Out of Africa

  • Botswana - Dr Tsepo Ramatla

    Development and evaluation of a colorimetric isothermal PCR based assay and an antigen multiplex diagnostic kit for the detection of urogenital and intestinal schistosomiasis.

  • Ghana - Dr Henrietta Mensah-Brown

    Identification of Plasmodium falciparum var gene sequences in IgM-binding rosetting clinical isolates

  • Kenya - Dr Simon Masha

    Feasibility Assessment for Health System Requirements for inclusion of Chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis screening in the  routine ANC screening in Kenya

  • Rwanda - Dr Jean-Pierre Munyampundu

    Evaluation of mixed malaria infections and developing a responsive surveillance of malaria infections in Rwanda

  • Rwanda - Dr Said Rutabayiro Ngoga

    Evaluation of mixed malaria infections and developing a responsive surveillance of malaria infections in Rwanda

  • South Africa - Dr Muhubiri Kabuyaya

    Review of National Mass Drug Administration Programmes of Schistosomiasis done in sub-Saharan Africa: Case of Uganda and Tanzania/Zanzibar

  • Sudan - Dr Mohamed Abdelrahim

    Analysis of whole genome sequences of Sudanese Leishmania donovani clinical isolates for development of new diagnostics, treatment and vaccines

  • Tanzania - Dr Upendo John Mwingira

    Impact of selective and timed schistosomiasis treatment strategies on prevalence, intensity and urinary morbidities among pre-and-school going children in north-western Tanzania

  • Tanzania - Dr Humphrey Mazigo

    Impact of selective and timed schistosomiasis treatment strategies on prevalence, intensity and urinary morbidities among pre-and-school going children in north-western Tanzania

  • Uganda - Dr Albert Mugenyi

    Model to strengthen disease information system for decision support using Ugandan tsetse, Animal and Human Trypanosomiasis data

  • Zimbabwe - Dr Farisai Chidzwondo

    Immuno-diagnostics technologies for NTDs and other infectious diseases

  • Zimbabwe - Professor Takafira Mduluza

    Design and development of diseases surveillance technology tools. Bioinformatics on molecular diseases diagnosis tool

