This site will provide training opportunities in lab and field based aspect of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The training site will be based at the Center for Global Health Research (CGHR) Neglected Tropical Diseases Research Unit, of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). KEMRI is the premier research body in Kenya charged with biomedical research and regulation. At CGHR, KEMRI’s NTD Unit is housed together with the KEMRI-CDC NTD Branch for close collaboration with CDC Kenya. The site will be under the coordination of Foreign PI Dr. Pauline Mwinzi, and the KEMRI/CDC Branch Chief, Dr. Maurice Odiere. Mwinzi and Odiere have worked together since 2005 to establish the twin departments focusing on NTDs. The department currently has 25 staff including 2 ongoing PhD candidates, two post-doctoral fellows and several Masters Students. Further, in the past 3 years our team has graduated 2 PhDs, and 10 Masters.
The schistosomiasis research unit has an excellent track record in successfully graduating trainees. Previous training grants in the department include a previous D43 held by Prof. Daniel Colley and Dr. Diana Karanja. The current applicant, Dr. Mwinzi was one of the first postdoctoral fellows within the program and is now leading several independent research projects. Building on previous successes, the proposed program will establish measures to career track trainees and to guide them towards established careers beyond the proposed training program.
The Site Principal investigator, Dr. Pauline Mwinzi is a former Fogarty trainee for International Postgraduate Diploma in International Research Ethics –IRENSA, University of Cape Town, where she emerged the leading candidate in the class of 2005. She is also a former D43 trainee at the postdoctoral level [mentors Dr. Daniel Colley and Dr. Diana Karanja], completing in 2008. Dr. Mwinzi has since led 10 extramural grants as principal investigator. Four of these are in the applied basic sciences to understand the immunology of schistosomiasis with the aim of contributing to the long term goal of immunological control, while three are on schistosomiasis operational research/mass drug administration. The site C0-PI, Dr. Maurice Odiere returned to Kenya in 2009 from the Institute from MacGill University where he completed his PhD studies in Parasitology. He is currently providing support for all parasitological studies within the department and co-supervising current graduate students.
The NTD Unit at KEMRI has over the years expanded the collaborative pool to include several partners and funders including university of Georgia Athens, Boston University Medical School EDCTP, EU among others. Current collaborative grants are supported by NIH, BMGF, CDC, STC Biologics, Merk & Co and WHO.
Our NTD Unit hosts an Annual NTD conference in Kisumu, now in its 10thyear. This conference provides an excellent opportunity to young scientists to disseminate their research findings at a national level. Recently, in collaboration with Prof. Serap Aksoy we established “ASTMH in Kenya” in partnership with the American Society for Tropical Medicine and hygiene, in which Prof. Aksoy is a Board Member. This further has extended the exposure for trainees and young scientists to international level.