Staff profiles


Pontiano Kaleebu is the Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and Director of MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit.

The UVRI is the largest Government Research Institution in Uganda dealing in health research pertaining to human infections and disease processes associated with or linked to viral etiology and is host to a number of partner organizations including those funded by US CDC, US NIH, MRC-UK and IAVI, as well as national and regional reference laboratories. The MRC Unit is one of the two MRC-UK Units outside of the United Kingdom and is a multidisciplinary programme studying the HIV epidemic in rural and urban settings, emerging and re-emerging infections and non-communicable diseases. He heads the Pathogen Genomics, Phenotype and Immunity Programme of the Unit.

The Unit became part of LSHTM in 2018.

He holds a medical degree from Makerere University and a PhD from Imperial College, London. He is a professor of immunovirology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Department of Infection Biology; a Fellow of Royal College of Physicians-Edinburgh and a Fellow of Imperial College London, Faculty of Medicine.

As UVRI Director, he sits on the top and senior management of the Ministry of Health. He leads a number of national and regional networks including the EDCTP East African Networks of Excellence. He is a co-Director of the African Partnership for Chronic Disease Research (APCDR). He is co-director of the Uganda Medical Informatics Center (UMIC); a computational resource offering data storage and analysis capacity. He chairs the national HIV drug resistance Technical working group under the Ministry of Health and a member of the National Antiretroviral Treatment committee.

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In his role as Chief Operating Office at MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit Jonas ensures that the Unit has the best staff and physical assets as well as robust procedures to conduct world class research that improves health and health equity world-wide. Prior to starting at the Ugandan Unit Jonas was working at MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM as Research Governance & Support Services Manager. This involved oversight and driving operational efficiency of 5 research support departments as well as ensuring the Unit’s research portfolio met international and local regulations and standards and best ethical practice. In line with this he secured EDCTP- funding to support ethics review capacities in Ghana, Ethiopia and The Gambia and is leading the Coast to Coast- Transcontinental Ethics Partnership.

For the coming year Jonas is looking forward to working with Scientists and all Unit staff towards reaching the Unit goal of becoming the leading health research institute in the region. When asked how this will be achieved he says, “We are a research Unit and our strength is in unity across programmes and departments. By working together we will continue to be successful in realising ever more tangible change for people’s health in Uganda, East Africa and the world.”


Alison Elliott is theme leader for Vaccines Research at the MRC/Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit and Professor of Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.  Her main research interest is to understand how chronic and repeated infection exposure, and other environmental factors, determine population differences in immune profiles, disease susceptibility and, in particular, responses to vaccines.   

She became interested in parasitology and research in Africa as an undergraduate and this interest was encouraged further by an elective in The Gambia.  After completing medical training she joined the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and, during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, undertook studies on the interaction between tuberculosis and HIV infection in Zambia.  An infectious diseases fellowship in Denver, Colorado, followed, providing an opportunity to learn about management of drug resistant tuberculosis and about laboratory immunology.  This enabled her to plan and conduct subsequent clinical-immuno-epidemiological studies.  Since 1997 she has been based in Uganda at the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Unit.  Current research programmes include an NIHR Global Health Group on vaccines for vulnerable populations in Africa; an NIH-funded Tropical Medicine Research Center on schistosomiasis, and work on a controlled human infection model for schistosomiasis in the endemic setting.   

Building capacity in infection and immunity research in Africa is a priority and each programme supports students and post-doctoral scientists, building on the work of the Makerere University – UVRI Centre of Excellence for Infection and Immunity Research and Training which she led from 2008-2022.  This supported many fellows, and contributed to the development of a department of immunology and molecular biology at Makerere, and a Masters course, as well as supporting PhD students and senior fellows. 



