A Kenyan medical professor is among 11 individuals that bagged funding from the USA’s National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In a statement on Thursday, August 27, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is one of the institutes under NIH, gave Virology Professor Kariuki Njenga the money to set up a Center for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases – East and Central Africa (CREID-ECA).
The center will be expected to carry out researche on viruses including Covid-19, the Rift Valley Fever among many others.
Kariuki was among 11 others that were awarded grants by NIAID with the aim of establishing the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID).
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic serves as a potent reminder of the devastation that can be wrought when a new virus infects humans for the first time.
“The CREID network will enable early warnings of emerging diseases wherever they occur, which will be critical to rapid responses. The knowledge gained through this research will increase our preparedness for future outbreaks,” stated NIAID Director Anthony Fauci.
Currently, Njenga works as a researcher at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
“Each Center will focus efforts on one or more regions of the world. In Central and South America, for example, studies will include investigations of several arthropod-borne viruses (“arboviruses”) including the ones that cause Zika virus disease, chikungunya and dengue.
“In East and Central Africa, focus pathogens will include Rift Valley fever virus and the Coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” reads the statement in part.
Kariuki, who doubles up as a professor at Washington State University in USA, was among pioneers who developed a system that reduced prevalence of Rift Valley Fever.
The disease has been confirmed to kill both human beings and animals.
In 2000s, Njenga served as the head of Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In 2019, he was inducted into the world’s most elite science body, the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.
Njenga won the grant alongside Peter Daszak from EcoHealth Alliance in New York, Anavaj Sakuntabhai from Institut Pasteur in Paris France and Nikos Vasilakis from University of Texas Medical Branch.
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