Maximizing Vaccine Effectiveness: NIHR Funded Project Builds Knowledge-base on Factors Influencing Vaccine Impact among Communities in Kenya and Uganda


Entebbe, Kilifi, November 28, 2022 The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Group on Vaccines for vulnerable people in Africa (VAnguard) project was launched at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), Entebbe and KEMRI|Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kilifi.

Funded by the NIHR, VAnguard aims to strengthen collaborations between national and international stakeholders in the identification of social and biological factors that impair vaccine impact in African communities, to develop integrated strategies and recommendations to optimise vaccine impact, and to contribute to health equity in Africa.

The project consortium is comprised of local and international partners in vaccine research including UVRI, Makerere University, Uganda Christian University, KEMRI|Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Oxford University, Cambridge University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

A collaborative research approach

VAnguard is a community-focused programme that fosters a sustainable, collaborative culture in research and facilitates sustainable pathways to research impact in Africa. By linking vaccine researchers in Uganda and Kenya with counterparts in the UK, the partnership enhances mutual engagements with national stakeholders, such as Ministries of Health and Non-Governmental entities, in the process of identifying and addressing affected communities throughout the implementation process. Its cooperative processes ensure that suitable and acceptable study methods, as well as relevant recommendations, are developed by multidisciplinary research teams for both local and global application.  

Building Vaccine Research Capacity in Africa

The partnership will also create sustainable avenues for capacity building of early and mid-career vaccine researchers in Africa, where a critical mass is urgently needed. PhD and post-doc trainees in biological and social science and community engagement disciplines will be supported to investigate the causes of unsatisfactory health benefits from vaccination programmes in selected communities across Kenya and Uganda.

 “Africa needs an urgent critical mass of vaccine researchers, UVRI is eager and committed to contribute to this effort through national and international collaborations.”

Professor Pontiano Kaleebu,

Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute and Co-Principal Investigator on the VAnguard project

“Vaccines are among the most successful tools we have to promote public health.  We want to ensure that African populations benefit from them to the full.

Professor Alison Elliott

Professor of Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Co-Principal Investigator on the VAnguard project

For further information, please contact:


The Uganda Virus Research Institute is a Uganda Government Research Center, which engages in health research pertaining to human infections and disease processes associated with or linked to viral aetiology and provides expert advice, enables partnerships and communication and serves as a center for training and education.

Its mission is to conduct scientific investigations on viral and other communicable diseases so as to contribute to knowledge, policy, practice and build capacity while promoting institutional sustainability.


The Unit is an internationally recognized centre of excellence for research and training. Established in 1988 following a request from the Uganda Government to the United Kingdom (UK) Government, our mission is to conduct high-quality research that adds knowledge and leads to improved control of infectious and non-communicable diseases in Uganda, Africa and globally, through translation of scientific findings into policy and practice, and rigorous research capacity building. Over 100 scientists across our three top-notch research facilities in central and south western Uganda deliver research projects of the highest quality, ranging from basic science and epidemiology, to rigorous clinical trials for the prevention and management of diseases of public health importance in Africa. In the last five years, we have trained 58 Master’s and 44 PhD students, many from Uganda, but also from other African countries and the UK. Our research and capacity building success are in part because we have been able to attract strategic collaborations in the UK and other countries.


The KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme is a world-renowned health research unit of excellence. The programme was formed in 1989 when the Kenya Medical Research Institute formed a partnership with the Wellcome Trust and the University of Oxford. The Programme has over the last 26 years grown from a small group of 12 to a state of the art facility hosting over 100 research scientists and 700 support staff working across Kenya, Uganda and the region. We have over the years excelled in use of novel ideas working with local communities to achieve better health for Africa while also developing African scientific leaders.


The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is renowned for its research, postgraduate studies and continuing education in public and global health. The School has an international presence and collaborative ethos, and is uniquely placed to help shape health policy and translate research findings into tangible impact.

Our mission is to improve health and health equity in the UK and worldwide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.


The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:

  • Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
  • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
  • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
  • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
  • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
  • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries (LMICs) is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.

Fee discounts

Our postgraduate taught courses provide health practitioners, clinicians, policy-makers, scientists and recent graduates with a world-class qualification in public and global health.

If you are coming to LSHTM to study an intensive master's degree or distance learning programme (PG Cert, PG Dip, MSc or individual modules) starting in 2024, you may be eligible for a 5% discount on your tuition fees.

These fee reduction schemes are available for a limited time only.