Kenya and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme is well known internationally for its work tackling malaria and other infectious diseases, particularly bacterial and viral childhood infections. With links to the Trust since the 1940s, the Programme was formally established in 1989, in partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). It conducts basic 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 and create a critical mass of support from trained research and non-research staff. The Programme employs over 600 people, 95 per cent of whom are Kenyan. Of the 100 scientists in the Programme, 75 are East African. A £9 million Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust is helping to train local researchers in areas such as translational research, social science and clinical trials.
The Programme plays a key role in a number of regional initiatives, such as the Network for Surveillance of Pneumococcal Disease in the East African Region (netSPEAR). It also has increasing links with researchers and institutions around the region, with research projects based in neighbouring countries such as Somalia and Uganda. For example, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the Programme is supporting studies in a large cohort of people with sickle-cell disease to define the natural history of the disease and to improve treatment and management.