  • Zimbabwe - Professor Simbarashe Rusakaniko

    Handling and manipulation of bioinformatics from disease surveillances

Dr Tsepo Ramatla holds a PhD in Animal Health from the North West University (South Africa). His PhD project focused on the role played by rodents in spreading Salmonella in poultry houses. The rodents were identified to species level by PCR using the Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI) and the Cytochrome-b (Cyt-b) barcoding genes. The rodents were checked for the presence of Salmonella, and the Salmonella isolates subsequently evaluated for the presence of antibiotic resistance and virulence genes by phenotypic and genotypic methods. Tsepo has been involved in other research projects, which encompassed the screening for antibiotic residues using different analytical methods like ELISA, TLC and HPLC. In his current project, Tsepo will be evaluating the diagnostic potential of DNA Based PCR assays for the detection of urogenital and intestinal Schistosomiasis in Botswana. Species-specific DNA markers that are found to be reliable in this study will be used to develop a colorimetric field based isothermal PCR diagnostic assay. For his Out of Africa fellowship, Tsepo will be evaluating the diagnostic potential of DNA-based PCR assays for the detection of urogenital and intestinal Schistosomiasis in Botswana. Species-specific DNA markers that are found to be reliable in this study will be used to develop a colorimetric field based isothermal PCR diagnostic assay.
  • Home institution supervisor: Dr Matsheka Maitshwarelo
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Francisca Mutapi (School of Biological Sciences)
Dr Henrietta Mensah-Brown holds a Bachelor's degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, a Master's in Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases from the University of Ghana. Her research areas are malaria biology and immunology, focusing on the pathogenesis of Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) malaria in children. One aspect of her work is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms used by Plasmodium falciparum for invasion of red blood cells. Another aspect is focused on investigating immune responses to proteins used in red cell invasion and the targets of invasion inhibitory antibodies. As a TIBA Out of Africa Fellow, her work will focus on Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP-1) which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of severe malaria. Specifically, the study is aimed at identifying conserved motifs in clinical isolates that are recognised by anti-PfEMP-1 antibodies. This is intended to provide evidence of conserved targets of immunity that can serve as the basis for the development of a malaria vaccine to mitigate severe disease. Henrietta will undertake research on 'Identification of Plasmodium falciparum var gene sequences in IgM-binding rosetting clinical isolates' in collaboration with Professor Alex Rowe of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh. Previous studies have identified that IgM-positive rosetting parasites express a subset of Group A PfEMP1 variants characterised by an unusual PfEMP1 architecture and a distinct N-terminal domain. Furthermore, antibodies raised against the N-terminal domain were strain transcending and showed functional activity such as surface reactivity with live infected erythrocytes (IEs), rosette inhibition and induction of phagocytosis of IEs in laboratory-adapted parasite lines. This current study will extend our investigations to clinical isolates of P. falciparum in Ghana, and provide evidence of conserved targets of immunity that can serve as the basis for the development of a malaria vaccine to mitigate severe disease.
  • Home institution supervisor: Professor Gordon Awandare
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Alex Rowe (School of Biological Sciences)
Dr Simon Masha holds a degree in Medical Laboratory Science from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya, a Master's degree in Molecular Biology from "Vrije Universite Brussels, Belgium" and earned a PhD in Health Sciences from Ghent University, Belgium. He is a passionate medical researcher with a special interest in curable, sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Dr Masha's main research focus is on chlamydia and trichomoniasis among pregnant women. He has previously investigated the burden of curable STIs, the factors associated with STIs amongst pregnant women in Kilifi, Kenya, and the genetic characterisation of Trichomonas isolates from Kilifi, Kenya. Dr Masha is a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at Pwani University in Kilifi, Kenya where he lectures and provides mentorship to bachelors and master's students at the University. His postdoctoral research involves a feasibility assessment for health system requirements for inclusion of chlamydia, and trichomoniasis screening in the routine antenatal care screening of public health facilities in Kenya. Under the Out of Africa Fellowship Dr Masha will undertake research on 'Feasibility assessment for health system requirements for inclusion of Chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis screening in the routine ANC screening in Kenya' in collaboration with Professor Liz Grant of the Global Health Academy and Dr Geoff Banda, Innogen Institute, University of Edinburgh.
  • Home institution supervisor: Dr Sam Kinyanjui