Professor Moffat Nyirenda is a Diabetologist/Endocrinologist and Professor of Medicine (Global Non-Communicable Diseases) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Before joining MRC/UVRI Unit, Moffat was Director of Malawi Epidemiology and Intervention Research Unit (previously known as the Karonga Prevention Study. He holds a BSc in Immunology (University of London), MBBS (“hybrid” training between University of London and University of Malawi), and PhD in Molecular Medicine (University of Edinburgh). Having trained/worked in Edinburgh for over 15 years (where he was supported by a prestigious MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship), in 2010 Moffat returned to Malawi to take up the position of Professor of Research at the College of Medicine and Associate Director of Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme. Moffat’s research interests lie in mechanistic understanding (clinical and laboratory phenotyping) of the aetiology of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including i) investigating the association between early environmental insults and the risk of obesity, diabetes and hypertension in adulthood; ii) using cross-cutting approaches to examine the interactions between infection and NCDs; iii) contributing to genomics studies of NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa. Moffat has particular interest in research capacity building in Africa, and was Director of the Southern Africa Consortium for Research Excellence (SACORE), funded through the Wellcome Trust’s African Institutions Initiative.

He serves on a number of committees, including being chairman of Scientific Advisory Board for GSK Africa NCD Open Lab, member of the Wellcome Trust Public Health and Tropical Medicine Interview Committee, member of MRC Global Health NCD Working Group, member of Awards Assessment Panel for Africa Research Excellence (AREF), member of WHO Working Group on integration of NCDs in other programmatic areas, member of the Lancet Commission on Diabetes in Africa, and member of the Non-Communicable Disease Technical Advisory Committee to Malawi Minister of Health.


Professor Eugene Kinyanda is a senior investigator scientist and head of the mental health project at the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS. He completed his undergraduate studies in Human Medicine at Makerere University and undertook postgraduate training in psychiatry at the same University. He did his PhD at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the sub-speciality of suicidology. He holds an honorary professor position at the LSHTM in the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health.

Eugene joined the MRC/UVRI initially as a research manager but later went on to start a mental health project at the Unit. Over the last six years he has undertaken research into the psychiatric and psychosocial complications of HIV/AIDS among adults through funding by DfID (as part of the EfA Consortium) and the European-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Programme (EDCTP; through a Senior EDCTP Fellowship). He is currently undertaking a research project on children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS through funding from an MRC/DFID African Leadership Award with the Global Centre for Mental Health at LSHTM.

His other research interests include studies into the psychiatric and psychosocial problems of HIV/AIDS orphans, war affected populations, the epidemiology of common mental disorders and studies into the meanings of suicide from an African perspective. This body of work has led to more than 40 publications in peer reviewed journals.


Dr Newton is a senior epidemiologist with the Epidemiology and Prevention Programme at MRC/UVRI and a Reader in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of York, UK. He is also a Senior Visiting Scientist at the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. He qualified at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in London in 1991 and was subsequently awarded an MRC Research Training Fellowship to work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit in Oxford (now Cancer Research UK Cancer Epidemiology Unit). In 2005, he moved to the University of York and in 2012 was seconded to work at MRC/UVRI.

He is interested in the role of infectious agents and immune suppression in the etiology of cancer and has particular experience of the conduct of epidemiological research on non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.


Dr Freddie Mukasa Kibengo is a Project Leader under the Epidemiology and Prevention Programme of MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS. He qualified with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree from Mbarara University of Science and Technology IN 1998 and has a Master of Medicine (Internal Medicine) degree from Makerere University (2005). He has been involved in HIV/AIDS research for 9 years. He has previously worked as a Specialist Physician at Mulago and Mengo Hospitals in Kampala, Uganda. He has conducted research in HIV epidemiological and clinical areas including several HIV vaccine preparatory studies among various most at risk populations (MARPs) in Masaka, Uganda. He has also covered other studies on primary prophylaxis against Cryptococcal meningitis using Fluconazole among HIV infected Ugandans (phase III), Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), phase 1 HIV vaccine trials and phase III Trial of Adjunctive Dexamethasone in HIV infected Adults with Cryptococcal Meningitis. His broad area of interest is interventional clinical studies particularly on HIV/AIDS Care and vaccine development for HIV and other emerging infections.


He received his PhD at Makerere University Kampala Uganda in 2012 funded by MRC/UVRI. He received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust funded Makerere University Uganda Virus Research Institute Infection and Immunity programme from 2012 to 2014 to investigate superinfection and disease progression in female sex workers in Uganda.

