Organisation: Partners

Focusing on acute infection studies

Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI)

South Africa 
Site Principle Investigator: Thumbi Ndung’u


The Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) is an independent, transdisciplinary scientific research institute based in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa.  It is SANTHE’s lead site and as such, the SANTHE Secretariat is based here and enjoys its full administrative support.

AHRI’s vision is optimal health and well-being of under-resourced populations. The organisation’s research combines population, basic and translational, social, and clinical sciences to understand and intervene in the health and well-being of South African communities.

AHRI works in partnership with local communities and South African academic, governmental, and other stakeholders, and prioritises training of the next generation of African scientists. AHRI also collaborates with over 60 institutions globally.

AHRI’s two campuses are in Somkhele and Durban. AHRI-Somkhele is in an under-resourced rural area of northern KZN. At its core is a health and demographic surveillance site, which aims to describe the demographic, social, and health impact of the HIV epidemic in a population going through a health transition, and to monitor the impact of intervention strategies on the epidemic. The HDSS incorporates an area of 845 km² and has followed >100,000 participants longitudinally for about 20 years. AHRI-Durban is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine. The institute’s basic and translational science programme is supported by superb laboratory infrastructure: the AHRI-Durban labs incorporate over 600m² of biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) space, and a South African National Accreditation System/ISO 15189 accredited clinical laboratory.

AHRI’s research is organised into four departments – population, basic and translational, social, and clinical sciences – and around four intersecting scientific content areas: HIV, TB, emergent or re-emergent infection, and adolescent mental health. AHRI’s 28 faculty members pursue their own research agendas within the institute’s broader strategy. Multiple scientific platforms and core business structures support AHRI’s research endeavours, including a data science unit, and a clinical trials unit.

Botswana Harvard Health Partnership (BHP)

Site Principle Investigator: Simani Gaseitsiwe


Botswana is on track to meet the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and the uptake for antiretroviral therapy (ART) is good in this country. There is therefore a need for competent monitoring of patients on ART especially with regards to HIV drug resistance prevalence and patterns that could affect ART success.

The Botswana Harvard Health Partnership (BHP) is a leading HIV/AIDS research, training, and capacity-building institution, headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana.

Established in 1996 as a collaboration between Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), BHP is now a world-class research and training centre with more than 300 scientists, students and staff members. The organisation partners with the Botswana government, universities around the world, the private sector, and civil society to design and deliver high-quality health research, training and practical interventions to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other major health challenges in Botswana and the region.

Striving to become a world-renowned public health institute, BHP’s mission is to fight HIV/AIDS and emerging public health challenges through innovative research, education and capacity building that impact policy and practice. All work that happens at the organisation is guided by the following key principles: beneficence; innovation; collaboration; excellence; and botho (a Setswana word that conveys integrity, respect, honesty, compassion and promoting the common good).

Through its clinical trials and community-based research, BHP has informed global HIV testing, treatment and prevention guidelines and is studying cancer and other chronic conditions. It has established nationwide birth outcomes surveillance that has become a global model. BHP scientists investigate HIV drug resistance and spread, potential approaches to HIV functional cure in newborns, and discovered the Omicron variant of SARS CoV2. BHP has also trained tens of thousands of healthcare workers and hundreds of students. BHP strives to continue to build research capacity and to conduct high-quality collaborative health research that is relevant in Botswana and the region.

BHP is also invested in evaluating novel treatments/interventions in an attempt to reduce or control HIV replication and induce ART-free remission (including bNAbs, latency-reversing agents, and therapeutic vaccines). BHP research is focused on: TB molecular epidemiology in Botswana and identifying possible biomarkers of infection and treatment outcomes; the impact of viral hepatitis infection on HIV disease and treatment outcome; risk factors for various NCDs in HIV infection versus controls; bioinformatics and big data including host genetic determinants of cancer, diabetes, disease progression and HIV acquisition.

