Building Sustainable Research Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa to Detect Emerging Infectious Diseases

UGHE Virtual Grand Rounds


Building sustainable research capacity has been recognized as a leading strategy to overcome health disparities worldwide. It supports the development of innovative approaches and technologies to detect emerging infectious diseases and therefore improves the quality of global health care. The Sustainable Development Goals make tackling infectious diseases central to their plan, but currently, there is a serious deficit of trained researchers in some sub-Saharan African countries to help deliver this. This deficit, coupled with the lack of resources such as laboratories widens the health system gap to respond to the increasing threat of new and emerging infectious diseases in this region. 


A panel of experts from 5 countries will set out to explore the challenges faced by lack of research capacity around infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, a deficit that is ultimately threatening the health of millions of people living in this region. The panel will aim to offer ideas for opportunities and innovations in this field – including training the next generation of equitable researchers and infectious disease specialists through post-graduate degree programs, and increased investment in facilities such as laboratories to further critical research around novel infectious diseases. The discussion will explore the important role external funders can play in financing research capacity strengthening activities in SSA, as well as supporting individual researchers to develop contextually relevant solutions and advance national health priorities in this field.

Date: Monday, July 27th
Time: 5PM CAT/11AM EST



Dr. Robert Ojiambo — Chair of the Division of Basic Sciences, University of Global Health Equity

Dr. Robert Ojiambo is the Chair of the Division of Basic Sciences at UGHE. He is part of the team involved in the implementation of the innovative medical education curriculum with other colleagues at UGHE. Previously, Dr. Ojiambo was involved in the training of thousands of medical doctors in Kenya for close to 20 years. Most recently, he was the head of physiology as well as a senior lecturer at the School of Medicine, Moi University, Kenya. He has over 30 publications in the broad area of lifestyle physiology and health. Dr. Ojiambo holds a PhD in integrated biology from the University of Glasgow, UK. His research interests are centered around the impact of lifestyle factors such as: diet, physical activity, sedentary behavior and pollution on physiological functions and health in populations, especially in women and children. Dr. Ojiambo is keen on multidisciplinary collaborative research that addresses emerging health issues associated with the changing lifestyles in African populations and innovative approaches to mitigate the ravages of unhealthy lifestyles in populations.

Featured speakers: 

Dr. Simon Kay — Head of International Operations, Wellcome Trust 

Dr Simon Kay describes his career as a book in four parts. In the first part he studied for a PhD in Cancer Immunology.  He then moved to the British Council where he worked for 26 years around the world with postings in the UK, Singapore, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Sudan, Russia and Israel. As Head of International Operations Simon now leads Wellcome’s efforts to build biomedical and health research capacity in Africa and India. His teams at Wellcome work closely with the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and with the Wellcome Trust/Department of Biotechnology (DBT) India Alliance.  His team also provides governance and operational support to Wellcome’s major programmes in Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. Through this work he has built up expertise in charitable and not for profit international governance arrangements and in capacity building in Lower and Middle Income Countries. In his latest chapter, not yet completed, he is studying for a Masters in Coaching and Behavioural Change at the Henley Business School and hopes to be able to use this expertise to think more deeply about how research and innovation capacity is built in researchers.  Simon is a Governor at Ardingly College in West Sussex, a Trustee of the Malaria Consortium, a Director of the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) in South Africa (research into HIV/TB), a Director of the Africa Research Consortium for Health (ARCH) in Kenya and a member of the Partners’ Group which provides governance oversight to AESA.

Dr. Yimtubezinash Woldeamanuel Mulate — Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, & Parasitology, Addis Ababa University

Dr. Yimtubezinash Woldeamanuel Mulate is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of the Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology at the Addis Ababa University (AAU) School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences. She is a consultant Medical Specialist (Medical Microbiologist) and has 20 years of experience in teaching, research and mentoring. She has supervised/ mentored more than 90 graduate students in MSc and PhD programs at Addis Ababa University. She has a diverse background in infectious disease research, mainly focusing on the diagnosis of infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, including tuberculosis and has more than 60 publications. Outside of her work as a research and educator, she has been dedicated to enhancing research infrastructure at AAU through research ethics training. She has served as Executive Board member of PABIN and coordinator for the PABIN/SIDCER Ethics Committee recognition program and have led Ethics Committee performance assessment surveys in some countries across Africa. She serves in various committees, Advisory Boards (National and International) and was Head of Department for two terms and four years as Chair of the Institutional Review Board of College of Health Sciences. Currently, she serves as Co-Chair of the IRB of the College of Health Sciences at AAU, including the research ethics committee at the Armauer Hansen Research Institute. She is involved in several international collaborative researches, among which is the CDT-Africa (center of excellence) and currently is Lead of the incubation hub of the center. She is a fellow and Executive Board member of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Patrick Orikiriza — Assistant Professor, Head of Microbiology, University of Global Health Equity