He is currently a Senior Scientist with the Unit. In particular his work involves the study of the virological and immunological correlates of HIV-1 superinfection. This work involves the use of next generation sequencing with phylogenetic analysis to determine HIV-1 superinfection and neutralization assays to determine the development of neutralizing antibodies prior to and after superinfection. His other research interests include studies on HIV-1 drug resistance and molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 in Uganda. He is also involved in H3ABionet, a network tasked to develop bioinformatics capacity in Africa. With colleagues at Makerere University, he is involved in the BRecA (Bioinformatics Research Capacity in Africa, 2017-2022) project that will establish sustainable programs at Makerere University to produce a critical mass of Bioinformaticians.

He was awarded an EDCTP career development fellowship to study the Immunological Selection of Recombinants following HIV-1 Superinfection (2016-2019).


Dr Yunia Mayanja is a project leader, under the HIV Epidemiology and Intervention Programme of the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit. She qualified with a degree in medicine and surgery, and has post graduate training in Public Health (MPH).

She has been involved in HIV/AIDS research for the last 7 years; previously having worked as a physician on a project to roll out antiretroviral treatment (ART) to rural health facilities in rural Uganda and later to implement HIV prevention strategies among women involved in high risk sexual behavior (female sex workers) in Kampala, Uganda. Her work among key populations has also involved studies on HIV-1 super-infection and preparedness studies for future HIV vaccine efficacy trials.

In the past 3 years her scope of work has expanded to include epidemiological studies among adolescents and young women. She is a career development fellow on a project conducting research among 15-19 year old adolescents with epidemiological outcomes including HIV and STI prevalence and incidence, substance use, reproductive health outcomes and intimate partner violence. This project is part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union. She has also received funding from IAVI and is currently the Principal investigator on a study that is looking at different aspects (knowledge, preferences, and uptake) of biomedical HIV prevention interventions.


His current research goal is to apply his expertise in fundamental cellular immunology to the investigation of tuberculosis in Uganda, a setting in which this disease is still highly endemic. In his previous posts, he undertook research into lymphocyte migration and trafficking, studies which were performed in mice and gave him key skills in isolating lymphocytes from tissues, multi parameter flow cytometry and immunofluorescence techniques.

He joined the MRC/UVRI research Unit on AIDS in 2009 and his focus has since changed to human Immunology. He is a named co-investigator and project lead on an MRC funded project to look at whether a latent TB infection in mothers affects their infant’s response to BCG. He is also undertaking other projects like the non-specific effects of BCG in infants and a post-mortem study being piloted at Mulago Hospital collaboration with the Pathology Department to look at the immune response to TB in the tissues, the site at where the infection is.

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Dr Jennifer Serwanga is a cellular Immunologist in the area of HIV/AIDS. She received her PhD training at Murdoch University, Western Australia, after accomplishing a BVM degree at Makerere University, Kampala. She is a scientific leader in Immunology, Basic Science programme where she takes charge of a team that aims to improve understanding of correlates of protection in HIV-1 disease progression, resistance to infection and HIV-1 super infection that will inform relevant vaccine formulation.

She is directly involved in the research activities undertaken by the team, in mentoring their career development, and in providing targeted training to support their undertaken research. The involved research areas include: studies to evaluate alternative reagents for assessing clade A and D cellular responses; screening clade A and D infected populations for correlates of broadly neutralising antibodies; evaluating pre-existing immunity to Adenoviruses to provide information relevant for vaccine design; and defining T-Cell correlates of protection in HIV clade A and D populations.

Dr. Serwanga is involved in developing Immunology capacity in the country by supporting laboratory capacity building, training in the annual ‘Immunology in the tropics’ course and providing methodological support and training in flow cytometry and neutralisation assay procedures. Over the years, she has taken lead in coordinating the Institutional effort to mitigate consequences associated with handling and working with potentially infectious hazardous chemical and biological agents. She currently serves on Ministry of Health advisory panels including the National Infection Control Committee and the National Committee for the Laboratory Containment of Polio.


Dr Sylvia Kusemererwa heads the IPM project at the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS field station in Masaka. She holds a degree in Medicine and Surgery as well as a Master in Public Health from Makerere University.

She was involved in HIV treatment and care for four years at The AIDS Support Organization. She participated in the Partner’s PrEP study and currently coordinates the Ring Study evaluating the safety and efficacy of a vaginal microbicide.


