Research’s Role in Disease Elimination: My Experience at TFGH, Alumni Blog

Henry Emisiko is an alum of the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program. In this blog, Henry reflects on his fellowship placement and how it has positioned him as leader in the space. 

As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I offered technical support in neglected tropical disease (NTD) control efforts in Kenya and beyond. Through The Task Force for Global Health, I was thrilled to be placed at a leading research center in Kenya, The Eastern and Southern Africa Centre for International Parasite Control (ESACIPAC), situated at the Kenya Medical Research Institute-KEMRI.

Given that I had pursued a career in research science, it was fulfilling to get a chance to apply the techniques that I had learned. A leading center in capacity building and training, ESACIPAC offered me a unique and unmatched opportunity to diversify my skills.

From vector control to school-based de-worming programs, I have gained a unique perspective on the various approaches and interventions needed to achieve NTD elimination.  Not only am I involved in diagnostics with real human samples and troubleshooting the development of new diagnostic techniques, but I am also involved in other NTD projects at the laboratory level such as environmental surveillance of Soil Transmitted Helminthes (STH) and monthly meetings in which the center reviews new research proposals spanning all aspects of NTD control.

At the laboratory level, I am working with a team of experts from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a supportive team of scientists and technologists to analyze over 50,000 samples in the Onchocersiasis study from countries including Burundi, Malawi, and Kenya. We are carrying out the OV16 SD and AP ELISA for Onchocersiasis and the Biplex RDT tests for both Onchocersiasis and Lymphatic filariasis. Logistical planning and communication is key in the handling of samples at different stages entailing sample tracking, sorting, storage, retrieval and result data management. As the first major study to attempt mapping of these two diseases in the region, we were responsible for scaling-up and optimizing these procedures for large-scale diagnostics.

From testing 40 to 200 samples per day to eventually becoming responsible for communicating with collaborators and maintaining data, I have grown throughout my time on this project. As an experienced member of the lab, I am involved in orienting and training students on testing techniques and good lab practice.

Additionally, thanks to training received from the Hilton Prize Coalition on project management, our collaborators from the CDC enlisted me to train a group of technologists from Ethiopia on these techniques. Altogether, this experience has allowed me to grow as a leader and prepared me for future work as a technologist and trainer.

Throughout my fellowship, I have developed at a personal and career level and learnt the expectations and responsibilities entailed in such a work environment. With the supportive team and pool of mentors, I have been able to expand my scientific knowledge and research skills. I feel challenged to work even harder and handle even larger research projects.

To conclude I am very grateful to the Hilton prize Coalition, Task Force for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and KEMRI-ESACIPAC for the opportunity to learn and work in the field of research.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. The Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat,  Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit  prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact  prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and  LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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