Centre de Recherche sur les Maladies Emergentes et Reemergentes (CREMER)/Institut Médicales des Plantes Médicinales (IMPM)

Site Principle Investigator: Marcel Tongo Passo


The Centre de Recherche sur les Maladies Emergentes et Re-emergentes or Centre for Research on Emerging and Re-Emerging Diseases (CREMER) is one of the specialised centres of the Institute of Medical Research and Study of Medicinal plants (IMPM). It operates under the authority of the Ministry of Scientific Research and is located within the Congo Basin (CB) in Yaoundé Cameroon and comprises a laboratory for studies on emerging and re-emerging viral diseases, an environmental and animal health laboratory, and a laboratory for studies on emerging and re-emerging non-viral diseases.

Cameroon and other CB countries host a broad and highly diverse pool of circulating animal viruses. Some of these viruses such as HIV, Ebola and Yellow fever virus have at multiple times in the past been transmitted to humans and caused either local epidemics or global pandemics. HIV variants circulating in this diversity hot-spot might be the source of future global HIV-1 multi-drug resistant, cure, vaccine evasion or re-emergence events. Despite the public health importance of the CB’s emerging and re-emerging diseases, most current estimates of disease burdens there are based on an extreme paucity of scientific data. 

In general, CREMER is responsible for carrying out research on all emerging and re-emerging viral diseases in the interface of human/animal interaction. Notably, studies on the origin and emergence of HIV and other new viruses; studies on the genetic diversity and evolution of viruses and their consequences for serological and virological diagnosis. CREMER also conducts research on the virology and immunology determinants of SARS-CoV-2 infection. CREMER collaborates with other research centres in Yaoundé including the Centre Pasteur du Cameroun (CPC), the Centre International de Référence “Chantal BIYA” (CIRCB) and the University of Yaounde 1. The purpose of this collaboration is to deepen the knowledge of other emerging and re-emerging non-viral diseases; and to better understand the molecular epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) infection in the country.

Collaborative Clinical Research Centre (CCRC)

Site Principle Investigator: Jonathan Matenga

The Collaborative Clinical Research Centre (CCRC) is situated at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe there is a high prevalence of people living with HIV (PLH) on antiretroviral treatment (ART), increased longevity of PLH, and high prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors among PLH even when virally suppressed as a result of chronic inflammation. There is also a high prevalence of sub-clinical CVD predisposing to stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, and adolescents/adults living with HIV presenting with pulmonary hypertension (PHT) and outcomes are often poor. 

The CCRC has observed metabolic bone disease as a cause of morbidity in PLH especially women and has therefore identified the following priority research areas: Cardiovascular complications in PLH (screening, management and prevention, assessment of burden of CVD, and pulmonary hypertension/right heart failure); Metabolic bone disease/bone health among PLH; and AIDS related cancers and non-AIDS related cancers; renal disease and hepatic disease in PLH.

KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP)

Site Principle Investigators: Eduard Sanders & Eunice Nduati


The KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) is based within the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Centre for Geographic Medical Research – (Coast). KWTRP conducts integrated epidemiological, social, laboratory and clinical research in parallel, with results feeding into local and international health policy. Its research platforms include state-of-the-art laboratories, a demographic surveillance system covering a quarter of a million residents, partnership with Kilifi County Hospital in health care and hospital surveillance, a clinical trials facility, a vibrant engagement programme and a dedicated training facility.

More specifically, KWTRP studies the HIV/STI epidemic among key populations, conducting research around the development of alternative strategies to support pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake and adherence, including an assessment of end-users preferences for long-acting PrEP and event-driven PrEP strategies. The programme conducts acute and early HIV infection research among men who have sex with men (MSM) and  transgender women (TGW) for optimal HIV prevention and treatment engagement. This work is conducted in a cohort study of 900 key populations in Kilifi, Nairobi, and Kisumu which has also attracted funding from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).

KWTRP’s vision is to conduct high quality, purposeful, and relevant research in human health, building sustainable research capacity and leadership. It’s mission is to undertake cutting-edge and novel research relevant to national, regional and global needs. Aims of the programme are to: conduct research to the highest international scientific and ethical standards on the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the region in order to provide the evidence base to improve health; and train an internationally competitive cadre of Kenyan and African research leaders to ensure the long term development of health research in Africa.

Rwanda Zambia Health Research Group (RZHRG)

Site Principle Investigator: William Kilembe


The Rwanda Zambia Health Research Group (RZHRG) comprises the Center for Family Health Research in Kigali, Rwanda (CFHR), Lusaka and Ndola, Zambia (CFHRZ) and Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. RZHRG has a multidisciplinary team that includes clinicians, epidemiologists, virologists, molecular biologists, data scientists, and project managers. 