Dr Rwamahe Rutakumwa is a Post-Doctoral Social Scientist in the Social Science Research Programme. He holds a baccalaureate in Social Sciences from Makerere University, as well as a MSc. and a PhD in Rural Sociology from the University of Alberta, Canada. His research background is in the area of poverty and health, public policy in the developing world, and how structural forces at national and global levels interface to impact the incidence of and efforts to alleviate poverty.

In the 11 years prior to joining the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS, Rwamahe was involved in multiple social science and health research projects and has authored/co-authored various publications. Though his current research cuts across the three thematic areas of the Social Science research program, he is especially interested in structural drivers of HIV and other illnesses.


Harriet is a clinician and epidemiologist whose main research interest is investigating the causes of the increasing prevalence of asthma and other chronic inflammatory diseases in developing countries. She obtained her Master’s degree (Epidemiology) and PhD training from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

She joined the MRC Unit in 2003 to work with the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (EMaBS). She took an active role in aspects of EMaBS investigating the relationship between worm infections and allergic conditions, and has published in this area. She is currently a Wellcome Trust fellow investigating the risk factors associated with asthma among children in Uganda, with emphasis on chronic immune-modulating infections such as worms and malaria. With colleagues within the Co-infections Studies Programme, she is interested in the possible therapeutic role of worms in the management of asthma and other chronic inflammatory diseases.


Agnes holds a bachelor’s degree in Social work and Social Administration, an MA degree in Social Sector Planning and Management from Makerere University, a post graduate diploma in Public health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a PhD in International Development from the University of East Anglia, Norwich in the United Kingdom.

She has over twenty years’ experience of social and behavioural research in various programs, including collaborative efforts in prevention of HIV and AIDS targeting different groups of people including discordant couples. She has been involved in strategic planning and management of research outputs and has also been part of clinical trials to try and understand the behavioural issues that influence participation in clinical research. She served on the UVRI ethics committee for 4 years (2007-2010).

She currently works as a behavioural scientist in an intervention targeting HIV and AIDS prevention among women at high risk, their regular partners and their children in a programme in Kampala- the Good Health for Women Project ( GHWP). The focus of her current research interest is the ethics of conduct of research, particularly the informed consent process in research. She is also interested in the prevention of structural drivers of HIV and AIDS particularly facing women at high risk at the work place. The effects of HIV and AIDS on the regular sex partners and the children of the women at high risk.


Monica Badaru is the Finance Manager at the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS.

Monica has over 10 years‘ experience as an accountant and has worked with the Unit for the last 3 years as Senior Accountant.

She holds a Bachelor‘s of Commerce degree from Makerere University, Accountancy Certificate with ACCA and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University, University of Edinburgh.


Sarah is the Field Station Administrator for the Masaka field station. She has worked with MRC since 1994 and her office supports the Research Scientists to carry on their Research by coordinating Transport, Finances and Supplies.


Dr Femke Bannink Mbazzi is a clinical and educational psychologist, and cultural anthropologist with 15+ years' research and clinical work experience in mental health and disability inclusion in Uganda.

She is an Assistant Professor at the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, FWO post doc fellow at Ghent University.

Dr Femke is the Principal Investigator of the 'Obuntu bulamu' inclusive education study and Co-Investigator on 'The impact of COVID related measures on vulnerable populations' / iCOVID study with Prof Dr Janet Seeley.

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Dr Ubaldo M Bahemuka is a Clinical Epidemiologist at the Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute & London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Uganda Research Unit.

He is also a member of the Lake Victoria Consortium for Health Research. Most of his work at the unit is focused on understanding the epidemiology and prevention of HIV and STI’s in Uganda especially within high risk populations such as; fisher folk, sex workers and HIV discordant couples among others.

His work interest areas are centred around clinical trials to assess safety and efficacy of HIV prevention technologies such as HIV vaccines.

His work has also contributed significantly to the clinical assessment of trials on HIV prevention strategies such as; HIV vaccines, Vaginal microbicides, PrEP, STI treatment and socio-behavioural change interventions.

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Ludoviko is a medical doctor and a research scientist at Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Tropical medicine and Hygiene Uganda Research Unit in Entebbe. A position he has held since 2018. In this capacity, he leads clinical trials in the field of vaccines that are looking at how different populations in Uganda respond to commonly used vaccines. Ludoviko is a member of a Uganda National Council of Science and Technology Research and Ethics committee at Hospice Africa Uganda and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Research and Ethics Committee.

