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Director London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Visits Field Sites in Uganda

Prof. Liam Smeeth at the registration desk for study participants in Kyamulibwa, Uganda

Prof. Liam Smeeth has concluded a five-day inaugural visit to MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit as a newly appointed Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), interacting with the Unit staff who were curious how things may change. Accompanied by the Chief Operating officer of the LSHTM Dr. Matt Lee, and the Director of the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, he visited Kyamulibwa and Masaka field stations where various research projects and clinical trials are conducted.

While in Kyamuliibwa, Prof. Smeeth held an interactive session with Principal investigators (P.Is) of General Population Cohort (GPC) studies who shared a round-up of the on-going and completed surveys such as the Well-Being of Older People Study (WOPS). During the session, Dr. Joseph Mugisha the head of the GPC, revealed that the WOPS findings were benchmarked to develop recommendations for policy and practice to improve the wellbeing of older people affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS. Prof. Smeeth applauded the team for such studies that contribute to the overall goal of building the next generation of African scientists.

“I am glad that the Unit has contributed to HIV prevention and knowledge generation. It’s great to see all these studies that are contributing to global efforts to improve health within the country and the region.” Prof. Smeeth added.

Prof. Smeeth then toured the GPC outpatient clinic where over 70 patients from 25 villages in Kyamulibwa receive free clinical services on a daily basis. The visit in Kyamuliibwa ended with a tour in the study communities where field coordinators and frontline workers obtain data samples from participants.

Later, he visited Masaka Field Station that initially started as a Centre for vaccine trials but has since expanded to engage several rural communities. Dr. Freddie Mukasa Kibengo, the Station Manager, while in an interactive session showcased the on-going clinical trials at the station.

“We have a number of clinical trials currently running at the site including; HIV Vaccine Trial PrEPVacc, COVID19 Vaccine trial COVAC, Infant Vaccine trial OPTIMMS among others.” Dr. Kibengo added.

according to Prof. Smeeth, the interactive sessions during the visit had given him sight of the success stories of the Unit. 

“I am grateful to the entire research team at the Unit and the field station for their ability to integrate research into communities and hospitals. This mutual benefit is what emphasises the relevance of medical research.” Prof. Smeeth said

At the head office in Entebbe, Prof. Smeeth visited the sequencing laboratory and the Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory Services (CDLS) where various clinical vaccine investigations for epidemics such as Ebola, Marburg, COVID-19, HIV among other infectious diseases are conducted. Prof. Smeeth also participated in the official launch of a state-of-the-art Clinical Research Facility in Entebbe on May 5, 2022 constructed to support the successful conduct of clinical studies. The commissioned facility will also support the expanding research studies that require additional consultations and clinical service.

The inaugural visit by Prof. Smeeth as the new Director LSHTM was an opportunity to interact with staff at all levels including Unit heads of programmes, project heads as well as frontline staff. The visit offered an opportune time to listen to staff and know their expectations. In addition to informing the new director about how things actually work in the Unit and its field stations, the visit also provided an understanding of what is going on in the different sections of the Unit.

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