The organisation’s 30 plus years of research has spanned basic science, epidemiology, clinical trials, and implementation projects The sites in Rwanda and Zambia have been at the forefront of research on HIV/AIDS, focusing on understanding the natural history and epidemiology of HIV, and determining the correlates of heterosexual transmission of HIV in the adult population and conduct of HIV prevention trials including Vaccine trials. All research activities have been/are being conducted in very close collaboration with the Ministries of Health and various local institutions, as well as different health care facilities throughout the counties. Both CFHR (Rwanda) and CFHRZ (Zambia) were the first institutions to ever conduct the first HIV vaccine trial in their respective countries; they are actively involved in building capacity for clinical research. Most recently, CFHR (Rwanda) expanded its focus of research beyond HIV to other important health issues impacting Rwandans, including malaria and Ebola virus disease. CFHRZ (Zambia) has also expanded its scope of work beyond HIV ie conduct of studies and vaccine clinical trials in COVID-19, Influenza  and Tuberculosis (TB).

Through a strong partnership with their respective Ministries of Health and other local stakeholders, senior staff members in Zambia are members of various technical working groups and are often involved in various training programmes for health care providers. Our expertise has been solicited mainly for HIV counseling and testing with couples, clinical management of HIV, and family planning training. The organisation also builds and enhances individual capacity building through training programmes at local or international colleges and universities.

Uganda-Case Research Collaboration (UCRC)

Site Principle Investigator: Harriet Mayanja-Kizza


The Uganda-Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Research Collaboration (UCRC) began in 1986 after a presidential invitation to the late Dr Frederick C. Robbins, CWRU Professor, and Nobel Laureate, to visit Uganda and assist with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Robbins’ vision of multi-disciplinary research collaboration on HIV/AIDS and its complications officially began with grant funding from the US National Institutes of Health in 1988. 

The UCRC has since then evolved into a multi-project, multi-disciplinary research organisation funded by US and European grants to investigators at Makerere University, Joint Clinical Research Centre and CWRU. From the beginning, the UCRC’s focus has been to build capacity and provide training through research on HIV/AIDS and TB and thereby improve care. The organisation’s diverse disciplines include epidemiology, biomedical sciences, clinical trials, nursing, anthropology and bioethics with recent expansions into biomedical engineering, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Training has been key with former trainees now in leadership positions in Ugandan ministries, universities, and NGOs. The UCRC is proud to have contributed to Uganda’s emergence as a leader in biomedical research and training.  Collaborative ties between Uganda and CWRU remain strong and continue to grow.

Management of latent MTB infection (LTBI) in TB endemic countries is one of the key activities of the World Health Organisation’s “End TB Strategy”. UCRC will focus on the following areas: improved detection of and treatment regimens for LTBI in both adults, children and high-risk communities; social science studies addressing the LTBI knowledge gap; TB transmission dynamics in settings such as markets and the feasibility and benefit of mass LTBI treatment in such populations.

SANTHE-affiliated sites include the main SANTHE partner institutes

  • Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI)/University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
  • Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP)
  • Centre de Recherche sur les Maladies Emergentes et Re-emergentes (CREMER)
  • Collaborative Clinical Research Centre (CCRC)
  • Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP)
  • Rwanda Zambia Health Research Group (RZHRG)
  • Uganda-Case Research Collaboration (UCRC))

And associated partners including:

  • Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA); KZN Research Innovation & Sequencing Platform (KRISP); and HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) – associated to AHRI & UKZN
  • University of Botswana – associated to BHP
  • Centre International de Référence – Chantal Biya – pour la recherche sur la prévention et la prise en charge du VIH/SIDA (CIRCB); Centre Pasteur du Cameroun (CPC); and University of Yaounde 1 – associated to CREMER
  • University of Zimbabwe – associated to CCRC
  • Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI)
  • Pwani University – associated to KWTRP
  • University of Zambia; University of Rwanda; and Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) – associated to RZHRG
  • Makerere University – associated to UCRC

SANTHE is an Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) flagship programme funded by the Science for Africa Foundation through the DELTAS Africa programme; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard.