Top wins for research scientists on the THRiVE-2 Grant

For the past five years, THRiVE has empowered African institutions to develop their infrastructure and their scientific staff capacity to lead world-class research programmes; offered young researchers (post-graduate and post-doctoral fellows) the opportunity to be mentored by committed teams of scientific advisers, and enhanced research governance and management by strengthening institutional systems like ethical review boards. In June this year, the program which started in 2009 will come to an end. Along the way, it (THRiVE) has grown and evolved reaching several milestones and creating networks along the way. In this issue of the newsletter, we bring you our fellows and mentors that have been honored with grants and awards during the THRiVE-2 grant period (2016-2022).

Prof. Baldwyn Torto of icipe won the 2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Prize (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Prof. Baldwyn Torto was awarded the ‘Agropolis Louis Malassis International Prize’

Prof. Baldwyn Torto, Principal Scientist, and Head, Behavioural and Chemical Ecology (BCEU), at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya, was awarded the 2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Prize for Food and Agriculture, under the Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development category.

This award is specifically conferred to remarkable professionals in the field of agriculture and food research, innovation, capacity building, development, or policy. Prof. Torto continues to be instrumental in the training of the next generation of African scientists as a member of the THRiVE-1 Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Committee as well as the THRiVE-2 faculty.

David Meya named world expert in Cryptococcosis

Assoc. Prof David Meya is a world expert in Cryptococcosis

Assoc. Prof David Meya, a THRiVE post-doctoral fellow, was in September 2020 recognized as a world expert in Cryptococcosis by Expertscape, a website that identifies and objectively ranks medical expertise. He was placed in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about Cryptococcosis over the past 10 years by Expertscape’s PubMed-based algorithms, a level they label as “World Expert.” Additionally, Meya was selected as a fellow for the prestigious Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP). The programme grows mid-career African academics in the areas of thought leadership, team management and research development and enables them to contribute to the development of a new paradigm for science in African, focused on its contribution to solving the complex issues facing both Africa and the global community.

Dr Gerald Mboowa wins the 2020 Anglophone Young Investigators Award

Dr. Gerald Mboowa

Dr. Mboowa, an Implementation Science Expert for Bioinformatics at the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) was awarded the 2020 Anglophone Young Investigators Prize. He received €10,000 (approximately UGX 44.5M) by the Mali-based African Association for research and control of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AAAMR) in recognition of his innovation, the Rapid Microbial Analysis Pipeline (rMAP). rMAP is an automated bioinformatics tool for analyzing, interpreting, and tracking antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It is able to exhaustively decode bacterial resistance with minimal hands involvement.

rMAP is available on GitHub, an online hosting platform for bioinformatics software development. It is envisioned that the application of this tool for real-time detection of drug-resistant pathogens is essential to combat their (resistant pathogens) increasing threat.

Dr Emmy Okello honored with Cardiology award

Dr. Emmy Okello is a consultant cardiologist and senior researcher at Uganda Heart Institute.

In March 2018, Dr. Emmy Okello, an Interventional Cardiologist at the Uganda Heart Institute was honored with a Fellowship of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) during a convocation at the 68th annual convention of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans, USA. The FACC is the highest level of recognition in the field of cardiovascular medicine and recognizes years of training and dedicated service and research in cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Okello, a THRiVE-2 postdoctoral fellow has spearheaded interventional cardiology practice in Uganda and uniquely led the introduction of balloon mitral valvoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that allows treatment of rheumatic heart disease patients with narrowed heart valves without having to undergo open-heart surgery.

Assoc. Prof. Kakooza fellow wins NIH grant for epilepsy research

Assoc. Prof. Agelina Kakooza, THRiVE-2 Postdoctoral Fellow

Before the end of 2021, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $2.5 million grant to Assoc. Prof. Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige to clinically characterize a Ugandan national sample of patients with epilepsy, investigate the magnitude and drivers of epilepsy stigma among adolescents and evaluate the effects of a community-based engagement program on reducing this stigma in the community (AWE Change project). This five-year project will be done in collaboration with colleagues from Duke University’s Division of Global Neurosurgery and Neurology, Durham, USA.

Dr. Joel Bargul’s Community Engagement Project lands him on the school management board

Throughout his postdoctoral research, Dr. Bargul and his colleagues at icipe have profiled camel diseases circulating in northern Kenya as a basis to guide in designing appropriate disease control measures to be adopted by farmers in Laisamis, Marsabit. During the course of his studies, he involved students of Laisamis Secondary School (LSS) in research in order to spur them to develop scientific innovations. As a result of his work, Dr. Bargul was selected as a member of the School Board of Management and will hold this position for three years. In an earlier interview with THRiVE, Dr. Bargul said that this position will provide him with a unique chance to offer leadership support to advance the school’s goals, especially encouraging careers in the sciences.

Dr. Wampande secures a grant to establish a specialized laboratory for zoonotic diseases

Dr. Edward Wampande outside the new Centre for Bio security and Global Health (CEBIGHE) laboratory

Dr. Edward Wampande outside the new Centre for Bio security and Global Health (CEBIGHE) laboratory

Dr. Edward Wampande, a THRiVE-2 postdoctoral fellow, won a UGX 1B grant from Uganda’s government in 2020 to establish the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health (CEBIGHE) laboratory that will facilitate research of zoonotic diseases. The grant spans two years. Currently, researchers are using the lap to manipulate zoonotic pathogens and perform experiments on small lab animals such as mice, rats, rabbits, and non-human primates for validation/testing of potential vaccine, therapeutics and diagnostics candidates.

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