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Building pathogen monitoring networks across Kenya - The Rockefeller Foundation

ILRI News

In a recent article, the Rockefeller Foundation highlighted senior International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) scientist Samuel Oyola's efforts to prevent and mitigate future pandemics through the establishment of surveillance and response teams in Kenya and the expansion of in-country genomic surveillance throughout East Africa. Reproduced here is an excerpt from the Rockefeller Foundation article.

Growing up in a farming household in Homa Bay, a rural town in western Kenya along Lake Victoria, Dr Samuel Oyola was often sick. So were his four older siblings and their parents. 'We called it malaria—but we called everything malaria if you had a fever,' he remembers with a laugh.

Diagnoses were frequently catch-alls in Homa Bay. Few doctors served the community, with access to even fewer diagnostic tools. So it might be natural that when Dr Oyola went to Egerton University in Njoro, he soon became interested in studying pathogens.

He studied next at the University of Brussels in Belgium, and then the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, where he earned his PhD in molecular and cellular biology. Eventually, he developed and applied genomic technologies to pinpoint genetic variations in—what else?—malaria parasite populations.

Now Dr Oyola, 44, a senior scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi and the only living member of his childhood family, has turned his skills and attention to Covid-19 and serving his community.

He leads a program supported by the Pandemic Prevention Institute and The Rockefeller Foundation to set up a comprehensive network of Surveillance and Response Teams in all 47 of Kenya’s counties, and support expansion of in-country genomic surveillance efforts throughout East Africa. The teams coordinate sample collection and transport to ILRI labs for near real-time genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 emerging variants.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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