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Liz Grant (Global Health Academy) and Dr Geoff Banda (Innogen Institute)
Dr Jean-Pierre Munyampundu holds a PhD degree in Molecular Plant Pathology from Zhejiang University, China, a Master's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Xiamen University, China, and a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Chemistry with Education from the University of Rwanda. He also undertook a short post-doctoral training in Professor Jacob Souopgui's Laboratory at the Institute of Biology and Molecular Medicine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. Currently, Dr Munyamupundu is a Lecturer at the College of Science and Technology, in the University of Rwanda (UR-CST) and the Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology in the Biotechnology Laboratory Complex, University of Rwanda, Huye Campus. His current research interest is on evaluation of malaria infections by Plasmodium mixed species in Rwanda. He is seeking to investigate the prevalence of mixed-species malaria infections, assess a molecular-based method to accurately detect them in clinical samples in low-resource settings, as well as generate preliminary data useful for gaining insight into inter-species interactions of malaria parasites in mixed infections. Under the Out of Africa Fellowship Dr Munyampundu will undertake research on 'Evaluation of mixed malaria infections and developing a responsive surveillance of malaria infections in Rwanda' in collaboration with Professor Alex Rowe of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh.
  • Home institution supervisor: Dr Nadine Rujeni
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Alex Rowe (School of Biological Sciences)
Dr Said Rutabayiro Ngoga got his PhD at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH-Sweden) in 2014 within the main area of Telecommunication Systems. Special emphasis was on dynamic spectrum access as an enabling technology for increasing the efficiency of wireless communications by using cognitive radio networking. He is a Lecturer in the School of Engineering, College of Science and Technology and University of Rwanda and the Postgraduate Coordinator in the School of ICT. Dr Ngoga research interests are within the main areas of wireless networks, cognitive radio networks, and recent developmental applications of ICT such as e-government and IoT. Dr Ngoga has published several works in peer reviewed journals. Malaria still continues to impose a substantial burden on global public health. In Rwanda, there is a serious problem of the disease resurgence since 2012. The resurgence has been attributed to different factors including inappropriate use of insecticide-treated nets, spread of insecticide resistance in mosquito vectors, and drug-resistant Plasmodium among others. Therefore, coordinated endeavors have been stepped up in Rwanda in response to malaria resurgence. These include proper use of the insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), the plan to introduce the G2 and PBO nets to overcome pyrethroid resistance and establishment of a research centre to monitor the emergence and prevalence of Anopheles mosquitoes resistant to insecticides used for malaria control. Other efforts focused on strengthening surveillance systems. However, malaria resurgence is a complex phenomenon that requires a multi-disciplinary approach to contribute the disease effective treatment and management of the disease. The present study will integrate diagnostics of mixed species malaria infection and real time malaria surveillance. Dr Ngoga will focus of the following objectives: (i) to evaluate the existence of non-P. falciparum malaria and potential for mixed-species infections in Rwanda; (ii) to assess a diagnostic test suitable for accurately detect different Plasmodium species in clinical samples for ultimate use in low- resource settings; (iii) to analyze transcriptome (RNA-seq) of whole blood samples infected with mixed parasite species to gain insight into inter-species interactions of parasites, (iv) to develop a model that allow to represent malaria data in a format knowledgeable to policy makers, (v) to develop a query language based on the underlying data model (vi) to deploy a surveillance tool that implement the underlying query language allowing health professionals/policy makers to formulate a wide range of queries and retrieve feedbacks within a reasonable amount of time and minimum efforts.
  • Home institution supervisor: Dr Richard Musabe
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Mark Woolhouse (Usher Institute)
Dr Muhubiri Kabuyaya is a passionate academic with considerable interests in medical research. He holds a PhD degree in Public Health Medicine from the University of KwaZulu-Natal where he has been accumulating experience in a transdisciplinary health research team. He also has a degree in Medicine from the Universite Evangelique en Afrique (UEA), Demogratic Republic of Congo and aims to channel his clinical knowledge and his public health experience to improving the health care system. He has a special interest in tropical infectious diseases. Dr Kabuyaya's main research focus is on schistosomiasis. He investigated the risk factors of schistosomiasis transmission and the efficacy of the repeated standard dose of praziquantel against Schistosoma haematobium among school-going children in the Ingwavuma area of uMkhanyakude district in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He has recently assessed the efficacy of praziquantel given at 40 and 60 mg/kg body weight. His Out of Africa Fellowship will 'Review the National Mass Drug Administration Programmes of schistosomiasis conducted in in sub-Saharan Africa: Case of Tanzania/Zanzibar, Uganda and Zimbabwe'. This will be in collaboration with Professor Liz Grant of the Global Health Academy, University of Edinburgh.
  • Home institution supervisor: Professor Moses Chimbari
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Liz Grant (Global Health Academy)
Dr Mohamed Abdelrahim holds a BSc and MSc in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum. He obtained a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman. His PhD thesis was on “Genetic diversity, drug resistance and transmission potential of imported Plasmodium vivax in malaria-free region with comparison with the areas of origin in Asia and Africa”. He has been participating in several research projects on malaria and Leishmania genomics. He is currently working as post-doctoral fellow in Professor Maowia Mukhtar's Laboratory at the Ibn Sina University, Sudan. Dr. Abdelrahim's Out of Africa Fellowship will involve the analysis of whole genome sequences of Sudanese Leishmania donovani isolates from different clinical forms in collaboration with Professor Mark Blaxter of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh. He hopes to identify parasite genomic markers associated with the pathogenesis of the different clinical forms. The study also aims to identify diagnostic, treatment and vaccine genomic markers using next-generation sequencing. The project will lead to the establishment of a genomic sequencing and bioinformatic unit for training of young Sudanese scientists.
  • Home institution supervisor: Professor Maowia Mukhtar
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Mark Blaxter (Edinburgh Genomics)
Dr Upendo John Mwingira is a medical Doctor with Master's in Tropical Medicine and PhD in Medical Research-International Health. She is a Senior Research Scientist at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She is the current National Programme Manager of Neglected Tropical disease (NTD) control Programme of the Ministry of Health in Tanzania Mainland. Dr Mwingira is a member of WHO Global Onchocerciasis Technical Subcommittee (OTS), Global Schistosomiasis Advisory committee (GSA), Tanganyika Medical association (MAT) and American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH). Her research focus is on the NTDs particularly PcNTDs (Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Soil transmitted Helminths, Trachoma, Schistosomiasis). She is interested in co-infection of helminths and other infectious diseases such as malaria, anaemia and growth parameters. Dr Mwingira has more than 10 years of research and programme implementation experience. She has established and successfully coordinated partnerships with various donors and multilateral organisations to support NTD implementation in the country. Dr Mwingira is the country principal investigator of the 2 multi-country large scale researches known as Tackling infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) and Tackling Obstacles to Fight Filariasis and Podoconiosis (TAKeOFF). She has credits of 16 publications to date and is currently supervising 2 PhD and 2 Masters students. Dr Mwingira will undertake research on 'Impact of selective and timed schistosomiasis treatment strategies on prevalence, intensity and urinary morbidities among pre-and-school going children in north-western Tanzania' in collaboration with Professor Francisca Mutapi of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh. The proposed study combines both operational and interventions research aiming at mapping the prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium and its related urogenital morbidity, determine the appropriate timing for selective treatment based on transmission season and measure its impact on prevalence, intensity and urinary morbidities among pre-and-school children in north-western Tanzania. This work aims to generate evidence that after multiple rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) using praziquantel not all areas will require the same treatment schedule and to reduce cost, timed MDA based on transmission cycle will be an appropriate strategy in resources limited setting. Overall, the study will gather evidence on the best timing of MDA and contribute evidence for improving schistosomiasis treatment policies in endemic countries, which currently recommends uniform MDA in all areas despite decline in prevalence of the disease in some areas. Additionally, the study will include serological diagnostics of various co endemic infections among community members surrounding the study areas
  • Home institution supervisor: Dr Safari Methusela Kinung’hi
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Francisca Mutapi (School of Biological Sciences)
