Executive Director KWTRP

Research groups:


I first came to Kenya in 2002 to conduct Phase I and IIb clinical trials of a candidate malaria vaccine based on viral vectors, working between the Jenner at University of Oxford and KEMRI-Wellcome. I returned to Oxford in 2006 to complete specialist clinical training as a clinical lecturer, and was appointed as a senior fellow in the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre in 2009. I remained active in malaria research during these posts, leading further trials of GSK’s candidate malaria vaccine “RTS,S”, and as a member of the Malaria Vectored Vaccine Consortium funded to test viral vectored malaria vaccines in several sites in Africa including Kenya. I was awarded an MRC Clinician-Scientist Fellowship in 2013 which allowed me to return to be resident full-time in Kenya again in 2013, working on malaria epidemiology.

I became Executive Director of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in September 2014. I enjoy opportunities to be involved in community engagement activities and fieldwork, and continue to be involved in patient care and clinical research where I can. I introduced real-time data entry with a field team during my PhD, and the Programme relies increasingly on direct electronic data entry. I have expertise in designing and leading clinical trials, field surveillance, laboratory science and statistical and modelling analyses, and also enjoy collaborating with colleagues in entomology and social sciences.


Current work on malaria vaccines includes human malaria challenge models to study acquired host immunity to blood stage parasites in the aim of better defining natural immunity and correlates of natural immunity to guide vaccine development. This work is run by a large team. Work on challenge is overseen by Melissa Kapulu, clinical supervision by Mainga Hamaluba, and immunology work by Faith Osier, Francis Ndung’u, Abdirahman Abdi, Sam Kinyanjui and Cheryl Andisi (Pwani University). We work closely with partners in Sanaria on the challenge. We are testing the Jenner (Oxford) and Serum Institute of India R21 vaccine (an RTS,S biosimilar), and also working with CDC-KEMRI and WRAIR-KEMRI on developing implementation trials of RTS,S.

With Derrick Kimathi, Mainga Hamaluba and George Warimwe I work on Yellow Fever Vaccine trials, specifically on the non-inferiority of fractional doses of Yellow Fever Vaccine in order to facilitate vaccine supply. We collaborate with Epicentre MSF, UVRI and IP Dakar. I also work with Dominic Kwiatkowski and Irene Omedo on falciparum malaria genomics to examine the transmission steps observed in the field, to inform future malaria control strategies, and to track genomic changes in the parasite over 20 years in Kilifi County, Kenya.

I work with Bob Snow and Alice Kamau on the epidemiology of malaria, examining estimates of the disease burden and of the infectious burden in Kilifi County and more widely across Africa.