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MakSPH Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee Gets New Leadership

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By Davidson Ndyabahika

Makerere University School of Public Health’s (MakSPH) Dr. David Musoke has started his term as the new Chair of the Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee.

Dr. Musoke, a Lecturer in the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at MakSPH, replaced Dr. David Serwadda, an infectious disease epidemiologist and Professor at the School who had served in this capacity for 13 years, at the committee’s handover meeting held on 23rd March 2021.

MakSPH maintains its rank as an academic, research leader in public health in the region. This has been enabled by a strong and dedicated team of professionals that support the research and training. The School has also been leading in this area of grants management in the entire University, thanks to the credible leadership of the School.

A brief about the Grants Committee

Between 2003 and 2009, Professor Serwadda was Director of the then Makerere Institute of Public Health. He served in that position until 2007 when he was promoted to the position of Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health, following the elevation of the Institute to a constituent School of Makerere University College of Health Sciences. It is during this period, that he started a grants committee.

“During that time, the committee did not perform as expected because there was a lot of resistance. Nevertheless, in 2008 the grants committee kicked off,” Professor Serwadda recalls. 

In the past four years, the committee has evolved into what we now know as the Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee.

One of its key achievements under Prof. Serwadda’s leadership has been a generation of strong policies to guide the grants management at the School, that have since been approved by the School Board. The documents range from the Grants Procedure Manual, Conflict of Interest Policy to Management of Grants external to MakSPH.

“These documents we have developed are very important for purposes of management and procedural management of the grants at the School. Having these documents is a very important achievement as Makerere University Central Management does not have some of them very well outlined for the whole University,” Professor Serwadda.

He adds that; “The School of Public Health has been leading in this area and some of the colleges are learning from what we have been able to do to manage their grants.”

Additionally, the grants committee has been involved in the capacity strengthening by the grant’s secretariat. “I am extremely grateful to the grants secretariat and initiatives they have made in securing grants for purposes of either training researchers among others. This is something that is commendable,” Professor Serwadda.

Professor Serwadda also appealed to the new committee to embark on the Monitoring and Evaluation of the performance of grants, which had initially been thought to be the function of the Heads of Department. He added that the committee ought to continuously sensitize and enforce the monitoring and evaluation of projects.

“The other issue is the individual conduct of the PIs on these grants. There is a need to follow well-laid-out procedures for procurement, as well as conflict of interest. The conduct of the PI is extremely important in setting a tone on how the whole grant is managed,” said Professor Serwadda.

Other Areas of Improvement

Professor Serwadda highlighted that the Grants committee needs to regularly sensitize staff about the grants policies that exist in the School.

The in-coming Grants committee chairperson Dr. David Musoke said thanked the School management for entrusting him with the leadership of the committee.

“This confidence in me by the management of the School will be a driving force to work with the new team to ensure that we build on what has been achieved by the committee and move its agenda forward,” Dr. Musoke.

“I wish in a special way to thank my predecessor Prof. David Serwadda who has been at the forefront of this committee for very many years and, we have seen what the committee has been able to achieve over the years. This gives us an opportunity as the in-coming committee to harness what has been achieved but also build on the successes and learn from the challenges for the benefit of the School. I believe we will carry on the great work done by the outgoing committee and we shall make the entire School faculty proud,” he added.

Dr. Musoke further highlighted that the committee will continue to support the use and adherence to the already existing policy guidelines moving forward to enable proper management of grants at the School.

Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor and Dean, MakSPH emphasized that the Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee is a very crucial committee of the School.

“The volume of work has grown. We have a lot of funds coming into the School. Last year, we had slightly over US$ 30M in grants coming into the School despite the fact that we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the things I am excited about is that these funds are not being contributed by one large grant. It is being contributed to by multiple small grants,” Prof. Wanyenze said.

She added that at the time she took over the Office of the Dean, the School’s grants portfolio went down about 50% because three large grants ended simultaneously.

“At that time, we were coming down from over US$ 30M to almost half if we had not put in deliberately efforts to try and expand the pool of people bringing in grants, multiple small grants, deliberately expanding partnerships so that we can work with more people, and so we have more players and to me, that is more sustainable,” Professor Wanyenze explains.

In the last three years, MakSPH has had more than 20 new partners and several direct first-time grantees. 

According to Prof. Wanyenze, the School aspires to have more visibility in terms of Ph.D. training for regional leadership as the first Public Health Institute in the region.

“We have expanded the number of regional grants that we are coordinating as a School. There are more coming. This has been a deliberate effort and we must continue since we now understand what it takes to have that presence in the region,” she noted.

The Dean also noted that the school will further ensure it improves on the management of partnerships and grants.

