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Mak Launches COVID Convalescent Plasma Investigational New Drug and Trial

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. First reported in early December 2019 in Wuhan China, it has since spread across all continents. Over 21 million cases have been reported, and more than 700,000 deaths have been recorded. The first case of COVID-19 in Uganda was reported on 21st March, 2020 and since then, more than 5,000 cases have been reported, with more than 60 deaths recorded.

There is no vaccine available for COVID-19, and treatments are only starting to emerge. There is emerging evidence to support use of COVID Convalescent Plasma (CCP) for treatment of COVID-19 especially among severe and critical patients. Plasma is the straw colored liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components of blood are removed.

Wednesday, September 16th 2020 was yet another day of great achievement to Makerere University in Kampala Uganda. On this day, Uganda’s Minister of Health; Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng officially launched the Uganda Coronavirus Convalescent Plasma Investigational New Drug and the CCP trial to assess the safety and efficacy of CCP in treatment of COVID 19 in Uganda. The launch was held at Makerere University’s Main Hall. Prof. William Bazeyo, the session chair and also Principal Investigator of the project gave welcome remarks on behalf of Makerere University’s Vice Chancellor. He thanked the government of the Republic of Uganda for funding this project and several others (now totaling to over 500 multidisciplinary projects) through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MAK-RIF) https://rif.mak.ac.ug/ . He also thanked Hon. Dr. Aceng who graced the occasion as Chief Guest for the continued support from the Ministry. He ended by assuring the Hon. Minister that Makerere University Medical School is working hard to become number one in Africa after being ranked second for so long. He noted this was possible with more support from the Government of the Republic of Uganda.

L-R: Ag. Principal CHS-Prof. Kajja Isaac, Prof. William Bazeyo, UPDF Chief of Medical Services-Dr. Ambrose Musinguzi, UPDF Physician-Dr. John Lusiba, Dr. Bruce Kirenga (Right) and another official at the CCP Launch
L-R: Ag. Principal CHS-Prof. Kajja Isaac, Prof. William Bazeyo, UPDF Chief of Medical Services-Dr. Ambrose Musinguzi, UPDF Physician-Dr. John Lusiba, Dr. Bruce Kirenga (Right) and another official at the CCP Launch

Dr. Bruce Kirenga; the Director Makerere University Lung Institute http://mli.mak.ac.ug and also Principal Investigator of this project mentioned that despite evidence of possible efficacy of CCP in treatment of COVID-19, very few African countries have undertaken the collection and processing of CCP. He mentioned the aim of the project was to assess the feasibility of collecting, processing and storing of CCP for treatment of COVID-19 in Uganda. He emphasized the need to collaborate and collate all the related scientific facts throughout the collection, processing and storage of Convalescent Plasma.

The team approached COVID-19 recovered individuals who had been managed and discharged at the treatment centers across the country. To be included, participants needed to provide written informed consent, have documented evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection by PCR, have documented evidence of full recovery from COVID-19, be at least 18 years old and meet all criteria for blood donation set by Uganda National Blood Transfusion Services in order to be eligible.

Dr. Bruce Kirenga said 87% of the 186 individuals who came to the center, qualified to donate. The donors were received from all regions of Uganda except Karamoja that had not registered an infection by commencement of the study. The median age of the donors was 33 years and 3.7% were females. A significant finding was that all the samples donated had enough antibodies to warrant use in treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The Minister of Health-Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng washes her hands after the launch on 16th September 2020 using the Touchless Handwashing Kit (TW-20) developed with support from the Government of Uganda through Mak-RIF
The Minister of Health-Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng washes her hands after the launch on 16th September 2020 using the Touchless Handwashing Kit (TW-20) developed with support from the Government of Uganda through Mak-RIF

In her address, Hon. Dr. Aceng thanked the scientists for the innovation and gave the green light to commence the CCP trial with immediate effect, now that the product was available. The Minister appealed to the general public to continue observing the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures as scientists continue to innovate, find treatment and cure for the deadly virus. She said the country had reached phase 4 of the pandemic and the virus was now killing on average 2-3 people a day. This she noted was indicative of widespread community transmission of COVID-19 meaning that the spread can no longer be controlled but can only be mitigated. She emphasized that COVID-19 in Uganda is real so anything proven that can be done to save life is highly welcome and appreciated.

