African Researchers get Funding to Tackle Infectious diseases

African Researchers get Funding to Tackle Infectious diseases

Five African scientists have received funding to conduct research that will contribute to global efforts to reduce the burden and threat of locally relevant infectious diseases in Africa.

The five fellows will be funded through the TIBA-AAS Out of
Africa Postdoctoral Fellowship programme for a year as visiting fellows of the
University of Edinburgh.

They will conduct basic and implementation research ranging
from the impact of mass drug administration as a means of controlling parasitic
diseases of public health concern to the ethics of clinical trials conducted in
Africa.

Their research addresses knowledge gaps and will generate
new knowledge, which will advance efforts to tackle infectious diseases.

The fellowship programme is a groundbreaking, new
collaboration between the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the UK National
Institutes of Health Research Global Health Unit Tackling Infections to Benefit
Africa (TIBA) at the University of Edinburgh.

TIBA is an Africa-led, wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary
partnership which brings together world-class researchers from nine African
countries, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania,
Uganda and Zimbabwe plus colleagues from the University of Edinburgh to
generate new knowledge and inform comparative analyses of health systems.

Funding for the Fellowships has been provided by the
University of Edinburgh- which will also provide supervisors for the research
work done by the five researchers.

The five scientists, from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South
Africa, and are the first cohort to be funded through the TIBA-AAS Out of
Africa Postdoctoral Fellowship programme are:

Dr Mohamed Elhadidy, University of Science and Technology,
Zewail City of Science and Technology, Egypt, who investigate the ecology,
epidemiology, and evolution of clinical Staphylococcus aureus (a zoonotic bacterial
pathogens) using different comparative genome analysis and population genetics
approaches. His project will use various genomics tools for molecular
characterization of different genetic markers that play a role in virulence
potential, antimicrobial resistance and transmission of this pathogen.  

Dr Jesse Gitaka, Mount Kenya University, Kenya- whose work
will enhance the understanding and use of genetic tools for malaria
surveillance. It will explore the impact of mass drug administration, mass screening
and treatment and how the travel of infected individuals across different
geographical regions has impacted the genetic diversity of Plasmodium
falciparum — the species of Plasmodium that causes malaria in humans — in
Kenya’s Lake Victoria Islands.

Dr Miriam Njoki Karinja, University of Nairobi Institute of
Tropical and Infectious Diseases, Kenya- whose work aims to determine
spatial-temporal patterns and hotpots for infectious diseases in Kenya using
data from the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) for the
period 2012 -2019. She also intends to study the functionality and efficiency
of community health units in collecting data and to determine how these data
affect quality and availability at the national level for decision-making. 

Dr Ajoke Ehimiyein, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria – who
will work on the use of laboratory models and a range of immunological and
microscopic techniques to investigate immune-related pathology in the intestine
during Plasmodium chabaudi infection in mice.  

Dr Blessing Silaigwana, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South
Africa- who will explore clinical trial designs and ethical considerations
governing emergency research during epidemics in Africa. His project will
contribute to developing an African framework for research ethics during
outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is a non-aligned,
non-political, not-for-profit pan African organisation. The AAS’s vision is to
see transformed lives on the African continent through science. The AAS is
currently implementing six postdoctoral programmes funding more than 200
African rising research leaders.