The Department of Medical Microbiology has three major thematic units;
- Bacteriology and Mycology
This thematic unit covers both bacterial and fungal pathogens of medical importance to man. Teaching of these subjects includes classification of the bacterial and fungal micro-organisms, pathogenesis of diseases caused by them, their diagnosis, treatment and control. Each lecture is followed by practical sessions and demonstrations on the related topic. The main research areas that the unit has been involve in include tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, bacterial drug resistance and sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and chancroid. The unit also runs a diagnostic laboratory that can be accessed by both private and public medical practitioners.
This unit conducted studies in sexually transmitted infections in male patients presenting with urethral discharge at a sexually transmitted diseases clinic in Nairobi. The aim of the study was to determine if the current algorithm used in treating STIs is still adequate. In this regard, the study examined antimicrobial susceptibility patterns for Neisseria gonorrhea in particular. The study also looked at the prevalence of other commonly occurring sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma and Trichomonas vaginalis.
Another study conducted in the department by a PhD student looked at safety, acceptability and in vitro contraceptives studies of Unipron, a microbicide with the potential for preventing the transmission of STIs and HIV. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of UniPron gel on semen and sperm function in vitro by assessing semen pH, sperm motility and morphology. It also aimed at determining whether use of UniPron vaginal gel is associated with alteration of vaginal pH, vaginal flora, irritation of vaginal mucosal region including the cervix, changes in profiles of pro and anti-inflammatory markers of vaginal secretions and clinical chemistry parameters of liver and kidney functions when applied vaginally. The study was conducted on non-human primates at the Institute of Primate Research (IPR) in Nairobi.
In addition, the thematic unit of Bacteriology and Mycology has also been involved in a capacity building project where it offered training to laboratory personnel working in district hospitals in order to improve their diagnostic techniques for bacterial analysis.
Other research projects that have been conducted in the thematic unit by the master’s and PhD degree students include:
In vitro activities of antimicrobial agents against clinical and non-clinical enterococcal isolates at Kiambu District Hospital. This study aimed at determining the antibiotic susceptibility patterns of the enterococcal isolates, the distribution of enterococcal species in both clinical and non-clinical specimen, and to identify the probable antibiotic alternatives in enterococcal infection therapy. Faculty members include:
Dr. Fibi Odhiambo
Dr. Florence Mutua
Dr. Marianne Mureithi
Dr. Anne Maina
Ms Winnie Mutai
Ms Susan Odero
Some of the past prominent faculty members in this thematic unit include the Late Prof. Isaac Wamola and the late Prof. Jeckonia Ndinya-Achola
- Virology and Molecular Microbiology
The thematic unit of Virology and Molecular Biology deals with viral infections and the molecular techniques used for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. The main areas of research include HIV/AIDS, Herpes simplex virus and Hepatitis B infection. Faculty members teaching in this unit include:
Prof. Omu Anzala (who is also the Director of KAVI Institute for Clinical Research),
Dr. Julius Oyugi (who is also the Deputy Director of UNITID)
Dr. Dufton Mwaengo
Dr. Moses Masika
Some past prominent faculty members in this thematic unit include the late Prof. Job Bwayo.
- Parasitology and Medical Entomology
This thematic unit covers all aspects of parasitic diseases which form the bulk of neglected tropical diseases such as malaria, trypanosomiasis, malaria, schistosomiasis, filariasis, among others. Medical entomology deals with the insects of medical importance and their role in infection transmission. The main areas of research in this unit have covered malaria, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and loiasis.
- Surveillance for artemisinin clinical response and resistance in currently circulating P. falciparum isolates in Kenya and the role of RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain polymorphisms in artemisinin resistance. This study aims at determining the baseline artemisinin susceptibilities of the current circulating P. falciparum parasites in Kenya and exploring the role of the CTD polymorphisms in transcription dynamics observed in artemisinin resistant lab strains.
- Utility of circulating cathodic antigen in the diagnosis of urinary schistosomiasis. This study aims at examining if measuring circulating cathodic antigen in urine is a useful tool in the diagnosis of Schistosoma haematobium among school children and if the sensitivity and specificity of this test is influenced by the level of infection endemicity. The study is being conducted in two communities in Kirinyaga District, one with a high endemicity and the other with a low endemicity of Schistosoma haematobium infection
- A study of cryptosporidiosis, isosporidiosis and microsporidiosis among HIV/AIDS patients attending comprehensive care centres at Kenyatta National and Mbagathi District Hospitals in Nairobi, Kenya. This study aims at determining the prevalence of Cryptosporidium parvum, Isospora belli and Microsporidium spp. infections among these patients in relation to age, gender and socio-economic status
Dr. Gloria Omosa-Manyonyi
Medical entomology is covered by Dr. Dunstan Mukoko, an honorary lecturer who is a senior scientist in the Ministry of Health.
Some past prominent faculty members in this thematic unit include the late Prof. Hannington Pamba and Prof. Richard Knight.
Prof. Benson Estambale, the current Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation & Outreach) at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, is a faculty member in this unit but is on leave of absence.
Career opportunities in all thematic areas of medical microbiology are based in research institutions, public and private universities, other tertiary medical institutions, and private and public hospital laboratories.