The project was conducted by COVID Research (COVIDRES); a multi-disciplinary research group coordinated by the Makerere University Lung Institute (http://mli.mak.ac.ug). Other partners on the project are: Uganda People’s Defense Forces Medical Services, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Joint Clinical Research Center and Uganda Blood Transfusion Services. The team is now moving forward to undertaking the CCP trial.

Project details are shared and accessible here

Media Coverage of the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Investigational Drug launch

Broadcast Media

  1. NTV Uganda https://youtu.be/31DM3zeJqdM

Print Media

  1. The Independent https://www.independent.co.ug/makerere-scientists-big-move-on-covid-19-treatment/
  2. Makerere University Vice Chancellor’s Diary https://news.mak.ac.ug/2020/09/launching-covid-19-convalescent-plasma-drug/
  3. Uganda Update https://www.ugandaupdatenews.com/uganda-starts-plasma-based-treatment-trial-for-covid-19/
  4. The New Vision of September 17, 2020 page 3-See attached
  5. Daily Monitor of September 17, 2020 page 3-See attached

Pictures shared on https://we.tl/t-T99Kxua9nl

‘We Build for the Future’ ‘For God and My Country’

Compiled By: Musoki Walter Jack, 3rd Year Medicine and Surgery Student at Makerere University and

Harriet Adong, Communications Officer, Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)

Health

Alliance for Global Health and Science 2021 Virtual Institute

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A male technician in one of the Research Labs at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), Makerere University. Photo credit: Miriam Namutebi, Moses Nsubuga/New Vision

The Alliance for Global Health and Science (the Alliance) is a partnership between the University of California, Berkeley and Makerere University. The Alliance seeks to make a tangible, enduring impact by focusing on locally identified health research needs and strengthening collaborations between faculty at UC Berkeley and Makerere University.

The Alliance Summer Institute is an opportunity for Makerere University students to learn cutting edge, vital skillsets for bioscience researchers from world class scientists from the University of California system, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, SciDIP Global, and Makerere University. This year, the Institute will be held completely virtually, keeping in mind the public health crisis of COVID-19.

If you are interested in participating in the Summer Institute, please fill out this application form which can be found at: https://forms.gle/d1WZVBin3sbfyZdF6

All applications require 1) a letter of interest outlining which course(s) you are interested in participating in, how you will benefit from this coursework, and how you intend on using it to advance your scientific career, and 2) an up-to-date resume listing relevant prerequisites, experience, and coursework with references.

Applications are due by June 30th, 2021 at the latest. The courses being offered this year are as
follows:

  • Introduction to Next Generation Sequencing and Genomic Epidemiology (July 19 – 30)
  • Bioentrepreneurship: Small Molecule Therapeutic and Diagnostic Development (July 19 – 23)
  • Bioinformatics: Covid19 Pandemic Genome Sequence Analysis and Phylogenomics (August 2 – 13)
  • Scientific Diplomacy (August 2 – 13)
  • Concepts and techniques in modern vaccine design for global infectious disease (July 26 – August 6)
  • Scientific Grantwriting & Presentation (August 9 – 13)

Please see Downloads for details.

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Call for Applications: MakNCD Non-Degree Research Support

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Guest of Honour & Minister of Health-Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng (C), flanked by Chancellor-Prof. Ezra Suruma (4th R), Chairperson Council-Eng. Dr. Charles Wana-Etyem (4th L), Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (3rd L), Chairperson BoT, SAIU-H.E. King Caesar Augustus Mulenga (3rd R), Principal CHS-Dr. Charles Ibingira (2nd R), Book Author-Mr. Nelson Twinamasiko with other officials and delegates at the First International NCD Symposium official opening, 12th February 2018, Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala.

The Makerere University Non-Communicable Disease (MAK-NCD) Research Training Program, funded by the United States National Institute of Health-Fogarty international centre is a collaboration between Makerere University College of Health Sciences and Johns Hopkins University. The overall goal of this training program is to develop a comprehensive mentored research-training program in Uganda that will build local capacity to address the challenges of NCD control and management and promote the use of research findings to inform decision-making and policy.

