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Focus: Vector Biology

Affiliation: Gulu University


Site and Background:

Gulu University presents one of the best training sites in infectious diseases and non-communicable chronic diseases in Eastern and Central Africa. Gulu University is one of the eight public universities in Uganda. It was established in 2002, and currently has five faculties: Medicine, Agriculture and Environment, Science, Education and Humanities, and Business Studies. The university is located at the heart of the northern area which was devastated by war for two decades that forced nearly two million people into internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps devoid of social service delivery systems. The war had a serious impact on human life and development activities e.g. education, health, agriculture, and the economy. For a couple of years, several outbreaks of infectious diseases have happened in the region. The number of non-communicable diseases is on the increase.

Currently, there is a high demand for the application of science and technology to facilitate rapid economic recovery of northern Uganda. Gulu University, being a key academic center of the region, has been challenged with the task of playing a leading role in post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation through; provision of human resources in the areas of education, health, agriculture, technology, research and other services. Accordingly, Gulu University has academic programs that include: PhDs, Masters and Bachelor degrees courses.

Through joint funding from the World Bank and Uganda Government, the university established a Bioscience Research Laboratories. Additional support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Seeding Lab Programme Boston have upgraded our laboratory research facility. We continue to conduct studies in this research facility on antimalarial drug resistance and metagenomic diagnosis of infectious disease in joint collaboration with Osaka University, Japan. Our Research facility works very closely with St Mary’s Hospital Lacor and Gulu Regional Referral Hospital on antimalarial drug resistance and metagenomic studies. We have also conducted a number of NIH/ NIAID supported projects (NIAID PR03 TW008755, R21 A109615 and R1068932) and continue to do so with Prof. Serap Aksoy and Dr. Gisella Caccone from Yale University. Dr. Richard Echodu who was directly supported by GID Fogarty completed for his PhD studies awarded by Gulu University was mentored by Prof. Serap Aksoy and Dr. Gisella Caccone. For his PhD research, Dr. Echodu was positioned at Gulu University and used the laboratory facilities to collect field samples. Gulu University is currently constructing a new four storage multi-functional research laboratories that will be completed by December 2017 through support from African Development Bank.

Currently, we have one GID Fogarty supported PhD student carrying his studies in Gulu University Laboratory. We also have other 3 PhD and 5 MSc students currently conducting their research in our laboratory. We have hosted one PhD student from the Institute of Tropical Medicine Belgium for two years in our laboratory. This year 2016, we have already hosted 2 MScs students from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom and Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame, Indiana USA. We have hosted 6 Japanese Scientists coming from different universities in Japan. Currently, we are working with the Yale Scientists to organize an international workshop in Fall 2016 on Vector Biology to be hosted at Gulu University.

We have two insectaries for housing mosquitoes and tsetse flies. These facilities continued to be used by our students pursuing Master of Science in Applied Tropical Entomology and Parasitology. Our research facility also has two double pickup tracks dedicated to supporting students’ field activities. We also have a strong Institution Research Ethics Committee headed by Prof. Emilio Ovuga. Uganda National Council for Science and Technology through the president of Uganda office approves all human studies in Uganda.

Website: Aksoy Lab