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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

Serum procalcitonin levels in children with clinical syndromes for targeting antibiotic use at an emergency department of a Kenyan hospital

Posted 28/06/2019. Children with severe disease seen at an outpatient department of Kenyan hospital often have elevated procalcitonin, a biomarker for bacterial infection. Samuel Akech and colleagues show that it’s still premature to recommend the use of procalcitonin to guide antibiotic administration unless clinical trials investigating the use of procalcitonin levels to guide antibiotic treatment are done.

Managing health research capacity strengthening consortia

Posted 25/06/2019. As investments in health research capacity strengthening (HRCS) consortia increase, it is essential to consider the role of management approaches used. Nadia Tagoe and colleagues present current evidence and discourse on HRCS consortium management, and show that it is critical to pay attention to both relational and operational aspects of consortia to achieve desired outcomes.

Prevalence, intensity and risk factors of tungiasis in Kilifi County, Kenya II: Results from a school-based observational study

Posted 21/06/2019: Neglected tropical skin disease caused by sand fleas (tungiasis) inflicts misery on millions of children across the Tropics. Lynne Elson and colleagues show that tungiasis could be controlled through strengthening hygiene practices and sealing house and school floor

Missed nursing care in newborn units: a cross-sectional direct observational study

Posted 14/06/2019. Insufficient nurses caring for sick babies on hospitals’ neonatal units in Kenya seriously undermine efforts to deliver high quality, safe care and make reducing neonatal mortality rates very difficult. Led by David Gathara, the Kenyan and Oxford team conducted the first ever direct observational study of which tasks nurses were able to perform and quantified how much care is missed. Previous work on missed nursing care largely conducted in rich countries has relied on questionnaires so this new work is an important advance.