Prior to this, he served at Hospice Africa Uganda for a period of over seven years as a palliative care doctor and Clinical director. Ludoviko has supported health policy and advocacy efforts not only in Uganda but other African countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya and Malawi. He has also supported training of health workers at undergraduate and post graduate levels in Uganda at the Institute of Hospice and Palliative care in Africa that is affiliated to Makerere University.

Ludoviko holds a Bachelors of Medicine degree (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied sciences, Dar es salaam, Tanzania), a Master’s degree in medicine (University of Edinburgh, Scotland) and a Master’s in Public health (University of Edinburgh, Scotland).

His area of interest is population differences in vaccine responses, Non-specific (beneficial) effects of vaccines and clinical palliative care research.

Ludoviko is married to Diana and together, God has blessed them with two children Darian Luke and David Lewis.

Florence Nambaziira Muzaale

Head of Clinical Diagnostics and Laboratories and Biobanking Platform



Mrs. Muzaale is a medical laboratory scientist by training with a master of science in emerging and neglected infectious diseases from the University of Edinburgh UK. She is currently the Head of the Unit’s Clinical Diagnostics and Laboratories and Biobanking Platform.

Mrs. Muzaale has over sixteen years of experience in managing laboratory clinical diagnostics service delivery across several key disciplines including hematology, microbiology, molecular and clinical chemistry. She has been at the forefront of technical teams at the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC) and Nakasero Hospital, in Uganda.

Her specialty over the years has included research work, clinical trials, safety testing, and clinical diagnosis for infectious and non-communicable diseases. She is currently managing clinical diagnosis and safety testing for over 10 studies and clinical trials at the Unit.


Dr Gyaviira Nkurunungi

Senior Scientist


Dr. Gyaviira Nkurunungi holds a PhD in immuno-epidemiology (2016-2019) and an MSc in immunology (2013-2014) from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His PhD focused on immunological mechanisms of helminth-allergy associations in rural and urban Uganda, with an emphasis on antibody studies.1,2,3 Earlier in his career, he contributed to work on childhood tuberculosis infection, describing utility of interferon-gamma release assays in Ugandan children, at the time hailed as the ‘100-year upgrade’ in TB diagnosis.4

Currently, Dr. Nkurunungi leads the immunology team on an MRC UKRI-funded programme of Ugandan trials assessing population differences in vaccine-specific responses.5 His EDCTP-funded preparatory fellowship (2021) and Wellcome-funded early-career training fellowship (2022-2025) use samples from these trials, and cutting-edge wet lab techniques and integrative computational approaches, for studies aimed at unravelling biological predictors of vaccine response. He is also the immunology work package lead on the NIH-funded Uganda Schistosomiasis Multidisciplinary Research Centre, which aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the biological drivers of severe schistosomal morbidity.

His major research focus is on the immunomodulating effects of chronic infections on communicable and non-communicable diseases, and on vaccine immunogenicity and effectiveness.

1Clin Exp Allergy 2019;49(5): 663-676

2Clin Exp Allergy 2021;51(5): 703-15

3Allergy 2021; 76(1):233-46

4PLoS One 2012;7(10): e47340

5BMJ Open 2021;11(2): e040425

CPA Julius Kakaire

Senior Accountant


CPA Julius Kakaire serves as the Senior Accountant of MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit. Julius has over Eight years of experience in Finance and Accounting for nonprofit and profit organization settings.  He has exposure in managing the entire full accounting cycle and first hands-on working experience with local and international partners. He recognizes and appreciates the complexities around managing financial resources and strives to achieve organizational objectives in an effective, efficient, and transparent way.

As a finance person, Julius is responsible for preparing budget-based reports, implementation of system controls, cash management and he is an agent for positive changes. He further acts with high integrity, professional behavior and does his work with a lot of professional skepticism.

Julius is a Certified Accountant, a member of the Certified Public Accountant of Uganda. (ICPAU) and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Makerere University.

Mariam Nanteza

Head of the Research Support Office,


Mariam Nanteza is a grant management specialist, she joined MRC on 8th May 2017 with over 8 years of experience in Financial Management, Grants Management, and administrative roles. She is a qualified Accountant, a Fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants-ACCA, and also a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda-ICPAU, with a Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Management (PGDFM) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA), currently pursuing a Doctorate of Business Administration.

