to identify biomarkers of life-threatening severe disease in infants.