Dr Humphrey Mazigo is an infectious disease epidemiologist, interested in the epidemiology, immunoepidemiology, immunomorbidity and control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in sub-Saharan Africa. He is interested in the epidemiology, diagnosis, design, implementation and evaluation of interventions for prevention, control and potential elimination of helminthic neglected tropical diseases and how neglected tropical diseases immunologically interact with malaria and HIV-1 infection. He is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania. During his Out of Africa fellowship, his project will focus on understanding the ecology of Schistosoma haematobium following repeated round of mass drug administration over the past 10 years in Western Tanzania. Specifically, the project will focus in identifying hotspot areas for Schistosoma haematobium transmission and use the knowledge gained to design a treatment strategy based on timing treatment with respect to transmission season and evaluating the impact of transmission seasonal based treatment on prevalence, infection intensity, re-infection rates, urogenital morbidities and re-treatment cycles.
  • Home institution supervisor: Dr Safari Methusela Kinung’hi
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Francisca Mutapi (School of Biological Sciences)
Dr Albert Mugenyi is a Spatial Epidemiologist. Albert obtained a Bachelor of Science in Geography from Makerere University. Intrigued with the question of professional relevance in society, Albert took up a Master's course in GIS and remote sensing in the Netherlands. This award drove Albert to join the Uganda Trypanosomiasis Control Council (UTCC) in 2004 and rise through the ranks to GIS Expert responsible for disease surveillance, risk analysis and mapping. Working in a setting which is predominantly for disease surveillance and research, Albert, in 2010, was motivated to further his career. He embarked on a PhD (Spatial Epidemiology) course at the University of Edinburgh and completed in 2014. His current area of interest and research focus is on understanding vector-borne disease transmission systems. During this Out of Africa Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Albert will be working to accurately understand the spatial epidemiology of Trypanosomiasis transmission schema and prediction of risk using mixed regression space-time models. His research is on 'Model to strengthen disease information system for decision support using Ugandan tsetse, Animal and Human Trypanosomiasis data' and this will be in collaboration with Professor Sue Welburn within the Edinburgh Medical School, University of Edinburgh.
  • Home institution supervisor: Professor Charles Waiswa
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Sue Welburn (Global Health Academy)
Dr Farisai Mukorah holds a Bachelor's Honours in Biochemistry, Master's in Biotechnology and a Doctor of Philosophy in Science from the University of Zimbabwe. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Zimbabwe where she teaches biochemistry to medical, pharmacy, nursing science and biochemistry undergraduate students and biotechnology to master's students. She is also the current President of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Society of Zimbabwe (BMBSZ), a professional society whose target is to foster and maintain research links with scientists participating in biochemistry, molecular biology and related disciplines within Zimbabwe in particular and in African countries in general. She has research interests in biotechnology and has been involved in projects spanning biochemistry, immunology and molecular biology. As an undergraduate student, she developed immunochemical reagents to assay for diseases in elephants and rhinoceros that were destined for export markets. At postgraduate level, she perfected her skills in molecular biology, especially gene expression and control of regulatory pathways. Using site-directed mutagenesis, followed by expression of the mutants, she demonstrated that the specificity loop is not the sole determinant of sugar specificity in legume lectins. Farisai benefited from the African Academy of Sciences' workshops on cell biology and regenerative medicine and developed skills in basic handling of cell cultures and molecular biology techniques for cancer biology in Dr Anjali Shiras' laboratory at the National Centre for Cell Sciences in Pune, India. In addition, she was trained in keratinocyte, melanocyte and fibroblast culture techniques and methods; studying their behavior and growth patterns at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Currently, she is actively involved in a project whose goal is to contribute to the long-term health security of the African continent by developing point-of-care immunodiagnostic tools and vaccines for human diseases that are endemic to Zimbabwe, and have been neglected by bio-pharmaceutical companies to date. Her Out of Africa Fellowship in collaboration with Professor Francisca Mutapi of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, will explore an 'Understanding and Application of Bioinformatics, Molecular and Immunological Techniques in Disease Surveillance, Diagnosis and Control in Zimbabwe'.
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Francisca Mutapi (School of Biological Sciences)