Ms. Nanteza has served both Development and Research organizations in different capacities. She started her career as an Administrative Officer, she also worked as a Finance officer, Grants Officer, and Senior Grants coordinator before joining MRC/UVRI&LSHTM Uganda Research Unit as a Senior Grants Officer.

In her current role as the Head of the Research Support Office, she writes policies and leads the assessment and management of departmental risks. She also coordinates the sourcing and circulation of funding opportunities to staff, oversees the grant application pre-submission approval processes, and facilitates contract/ MTA/ confidentiality agreement negotiations. On a monthly basis, she updates the Unit Management and Heads of Departments about the general operation of the Research Support Office and summarizes the status of applications, awards, and pipelines as well as oversees fund monitoring, preparation, and submission of donor financial reports for over 100 donor-funded projects among other responsibilities.

Dr Joseph Mugisha Okello

General Population Cohort Platform Head,


Dr. Joseph Mugisha is a clinical epidemiologist with an MSc in Clinical epidemiology and Biostatistics from Makerere University, a doctorate in epidemiology and population health from the University of London, at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a post-doctorate from the University of Missouri, Columbia USA. Dr. Mugisha also trained and qualified as a medical doctor from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, and prior to his research career, he practiced medicine at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital.

At the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, Dr. Mugisha heads the General Population Cohort Platform (GPC), which is a one stop center for population-based studies. Since 2016, he has been involved in surveys on disability to assess the prevalence of functioning difficulties under a number of domains and to look at needs of assistive devices among people with functioning difficulties.

Dr. Mugisha’s research interest lies in the health and wellbeing of older people in low- and middle-income countries, and how NCDs and HIV impact on ageing. He has previously led a cohort study of older people living with and without HIV in Uganda. Also, his PhD thesis focused on the epidemiology of anemia among old people in rural Uganda and how anemia impacts on functioning in older people. 

Dr Sheila Nina Balinda

Assistant Professor/Senior Scientist,


Dr. Sheila Nina Balinda, BSc, MSc, PhD is a Molecular Virologist at the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, with vast experience in One Health. She is part of the virus surveillance team, whose research work will inform priority immunogens for HIV-1 vaccine development and bnAB prevention approaches targeted to specific populations in Africa and India.

In 2001, Sheila completed her degree in biochemistry at Makerere University in Uganda and was later a Chevening scholar in applied molecular microbiology at Nottingham University, UK graduating in 2005. In 2011, Dr. Balinda attained a doctorate in molecular virology from Makerere University studying foot & mouth disease virus. Dr. Balinda then joined the research team at Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) Uganda as project manager developing low-cost HIV-1 drug resistance tests for adult and pediatric cohorts. She completed her postdoctoral research funded by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) under its Vaccine Immunology Science and Technology for Africa project (VISTA). This work contributed to the initial characterization of HIV-1 transmitted founder viruses of subtypes A, D and A/D in Uganda. Further, Dr. Balinda is a recipient of the SANTHE “path–to–independence” and the IAVI/Investigator initiated Research (IIR) capacity–building awards in which several graduate Master of Science Students were mentored.

Dr. Balinda now leads a team of Ugandan researchers developing and characterising a novel adeno–vector for vaccine development, funded by the Government of Uganda.

Dr Anne Kapaata

Post-Doctoral Scientist,


Anne Kapaata (BSc, MSC, PhD) is currently a post-doctoral scientist at MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, with over a decade’s experience working with HIV-1 viruses. She is currently working on the virus surveillance project where she is identifying HIV-1 Unique transmission signatures associated with HIV-1 transmission to inform immunogens for HIV-1 vaccine development.

In 2005, Anne completed her degree in Biomedical laboratory technology at Makerere University in Uganda and later in 2012 completed her MSc in Biomedical Laboratory sciences and Management at Makerere University. In 2022, Dr Kapaata attained a doctorate in Molecular Virology from Makerere examining genotypic and phenotypic Characterization of HIV-1 transmitted/founder viruses and their effect on cytokine profiles and disease progression among acutely infected Ugandans. Dr. Kapaata Joined the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM unit in 2006 as a laboratory technologist where she worked on several HIV-1 laboratory-based projects and her role was to design and execute the laboratory aspects of these studies.