“It is one thing winning a grant but it’s another sustaining this grant. Being in harmony with your funder, partners and making sure that you can pull them to deliver quality products on time is crucial. That is a major issue and one of our biggest risks. We have been taught science and no one has taught us administration and therefore the issues that break us are quite often not the science but how we manage our grants, our people, the procurement, and many other things. We need to continue to learn so that we appreciate our policies put in place,” Dr. Wanyenze.

Through the PMA project, Jhpiego, an international, non-profit health organization affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University rated MakSPH highly during the 3rd Organizational Capacity Assessment.  

Prof. Wanyenze also noted that; “We had initially scored about 50% in Human Resources in the previous assessment but now the last assessment put us at 100%. But we need to continue to learn and so we appreciate that excellent contribution, all those great policies, it’s a reason we score highly. It is very important for us to attract money and continue to have more funders come to us but we must tighten up the loopholes within the policies and be able to implement them.”

She commended Prof. Serwadda for the great leadership of the committee and for working with humility. “We really appreciate your work. You have done a great job and I really like that you have had a good end-game. I hope you will keep around so that you continue to support Dr. Musoke and his team so that we can continue to add to the good works that you started, but also reach out and support us in the office of the Dean and Management so that we can continue moving the school to the next level.”

“I don’t take smooth handovers for granted and I almost feel emotional when I see a smooth handover. This is a special moment for seeing that after 13 years, we have a smooth handover to the next generation of leaders for the School,” Dr. Wanyenze said.

She urged Dr. Musoke to ensure professionalism, ethics, integrity for research capacity building. She emphasized the need for good administration, good management.

“If there is anyone thing, I would like to leave behind myself in this School, is that we must learn to be good managers, we must learn and be good administrators because ultimately we cannot manage our projects that we are funded to implement if we are not good at those things,” She advanced.

To the grants team, the Deans said; “We are the leaders in terms of ensuring that we have a solid grants management, infrastructure, systems that can help us. The key is going to be on how we implement our policies. We must lead by example.”

She equally hailed the grants secretariat for being outstanding and excellent at the job they do.

What others say

Dr. Lynn Atuyambe, Associate Professor at MakSPH thanked the out-going Chair for dedicated service, keeping the committee together for 13 years. 

“In an emotional special way, I really would like to thank the administration and specifically the Dean and Professor Serwadda for a job well done. No wonder, you are moving higher and higher at national and global levels. We really want to emulate you as much as possible for the inspiring leadership and all the achievements,” Dr. Atuyambe said.

Dr. Victoria Nankabirwa in equal measure hailed Prof. Serwadda’s exceptional leadership, citing that they had learned a lot from him and his leadership.

“We are very grateful to you Professor Serwadda for the foundation. We are also grateful to the secretariat. It is true that this actually one of the best secretariats that I have seen. We are thankful to the Dean who is very active in many things particularly with this committee, including the Small Grants.,” Dr. Nankabirwa.

Dr. David Guwatudde, a Professor and Co-chair of the incoming Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee thanked Professor Serwadda for the great leadership exhibited on the committee since 2008. Prof. Guwatudde, who also happens to have been a member of the Grants Committee since its inception, also hailed the Dean for advocating for handing over to the younger generation and making sure it happens.

Article originally published on MakSPH website

Agriculture & Environment

Call for Papers – Makerere University Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (MUJAES)

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The walkway to the School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda as seen on 4th February 2009. East Africa

The Editorial Board, Makerere University Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (MUJAES), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is receiving manuscripts for consideration for Volume 13, Issue 1 2024 that will come out in June 2024 and Issue 2 slated for December 2024. Manuscripts should be sent to mujaes.caes@mak.ac.ug. For details on MUJAES and guidelines for submission of manuscripts, visit: https://mujaes.mak.ac.ug/. Manuscripts to be considered for publication in MUJAES should be based on original research findings.

For any inquiries, contact; Dr Jeninah Karungi-Tumutegyereize, Editor, MUJAES. Email – jtumutegyereize@gmail.com.

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Agriculture & Environment

CoSTClim – NORPART Call for Applications for Masters Student Mobility to Norway 2024

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Makerere University (MAK) in collaboration with Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) and Regional Universities Forum (for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) are implementing a five-year CoSTClim project (Collaborative Action for Strengthening Training Capacities in Climate Risk and Natural Resource management). The main goal of the project is to improve the quality of training, education and research at the partner institutions with a dedicated focus on climate risk, disaster risk management and natural resource management. CoSTClim builds on a range of other capacity development projects funded by the Norwegian Government at the partner institutions, and has a specific focus on education.