This call for applications is targeting mainly junior researchers and Graduates at Makerere University with interest in building an independent research career in NCD.

A stipend and mentorship support for up to 12 months will be available to the selected candidates

Criteria for selection:

  1. Must have a concept or a research idea proposal in one of the following NCD areas; Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRD), Diabetes Mellitus (DM), Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) & Hypertension.
  2. Demonstrated interest in NCD research studies focusing on biomedical sciences, Clinical Research, Epidemiology, Implementation Science research and Policy.
  3. Commitment to develop and maintain a productive career devoted to NCD
  4. Must have two (2) mentors in the proposed area of research.
  5. Must commit 40% of their time (2 working days) to the fellowship. A letter of support from an immediate supervisor stating that you can commit this time is required

The following are the broad NCD Research priority areas (themes). Applicants are encouraged to develop concepts from these themes.

  • (a)   Chronic Respiratory Diseases
  • (b)  Cardiovascular Diseases
  • (c)   Diabetes
  • (d)  Renal diseases

Benefits:

  • Mentorship
  • A monthly stipend will be provided upon development of a full proposal and clearance of the proposed study with appropriate IRB
  • Short courses in Bioethics, Good clinical Practice, Good laboratory Practice, Grant writing, Data Analysis and Manuscript writing.
  • Support to submit at least 1 paper in an indexed peer-reviewed journal as first author for publication
  • Fellows that achieve set targets will be supported to apply for additional grant funding to conduct primary research
  • Platform to develop into an independent Researcher in the NCD field

Application Process:

  • Email Makncd.chs@mak.ac.ug to request for the application form and CV template
  • Submit completed application, detailed CV, 2 letters of recommendation, letter of support from immediate supervisor stating that you can commit 40% of your time to the fellowship to Makncd.chs@mak.ac.ug, cc to Program Manager. Dr. Charles Batte dr.cbatte@gmail.com

Deadline for submission of applications: 9th July,2021.

  “Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted”

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MU-JHU Positions: Locum Midwives/Nurses – WOMANPOWER Study June 2021

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Female staff at the Makerere University –Johns Hopkins University (MU-JHU) Research Collaboration Family Care Centre. Photo credit: MU-JHU

The Makerere University-Johns Hopkins (MU-JHU) Research Collaboration – MU-JHU CARE LTD, a Kampala – based equal opportunities Clinical Research and Service Delivery Organisation with more than 350 employees is seeking interested, committed and reliable professionals with the described qualifications to apply for the Locum positions listed below in support of the EDCTP funded studies. The positions are Locum positions on short term contract for 6 months.

1. Locum Midwife/Nurse: multiple positions
    Reports To: Nurse Coordinator
    Duty station: MUJHU, Kisenyi HCIV and Kawempe National Referral Hospital

Required qualifications and profile:

A Diploma in Midwifery/Nursing, with current registration for practice from the Uganda Nurses and Midwives councils (UNMC) with interest in working in a busy labour ward with minimum supervision. The candidates are required to have worked for at least three (3) years in a busy health centre/institution. Previous work experience in a clinical research environment and/or with HIV, TB and/or MCH clinical care would be a strong advantage. Computer literacy is required. The successful candidates should be willing and able to work extended duty shifts i.e. 12 hour day, and 12 hour night shifts, including public holidays and weekends.

The holder of this position will work under the direct supervision of the Nurse Coordinator with guidance from the Head of Nursing Section, and will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Working closely with other health professionals/research staff to obtain consents.
  • Provide midwifery/nursing care to study participants as well as do phlebotomy, cord blood sampling and other sample collection as required.
  • Collect data using tablets and laptops.
  • Participate in study data quality assurance and control.
  • Any other duties reasonably assigned by the relevant authorities.
  • Maintain professional GCP/HSP accreditation and complete study specific training as required.

Applications with complete C.Vs, including 3 referees and their full addresses or contact Telephone numbers, copies of academic certificates and testimonials, should be hand delivered to: MU-JHU Human Resource Manager, through the reception on first floor, MUJHU 1 Building – not later than 25th June, 2021 by 5.30pm.

Only short-listed applicants will be contacted. Successful candidates will be expected to start work immediately.

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