Professor Takafira Mduluza is based in the Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe as Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology. He is a Biomedical Scientist specializing in the Biochemistry and Immunology of Infectious Diseases including parasitic infections. His work concentrates on the biochemistry and immunological consequences of infectious diseases in endemic populations and immuno-epidemiological studies of the relationship between defined immune responses and acquisition of clinically protective immunity. The aim is to characterize the effector mechanisms of both innate and acquired immunity to infecting agents such as parasites and co-infection with other agents, to understand how these mechanisms are induced and how they are regulated in order to promote parasite clearance without inducing immunopathology. He also conducts research oriented to the development and evaluation of anti-parasite vaccines. The challenge has been worsened with co-infections in the same individuals; the research goal is to understand in detail the long-term impact of preventive chemotherapy in populations recommended to receive several rounds of treatment. Infection of man and animals by large parasites is extremely common throughout the world. This is particularly true for blood fluke parasites. Infections can be debilitating with children suffering the worst disease. This is compounded with co-infections in same individuals and lack of environmental development on clean water and proper sanitation. There is also need to research on the intimate relationship between human host and the parasites. He is a recipient of the Research Council of Zimbabwe National Outstanding Research award on Monitoring and Maintaining Health Population. In collaboration with Professor Francisca Mutapi of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Professor Mduluza will apply a diagnostic chip for accurate and early diagnosis of diseases endemic in Zimbabwe (malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, typhoid fever, brucellosis) that are difficult to differentiate using current diagnostic tests. The chip will be developed and evaluated for early detection and measurement of exposure to emerging and re-emerging diseases with the possibility of a vaccine efficacy evaluation chip. These chips have been designed by the host lab in Edinburgh. The existing multiplex diagnostic tools developed for other diseases will be used to tailor-make a chip that is appropriate for use in Zimbabwe.
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Francisca Mutapi (School of Biological Sciences)
Professor Simbarashe Rusakaniko holds a chair at the University of Zimbabwe's College of Health Sciences. He is the chairperson of the Department of Community Medicine, the Deputy Director of Clinical Epidemiology Unit, the Deputy Director of Clinical Epidemiology Recourse Training Centre Department (CERTC). He is a Senior Professor in Biostatistics and Epidemiology in Community Medicine and a Research Fellow in the Obstetrics & Gynaecology Department at the University of Zimbabwe. He holds a DPhil in Adolescent Reproductive Health awarded by the University of Zimbabwe, and also holds an MSc in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, a Diploma in Epidemiology & Medical Statistics and BSC Honours in Mathematics (Statistics). He currently manages 7 research grants on: Behavioural Sero-Status Survey, ZDHS Extended Data analysis, Adolescent Reproductive Health in the SADC region, National Adolescent Reproductive Health in Zimbabwe, Assessment of TB Prevalence and Factors Associated with TB Among the Prison Population In Zimbabwe, Conducting a Health Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) in Zimbabwe and he leads TIBA Zimbabwe. He has worked on over 20 collaborative research projects and has published over 74 peer-reviewed articles. Professor Rusakaniko will undertake research on 'Handling and manipulation of bioinformatics from disease surveillance' in collaboration with Professor Mark Woolhouse of the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh. Today's world of research has moved from field-based to laboratory-based. Africa has been hit by many communicable diseases. To understand and profile all of these diseases, biological samples have been key in development of new approaches to research and understanding of disease profiling. With readily available biological samples, a computer-based approach is now central to biological research. Computing Science and Informatics bring together the tools needed to better understand the use of modern technology to better understand disease patterns. Thus, Bioinformatics is fundamentally in the application of computer-based approaches to the understanding of biological processes. The Out of Africa Fellowship will introduce Professor Rusakaniko to the current methods used to interpret the vast amounts of data generated by modern, high-throughput technologies such as genome sequencing, next-generation sequencing and microarray profiling. Furthermore, bioinformatics is well understood to be operating at the intersection of informatics and biology and is believed to have a strong mathematical component. It is against this background that today's technology has given scientists high-capacity analysis of genes and proteins, which make it necessary to integrate informatics when solving biological problems. It is hoped that the Out of Africa programme will equip Professor Rusakaniko with essential training skills in computing and statistics and give him valuable hands-on experience of modern bioinformatics research themes and methods that can be applied in local settings of Africa (Zimbabwe). This will further create strong synergies with Edinburgh that will see exchange of skills and data sharing.
  • University of Edinburgh supervisor: Professor Mark Woolhouse (Usher Institute)