One of the components of CoSTClim is student mobility from Uganda to Norway and from Norway to Uganda. Therefore, we are inviting applicants from Makerere University for Masters student mobility scholarships to NTNU for the Autumn semester in 2024. There are five mobility scholarship slots available for this year. The scholarship will cover 5 months (August-December 2024) stay at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway. The successful candidates can enroll in selected course units at NTNU as well as leveraging the stay to write their master’s thesis. The width and breadth of available course units from which the candidates can select are found: https://www.ntnu.edu/geography/exchange-students

Limited research supervision will also be given by NTNU staff but the primary supervision responsibility stays with the allocated supervisors at Makerere University or Uganda Martyrs University.

Eligibility and requirements for the mobility applicants
a) The applicant should be a fully registered student in a relevant Masters programme at
Makerere University or Uganda Martyrs University, which aligns to the CostClim
thematic focus area.
b) The focus of the research of the applicant should align strongly to climate risk, disaster
risk management, natural resource management or agriculture.
c) The applicant should be progressing well on the masters programme and within the
stated duration of the programme (2-3years).

Application procedure
Interested and eligible Masters students should send the following;
a) A one page application letter
b) A motivation statement and plan for the time at NTNU (1-2 pages)
c) A letter from the Head of Department attesting to your registration, study status and
progress on your programme.
d) Copies of your undergraduate transcript and partial transcript or HOD endorsed
results for your current studies.
Application with all the required documents should be submitted by email to the contacts
below in one message.

  1. Yazidhi Bamutaze (for applicants from MAK)- yazidhibamutaze@gmail.com
  2. Runyararo Jolyn Rukarwa – r.rukarwa@ruforum.org
  3. Charlotte Nakakawa Jjunju – charlotte.jjunju@ntnu.no
  4. Joseph Sekandi sekjoseph@gmail.com
    Short listed applicants will be invited to complete educational procedures at NTNU under the
    exchange arrangement. A scholarship

The application deadline is Thursday 29th February 2024.

For further details, kindly download the document by following this link.

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Health

Prof. Wanyenze Honored with Mak Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award for 2023

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Hon. Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo (Centre) who represented the Minister of Education and Sports Hon. Janet Museveni presents the Vice Chancellor's Research Excellence Award to Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze (Left) as the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara (Right) witnesses on 29th January 2024. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 1, 29th January 2024, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor and Dean, School of Public Health, Makerere University has on the occasion of the #Mak74thGrad been awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Research excellence award of Makerere University.

The meritorious award was in recognition for her prolific publication record and outstanding contribution to Makerere University’s scholarly excellence.

According to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, as a result of the various partnerships forged over time, Makerere University’s research output in terms of innovations and publications is on the increase. He said he introduced the inaugural Makerere University Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards, in recognition of outstanding performers in research and publication.

They are based on the highest number of publications between the year 2017 and 2023 according to the Scopus database.

“I am happy to announce Professor Moses Robert Kamya and Professor Rhoda Wanyenze as the Best Overall Male and Female Researchers respectively,” Professor Nawangwe said.

Professor Moses Robert Kamya (Right) and Professor Rhoda Wanyenze (Left) the Best Overall Male and Female Researchers at Makerere University respectively showcase their plaques. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 1, 29th January 2024, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Professor Moses Robert Kamya (Right) and Professor Rhoda Wanyenze (Left) the Best Overall Male and Female Researchers at Makerere University respectively showcase their plaques.

“I urge all our staff to continue conducting research on national development priorities as well as matters of global interest and publishing their work in high-impact journals so as contribute to our drive to become a research-led university,” he said.

Adding that, the research conducted by the academics should lead to patents, copyrights and trademarks, and tangible innovations in the form of products, policy briefs, manuals and others.

The Vice Chancellor equally congratulated the five researchers from each of the ten (10) colleges and Makerere University Library, who were recognized as the best researchers. The detailed list of the best researchers has been published in the Graduation Booklet and the Mak News Magazine.

Photo moment: The awardees in a group photo with Hon. Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo, State Minister for Higher Education (6th Right), Council members, the Chancellor and the recipients of Honorary Doctorates during the #Mak74thGrad. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 1, 29th January 2024, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Photo moment: The awardees in a group photo with Hon. Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo, State Minister for Higher Education (6th Right), Council members, the Chancellor and the recipients of Honorary Doctorates during the #Mak74thGrad.

Professor Wanyenze is medical doctor, a disease control professor, researcher and public health with expert extensive experience in infectious diseases research, program management, and capacity building, particularly in HIV and TB, Prof. Wanyenze has conducted numerous studies in maternal and child health.

She is also actively involved in public health policy leadership in Uganda, she holds positions on various technical committees of the Ministry of Health and other agencies, as well as boards of several organizations. She co-chairs the working group for CESH alongside Professor Tobias Alfvén from the Karolinska Institute.

The MakSPH family congratulate her on her recognition as Best overall Researcher (Female) School of Public Health Makerere University #Mak74thGrad

View on MakSPH

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