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The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme is a partnership between the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Oxford. The Programme has grown from a small group to a facility hosting over 100 research scientists and 700 support staff working across Kenya, Uganda and the region.

Kenya lab

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Research Programme

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) - Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) was formally established in 1989 as a partnership between KEMRI (Kenya Medical Research Institute), Oxford University and Wellcome. We aim 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.

Several key principles run through our work:

  • to carry out research to the highest 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, from basic biology, clinical and operational research to social science
  • to have a direct input into local and international health policy.

The KWTRP includes three hubs, with the main hub in coastal Kilifi, an hour’s drive from Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa. The Kilifi hub is based in the main County Referral Hospital, serving over half a million residents and linking basic studies with molecular laboratories to clinical applications with local relevance.

In Nairobi, the KWTRP hub has strong links with the Ministry of Health, with a number of researchers actively providing advice to policy-makers. Work is carried out in multiple locations across Kenya in collaboration with a number of bilateral and national partners and academic institutions, including the University of Nairobi and Strathmore University. Nairobi also serves as a hub for work conducted in partnership with many countries in Africa and more recently in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean region.

The KWTRP is supporting the development of infrastructural capacity in Eastern Uganda in partnership with the Mbale and Soroti Regional Referral Hospitals. This work is focusing on malaria and its consequences in the region – direct morbidity and mortality and the indirect consequences of malaria including bacterial infection, malnutrition and genetic polymorphisms.

KWTRP hosts the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL), a training programme designed to develop young African scientists into world-class research leaders. IDeAL aims to keep scientists at African institutions through a defined programme of recruitment, supervision, mentorship, multidisciplinary approaches and clear career paths.

The KWTRP 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.

KWTRP Researchers

KWTRP Research Highlights

  • Variability in distribution and use of tuberculosis diagnostic tests in Kenya

    Posted 21/08/18. Globally, approximately 40-75% tuberculosis cases are missed, mostly due to under-reporting and under-diagnosis. Jacquie Oliwa and colleagues describe TB case notification rates, patterns of distribution and use of diagnostic tests as per Kenyan guidelines. There is an under-use of TB diagnostics tests, especially in children, which results in a notification rate eight times smaller than that of adults. New strategies are needed to increase the use of diagnostics, including innovations to improve access and overcome local barriers to the adoption of guidelines and technologies.

  • Effect of supplementary food on mortality in severely immunocompromised HIV-individuals initiating antiretroviral therapy

    Posted 12/06/2018. Among people with HIV infection who are starting antitretroviral treatment in Africa, both the amount of HIV virus in the body and the person's nutritional status are risk factors for dying. Professor Jay Berkley and colleagues found that giving a supplementary diet led to weight gain, but did not improve survival or illness. Malnutrition, rather than the severity of HIV, should guide the use of supplementary food.

  • Implementing an Open Source Electronic Health Record System in Kenyan Health Care Facilities

    Posted 22/05/2018. A new Case Study by Naomi Muinga from the Global Health Informatics Group reports on the challenges faced implementing an Open Source Electronic Health Record system in Kenya and the strategies employed by the Ministry of Health and development teams for increasing user adoption as the system is scaled up.

  • Access to emergency hospital in sub-Saharan Africa

    Posted 06/02/2018. Timely access to emergency care can substantially reduce mortality. Work undertaken in Professor Bob Snow’s group in Kenya, has developed the first ever geocoded inventory of public hospitals in Africa. Spatial analysis across 48 countries showed that 29% of people are located more than 2-h travel time from the nearest hospital. With substantial variations within and between countries, innovative targeting of emergency care services is necessary to reduce inequities.