Abdullahi Osman has been working in the field of epidemiology since 2004. His academic career in science started in January 2003 when he was admitted to an inaugural class of epidemiology to pursue an MSc degree at Jomo Kenyatta University, Kenya. The focus of the course was basic epidemiology and biostatistics and his thesis was on nasopharyngeal carriage of pneumococcus among adults and children in Kilifi District. Soon after, he was awarded a Wellcome Trust PhD studentship at the Open University in the UK. His PhD research project focused on generating baseline data to be used for the evaluation of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in Kenya. This project was the largest and most intensely sampled dataset for estimating basic parameters of pneumococcal acquisition, clearance and competition. In particular, the aims of the project were to measure directly the prevalence and rates of clearance and indirectly model rates of acquisition of pneumococcus by serotype using these two parameters.
At the end of his PhD training, he was awarded a competitive Post-doctoral international fellowship at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), US, to pursue a research career in molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). He spent one year at Harvard University to gain molecular skills and training in the genetic manipulation of MTB and then transferred those skills to the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), Durban South Africa to undertake a study of clinical MTB isolates. His project at AHRI assessed recurrent tuberculosis, specifically examining the population of bacteria in the initial and relapsed sputum for evidence of mixed infected/clonal heterogeneity using quantitative PCR and whole genome sequencing techniques to identify very small sub-dominant populations.
Osman is currently a lecturer and Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Pwani University, Kilifi, Kenya. His main roles are teaching and supervision/mentoring at both undergraduates and post-graduates levels and leading research. He is also a honourary research scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP). In recognition of the limited basic knowledge and ongoing research within Kilifi County, Osman pioneered the tuberculosis research programme known as “Pwani University Tuberculosis Research Programme” in 2015. To date, it has attracted a team of researchers with a strong background and passion in many aspects of TB and collaboration with other research institutions within and outside Kenya. The main themes are Burden of Disease (Epidemiology); TB and Health Systems Strengthening (Operational research) and Modes of MTB Transmission (Molecular and Geospatial analysis).