The Uganda Schistosomiasis Multidisciplinary Research Center (U-SMRC) has been established to build expertise and understanding of the underlying biological determinants of severe schistosomal morbidity and to develop and identify appropriate interventions for prevention and management of this important disease.



To compare early-life Schistosoma mansoni (Sm) infection and Sm-specific immune responses between Lake Albert (LA) and Lake Victoria (LV) regions and identify co-exposures that modulate Sm-specific immune responses and morbidity risk.



The Uganda Schistosomiasis Multi-Disciplinary Research Center (U-SMRC) maps households in Buhuka

A perspective of a project officer In the pursuit of our second phase, after having pinpointed the communities to engage with, the next crucial stride involved delving into the very households from which our participants would be randomly chosen. Under the guidance of the esteemed Dr. Joseph Baluku, our team embarked on a lengthy journey to Hoima, a journey that led us through the enchanting Bugoma Forest all the way to Kyangwali. This adventure commenced with a warm welcome from Rev. Father Rupire Isingoma at the serene Mary Immaculate Guest House, providing a much-needed respite from the fatigue wrought by the extended drive. Our workweek commenced on a delectable note, with a sumptuous breakfast at the charming Libore Hotel, conveniently situated across from the guest house. The charismatic leader of our team orchestrated a meeting that convened minds to strategize the approach for the four chosen villages within Buhuka. This preparation involved the careful arrangement of logistics, including notebooks, rulers, tablets, and pens – all of which proved invaluable in facilitating the upcoming endeavors. The path before us led down the escarpment, and before venturing further, we made our inaugural stop at Buhuka Health Centre III. Here, we introduced ourselves to Mr. Innocent Ahaisibwe, the Health Centre In-charge, who graciously reached out to the Village Health Teams (VHTs) tasked with guiding us through the intricate maze of households. Yet, fate had it that most of these diligent individuals were engrossed in the Yellow Fever Mass Immunization campaign upon our arrival, causing a minor wrinkle in our plans. Gratitude washed over us when we discovered that one of our target villages, Kiina, had already been confirmed the previous day. With our guide from the VHT, we embarked on a journey through Kiina, a village characterized by its sparse population and abundant vegetation, ideal for free-ranging cattle. As we traversed the village, our eyes were captivated by the sight of robust cattle grazing amidst the verdant shrubbery. Our journey led us to the Local Council (LC) Offices, where we were cordially welcomed by the chairperson. Here, we gleaned valuable statistics and records pertaining to the village, a trove of information that enabled us to pinpoint households housing children aged one to four – our specific focus group for this phase. In the initial days at Kiina, we moved as a united front, acquainting ourselves with the intricate mapping tools and cultivating a sense of unity and purpose. As the week unfolded, we divided into two cohorts, each led by the astute Dr. Joseph Baluku and the capable Mr. Robert Kizindo. The sun, bearing down over Lake Albert, provided a vivid reminder of the saying, "The higher you go, the cooler it becomes," offering a quirky twist as it seemed to get hotter the further we descended the escarpments. Kicking off the second week was no small feat, as our energy waned, but true to the adage, where there's a will, there's a way. Following a hearty breakfast at the renowned Libore Hotel, we strategized our approach for Nyalebe, our second focal village. Situated at the far end of the Lake Albert shoreline, Nyalebe's remote location was matched only by the daunting journey that led to it, complete with steep gullies that tested the mettle of even the toughest travelers. Nyalebe presented a striking contrast to Kiina, seemingly devoid of bustling activity or economic pursuits. The calmness of this community, surviving without the usual hustle and bustle, left us in a state of awe. Unlike Kiina, Nyalebe lacked up-to-date village registers, necessitating a door-to-door exploration to identify children within our desired age range. With the guidance of two diligent VHTs, we navigated this intricate task, albeit with added complexity compared to our earlier venture. As the week culminated, our team carved out a moment to capture the breathtaking scenery of Lake Albert from the vantage point of the Buhuka escarpment. Regrettably, my expedition concluded at this juncture, my journey back to Kampala aboard the renowned Link Bus calling for my departure. Alas, my experience with the Link Bus was less than favorable, as the drivers' audacious driving tendencies left much to be desired! In light of our observations, U-SMRC is poised to fulfill the target population sample size for our comparative research study.

