Tropical and Infectious Diseases Profile


Research in the department began to expand in the 1970s which lead to the construction of the labs which commenced in 1983 together with Labs and animal facilities and was completed through funding from the Government of the Netherlands.
Infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic micro-organisms such as parasites, viruses that account for severe mortality and morbidity in developing countries. Against a constant background of established infections, epidemics of emerging/re-emerging diseases periodically appear and these greatly magnify the global burden of infections. The department of Tropical and Infectious Diseases focuses on understanding the biology, immunology, ecological aspects of viral and protozoan diseases that afflict developing countries. As a department, we research a number of pathogenic micro-organisms such as parasites. These include the malaria parasites (Plasmodium spp.), P. knowlesi a fifth human malaria parasite that also infects non-human primates, rodent malaria (P. berghei, P. yoelii), Trypanosomiasis and Leishmania donovani. 


 Studies on viruses include the study of naturally occurring simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), experimental SHIV/HIV infections. For all these diseases we have established primate/rodent models. Studies that explore the role of wild populations of non-human primates (NHPs) in the spread of emerging/re-emerging diseases is a new area of research within the department.
The department’s wide research activities allows scientists to explore various scientific investigations with the aim to discover new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines.






Name: Dr. Lucy Ochola
Title: Senior Research Scientist I & Head of Department
Area of Expertise: Malaria, co-infections and infection biology

Tropical and Infectious Diseases



Dr. Hastings Ozwara
Chief Research Scientist

Qualifications: BSc, MSc (Nairobi, Kenya), PhD (Leiden, The Netherlands)

Resource mobilization for research: Mobilised over $8,000,000 for research over a period of 22 years

Research interests: Natural Products; Baboon model for research on malaria and other infectious diseases; Transfection (genetic modification) of malaria parasites; Drug development; Immunology of infectious diseases; Biobanking

Dr. Faith Onditi
Senior Research scientist II

Qualifications: PhD in Biochemistry (University of Nairobi), MSc. Molecular Medicine (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology), BSc. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology)

Research Interests: I am interested in conducting translational research on malaria during pregnancy using the Baboon (Papio anubis)-Plasmodium knowlesi placental malaria model that we developed in our laboratory. This model's key areas of application include: Drug repurposing,  Drug development and testing, Vaccine research and development, Development of diagnostic tools, Synthetic Biology

Dr. Peris Auma Ambala
Research scientist

Qualifications: PhD in Medical Virology from Kenyatta University, MSc. Infectious in Diseases (Virology) from Kenyatta University, BSc. Biomedical Sciences from The University of Nairobi

Research Interests: My current research interests are on the molecular basis of genetic variations of viruses including emerging and re-emerging viruses, with an aim of applying this information in the development of more effective antivirals and viral vaccines. These viruses include flaviviruses, filoviruses and retroviruses. In addition, I am interested in the discovery of potentially zoonotic viruses, which will act as an early warning to a looming outbreak/spillover to humans.

Dr. Paul Ogongo
Research scientist

Qualifications: Academic qualifications: BSc Zoology - UoN; MSc Molecular Medicine - JKUAT; PhD Medical Microbiology - UKZN, South Africa; Postdoctoral Scholar - UCSF, USA.

Area of Expertise: T cell Immunology, Tuberculosis, Schistosomiasis, Parasitology, Flow Cytometry.

Ruth Nyakundi
Research scientist

Qualifications: (PhD Ongoing- Chronic helminth-malaria co-infections and their role in disease burden acquired
and foetal immunity to malaria infection)

Dawn Maranga
Research scientist

Research Interests: Trypanosomiasis

Esther Kagasi
Research scientist

Qualifications: Degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences, Masters Degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences (Hematology option)

Research Interests: My research interest is in Hematology, immunology, parasitology and other medical laboratory Sciences in Tropical and Infectious Diseases .e.g Malaria and co infections of these diseases ,Natural products and re emerging diseases.

Elephas Munene
Research scientist

Research Interests: Virology

Yvonne Kimata
Research Scientist

Qualifications: Master of Science degree in Medical Virology - Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science –Jomo Kenyatta, University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)

Research Interests: Arboviruses and Zoonotic viruses

Martin Omondi
Research Scientist

Research interests: Malaria, Schistosomiasis, Emerging Infectious Diseases

Martin is a biochemist and a molecular biologist currently working as a research scientist within the parasite immunology research group at the Institute of Primate Research (IPR), which he joined in 2019. He is also pursuing his PhD.

Tropical and Infectious Diseases



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