Dr. Kapaata is a recipient of the recent IAVI/Investigator initiated Research (IIR) capacity-building award where she is mentoring MSc students and exploring the use of next generation sequencing methodologies to improve HIV-1 incidence estimation in the population.

Femke Bannink Mbazzi

Associate Professor / Head Disability Research Group


Dr Femke Bannink Mbazzi is an Associate Professor at the International Centre for Evidence in Disability (ICED) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), based in Uganda, where she heads the Disability Research Group at the unit. The Disability Research Group consists of East African researchers, including persons with disabilities, who develop and implement African disability research.

She studied clinical and educational psychology and cultural anthropology in The Netherlands and Belgium. She moved to Uganda in 2003 where she has worked as a clinician and researcher since. Her research focuses on disability inclusion and mental health. She is passionate about developing evidence based culturally appropriate health and education interventions with persons with disabilities through participatory and co-creative research.

Dr Freddie Mukasa Kibengo

Senior Scientist,



Dr. Freddie Mukasa Kibengo is a Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator with the Viral Pathogens and Vaccine Research themes. He completed his undergraduate studies in Human Medicine at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at Makerere University and in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). He is a Fellow of the Physicians (FCP) of East, Central, and Southern Africa (ECSA). He is also a member of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), Association of Physicians of Uganda (ASOU), World Federation of Neurology (WFN), and American Society of Microbiology (ASM).

His research interests focus on the epidemiology of infectious diseases, particularly in the fields of early and recent HIV infection, HIV transmission networks, development of HIV and other infectious diseases vaccines, and novel and cost-effective strategies to improve the management of HIV/AIDS-related opportunistic infections (including tuberculosis and cryptococcosis) and other co-morbidities. His other research interests include optimisation of childhood vaccines, HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and other novel HIV preventive technologies.

Nicholas Bbosa

Assistant Professor / Scientist,


Dr. Nicholas Bbosa is a Virologist by training with a PhD in Molecular Virology from Makerere University. He is currently a scientist and project leader at the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit and an Assistant Professor of at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UK.

Nicholas completed a Postdoctoral fellowship at the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit in 2021 where he investigated the Molecular Epidemiology of HIV transmission in key and general population groups in Uganda. He has also undertaken several fellowships in pathogen genomics big data analysis at the University of Oxford (UK), University of Edinburgh (UK) and Imperial College London (UK).

His research interests focus on the use of next generation sequencing, molecular phylogenetics, pathogen phylodynamics, infectious disease models and bioinformatics to understand disease transmission networks, with the goal of informing epidemic response. He is currently involved in SARS-CoV-2 genomics and viral pathogen discovery studies.

Dr Moses Egesa

Research Fellow


Dr Moses Egesa has a Ph.D. in parasite immunology from Makerere University, Uganda in 2020. He is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK, a lecturer at Makerere University and tutors at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

At the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Unit, Dr Egesa is a Project Lead for the Wellcome-funded programme “Establishing a single sex S. mansoni controlled human infection model for Uganda”. He is also an EDCTP Career Development Fellow characterizing protein and glycan epitopes recognised following controlled human infection with Schistosoma mansoni in an endemic population.

Furthermore, Dr. Egesa is a co-investigator on various local and international collaborative schistosomiasis research grants with the Infectious Diseases Institute, ( Leiden University Medical Center, and University of York.

Dr. Egesa’s research goal is to contribute to the development of effective vaccines for schistosomiasis in Africa, and his key interests lie in the immunology of schistosomiasis.



Nicholas Nsubuga

Unit Quality Manager


Nicholas serves as a Unit Quality Manager at the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda research Unit. He has over 10 years’ experience in Quality and Risk management, strategic planning and monitoring in nonprofit organizations.

In his current position, Nicholas is responsible for overseeing and facilitating the continuous improvement of Quality across all areas of Unit activity, managing the Unit’s Quality Management Systems (QMS), Risk management, conducting and supporting  internal external audits and maintaining a functional and well documented framework of policies and procedures.

Nicholas is a member and a fellow with the International society of quality in healthcare-ISQua and holds a Master’s degree in Monitoring and Evaluation.