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PhD Fellows and staff Receive Essential Training

PhD Fellows and staff Receive Essential Training on Good Clinical Practice, Good Clinical Laboratory Practice and General Data Protection Regulation Compliance Our research objective is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the biological drivers of severe schistosomal morbidity. Through partnerships with notable scientific research institutions as well as renowned academic institutions, we strive to support the conduct of interventions that equip scientists with skills to apply the best practices in research both in the laboratories as well as in communities. In the past month some of our key partners have rolled out engaging activities, in this regard, including training workshops. At the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, two comprehensive training sessions on Good Clinical Practice (GCP), Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) were conducted for early to mid-career researchers which included our PhD fellows and staff. Read about the trainings below;

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Unravelling the Thrilling Tale of Schistosomiasis in Uganda’s Magnificent Great Lakes

  The Schistosomiasis Center based at the Uganda Virus Research Institute is setting out to discover why schistosomiasis disease commonly known as Bilharzia is a bigger problem for people living around Lake Albert and the Albert Nile than for people living on the shores of Lake Victoria – despite the parasitic worms being very common in, and heavily infecting people in both places. Our researchers seek to understand the relationship between aspects of the environment, the people, the worms, or the snails which carry the infection, and how this could be making the difference. Led by our experienced mentors and colleagues, Dr Narcis Kabatereine and Mr David Oguttu, we set out to identify communities that fit the research criteria. We needed willing participants affected by the parasites, without previous and current involvement in other research projects, and accessible to the necessary accommodations and laboratory facilities. The team set off on the long drive to Hoima, situated in the green lands at the top of the Western Rift Valley escarpment, and then dropped down to Lake Albert to visit villages on the lakeshore. First stop was Buliisa and the schistosomiasis research camp established there for decades of research of the deadly disease. But here, no go – the villages that once thrived had been flooded out by dramatic rises in water levels over the last few years. Where busy communities flourished, and even a new road was built at Butiaba, now only drowned palm trees and the shells of shops and homes remain. We made our way back up the hill to Hoima, looking forward to a cool night and wondering what day two of our expedition would hold. With renewed vigour, we embarked on a long drive through forests of Kikuube District to the steep escarpment edge overlooking Buhuka.  Here, there is oil work – a testament to modern progress. However, rises in water levels have still forced the villages to move, although the escarpment has restricted the distance and they remain close along the shore. The Buhuka Health Centre team shared great concern about the serious cases they see and welcomed the team to establish their laboratory there. Village Health Team members introduced the team to local council members and the project was welcomed. Buhuka was chosen as the Lake Albert center, and the team found comfortable accommodation in nearby Kyangwali. The journey did not end there. Heading back to Kampala and then to the eastern side of Lake Victoria, towards the Kenyan border, we encountered a different landscape. Here we found a different scene – luxuriant farmland, small hills, many islands – perhaps the island of Sigulu will be a good place to work? But on Sigulu, many fishermen have left because of fishing regulations intended to preserve stocks and prevent overfishing of young fish.  Sigulu Island deserted fishing community But back to the mainland and visits to lakeshore communities offered the opportunities we need.  Roads were treacherous in the rainy conditions but our driver was heroic!  A base at Namayingo town and the Health Centre there will allow the team to work with daily trips to four fishing communities on the Lake Victoria shores.  

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Welcome to the Career Development section of our website, where we are excited to showcase the diverse and impactful projects undertaken by our talented PhD fellows.
In this section, we provide a glimpse into the cutting-edge research our PhD fellows are engaged in, highlighting their innovative ideas, and the potential implications of their work.