UoN Partners with US University in Ksh100 Million Deal

Towers at the University of Nairobi
An image of the University of Nairobi Main Campus.

The University of Nairobi (UoN) has partnered with the Washington State University (WSU) in a bid to strengthen research and study on infectious diseases such as the Rift Valley fever and Covid-19.

These diseases, medically termed as zoonotic diseases, are transmitted from animals to humans. They have devastated populations all around the world, having far worse effects on humans than animals.

The two research institutions hope to improve the quality of research of the diseases and stop them from becoming pandemics.

A Moderna scientist works in the company's lab.
A Moderna scientist works in the company's lab.

The WSU was awarded nearly Ksh100 million to fund the interdisciplinary doctoral training program which will be in partnership with UoN's College of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

The program seeks to identify emerging viruses such as coronaviruses, influenza viruses, Rift valley fever, and the current unknown causes of acute febrile disease and respiratory illnesses.

The PhD program brought together 10 doctors from the veterinary and clinical medicine fields. Also part of the program is a two-year course program for up to 10 ministerial or government personnel.

The two-year course strictly accommodates people who already work for the Ministry of Health, or Veterinary Services and will facilitate them with additional expertise in coping with the research.

Leading WSU Covid-19 response effort in Kenya, Kariuki Njenga, who is also working with the Ministry of Health, stated that the program aims at addressing education gaps in the country. 

“The highest priority to strengthening capacity is integrated post-graduate training for clinically-trained individuals through laboratory and field epidemiologic research. Medical and veterinary education in Kenya is highly clinically focused, this program complements that clinical expertise,” Njenga said during the launch of the program.

UoN Professor Walter Jaoko said that diseases can break into one part of the world and quickly carried over to various parts of the world. 

"When Covid-19 started, it looked like a Chinese problem, it was in just one part of China. Now we can see the devastation it has caused in various parts of the world. So the idea behind this is to encourage more collaborative research," he said.

UoN graduates during a graduation ceremony at the institution in July 2019.
UoN graduates during a graduation ceremony at the institution in July 2019.