Employing institution: Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Kenya)

Host institution: Imperial College London (UK)

Project title: Developing a digital diagnostic tool for surveillance and monitoring of waterborne pathogens for sub Saharan Africa.

Dr Anthony Sifuna is a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Medical Biochemistry at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), Kenya. His research includes understanding the role of the environment in transmission and maintenance of waterborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. He is also a member of the Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network, a consortium of researchers involved in developing and testing next generation diagnostic tools to mitigate the burden of infectious diseases in Africa.

AREF Fellowship Research Project:

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have weak infrastructure for waterborne pathogen surveillance and monitoring. Traditional culture methods (TCMs) for detection of these pathogens, take over five days for presumptive identification of bacteria, and in many settings the sensitivity for TCMs is quite low, leading to poor understanding of occurrence of these pathogens in community water sources.

Dr Sifuna’s objective is to develop an intelligent, real-time and on-site diagnostic tool for detection of waterborne pathogens, namely; Salmonella, Shigella, pathogenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholera. These microbes are important pathogens that are responsible for the majority of gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal infections in sub-Sahara Africa.

During his fellowship at Imperial College London, Dr Sifuna will work under the guidance of Dr Jesus Rodriguez Manzano in development of molecular assays for the Lacewing diagnostic platform. He will undertake training in digital diagnostics, developing loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays targeting Salmonella, Shigella, pathogenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholera. On returning to MMUST, he will train faculty members, researchers and water resource managers in LAMP technology.

“The placement will help me to meet my long-term goal of improving surveillance and monitoring of waterborne bacterial pathogens in Africa.”