Several key principles run through the work of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP): to carry out research to the highest international scientific and ethical standards on major causes of morbidity and mortality in Africa; to build strong and sustainable internationally competitive, national and regional research capacity; to work in a way that facilitates integration and cross fertilisation of scientific disciplines; to conduct intervention research and basic research in parallel and to have a direct input to local and international health policy.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) was established in 1979 under the Science and Technology (Amendment) Act of that year to represent the national body responsible for carrying out health science research in Kenya.
Prior to the establishment of KEMRI, health research in Kenya was conducted under the auspices of the East African Medical Research Council which had been established in 1957 to serve the countries of the East African Community. Following the break-up of the East African Community in 1977, the Kenyan Parliament passed the Science and Technology Act in 1977 and amended it in 1979 to provide for the establishment of research institutes.
KEMRI - Wellcome Trust was formally established in 1989 as a partnership between KEMRI, Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust. It conducts basic, epidemiological and clinical research in parallel, with results feeding directly into local and international health policy, and aims to expand the country's capacity to conduct multidisciplinary research that is strong, sustainable and internationally competitive. Strong community links are at the heart of the Programme, with an emphasis on capacity building and training to build scientific leadership.
The Programme has two main bases in Kenya but works in many other parts of the country and is increasingly involved in regional collaborations to support research in neighbouring countries.
The main centre in coastal Kilifi, an hour's drive from Kenya's second largest city, Mombasa, is based in a busy district hospital, serving over half a million people and linking basic studies to clinical applications with local relevance.
In Nairobi, a unit is based at the capital's Kenyatta Hospital and has strong links with the Ministry of Health, facilitating the translation of research findings into health policy. Work is carried out in collaboration with other centres of KEMRI and Ministries of Health and education in many other districts. Other collaborative studies are taking place in Uganda, Sudan and Somalia.
The KEMRI Wellcome Trust Programme is committed to capacity strengthening within Kenya and the East African region. Research priorities in Kenya need to be established by Kenya's own scientific research infrastructure, driven by the specifics of its healthcare needs and medical realities.
The Programme is acting as a centre of excellence where promising African researchers can work within a strong scientific environment, forging their own links with the international scientific community. Through collaborations and partnerships within the East African region the programme seeks to support the development of a stronger regional research base.
From 1989 - 2008 we trained 28 PhDs, since 2008 we have been graduating an average of 5 PhDs per year. In the same period we have supported over 70 Masters trainings in addition to providing over 100 diploma level trainings for Continuing Professional Development of the technical staff.