Dr. Patrick Orikiriza’s field of expertise is microbiology with a special focus on infectious diseases. He is passionate about innovative pedagogical approaches to medical education and is keen at interrogating new mechanisms exhibited by current and emerging infectious disease pathogens. He holds a position as an assistant professor and Head of the Microbiology Department in the division of Basic Medical Sciences at UGHE. In this role, he is responsible for curriculum development, training, and supervision of undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. students, setting a research agenda and fund acquisition to advance a global and equitable agenda. He completed a BSc from Makerere University, Uganda and MSc in Microbiology at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda. He later completed a Ph.D. in Health Biology at the University of Montpellier in France. His Ph.D. focus was on improving pediatric Tuberculosis diagnosis in limited-resource settings. Dr. Orikiriza has practiced and taught Microbiology for more than 10 years. He previously worked with Uganda Virus Research Institute, Joint Clinical Research Centre, Case Western Reserve University Collaboration and Makerere University Department of Microbiology. In his most recent appointment, before joining UGHE, Patrick worked for 10 years as a microbiologist and head of TB research laboratory for Epicentre, a research arm of Médecins Sans Frontières. He supervised research activities in a Biosafety Level three facility, managed staff, and was part of a number of multinational studies involving cutting-edge research on Tuberculosis, Malaria, Brucellosis, and drug resistance where he published over 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He was also a lecturer in the department of microbiology at Mbarara University of Science and Technology where he trained, supervised, and mentored medical students.

Prof. Gertrude Kiwanuka — Associate Professor and Dean of Faculty of Medicine at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) 

She has been involved in teaching and research for more than 20 years. Prof. Gertrude has also served as vice chairperson of MUST Institutional Research Board (IRB) for almost 10 years. In addition, she also serves as a mentor in the PhD mentoring program of Karoliska Institute in Sweden and MUST.

Prof. Gertrude holds a PhD in Biochemistry from MUST. Her research interests revolve around a wide range of topics including; molecular studies and mechanisms of pathogenesis of infectious diseases, particularly malaria and HIV, to molecular mechanisms of non-communicable diseases: cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. She likes employing a combination of field-based research with laboratory-based studies. Her previous and current research has focused on the molecular biology of malaria parasites to study the diversity of the parasites, its contribution to epidemiology and the pathogenesis of anaemia. She is interested in studying the interaction of the biology of malaria parasites and the host’s immune system. She has also had interest in the interaction of malaria and HIV; studies on molecular mechanisms of oncogenesis, altered gene expression in cancer with a goal of identifying therapeutic agents to halt proliferation of cells; as well as studies on genetic determinants of obesity and metabolic diseases.

Prof. Timothy Carey — Director, Institute of Global Health Equity Research, Andrew Weiss Chair of Research in Global Health, University of Global Health Equity

Professor Timothy Carey is a scientist-practitioner who is a researcher, teacher, trainer, and clinician. He has worked as a clinical psychologist in rural and underserved communities in both Scotland and remote Australia. Tim has a PhD in Clinical Psychology, an MSc in Statistics, and a PostGraduate Certificate in Biostatistics as well as tertiary qualifications in teaching. His most recent academic roles have been Professor and Director of Flinders University’s Centre for Remote Health and Charles Darwin University’s Professor of Clinical Psychology in Health Equity in Alice Springs, Australia. Tim has served on national grant funding bodies as well as university Human Research Ethics Committees (the Australian equivalent of Institutional Review Boards) and teaches research methods at a postgraduate level. He has also secured research income as a Chief Investigator on competitively funded research projects. Tim is experienced in quantitative and qualitative methods as well as systematic reviews and enjoys using different research methods to answer novel, important, and difficult questions in order to improve health services and health service delivery. A central focus of his work is the importance of control to health and wellbeing and recognition of internal conflict as a transdiagnostic explanation of psychological distress. He is also very interested in different cultural explanations of psychological distress and the importance of control cross-culturally. He has pioneered clinical innovations such as patient-led appointment scheduling and patient-perspective care. He has developed an efficient and effective cognitive therapy called the Method of Levels ( as well as a smartphone app called MindSurf. While working in the National Health Service in Scotland Tim led a program of practice-based research that resulted in a reduction in the waiting time to access psychological services from 15 months to less than 2 weeks using the patient-led model of appointment scheduling he had developed. He is a Fulbright Scholar who has over 150 publications including books, book chapters, and peer-reviewed publications. He also has a blog on Psychology Today called In Control where he writes about general topics related to successful and contented day to day living. He is currently working on a book explaining the application of a theory of control to understanding health and social inequity.