Dr Anthony Afum-Adjei Awuah
Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR), Ghana
Why fix when you can prevent; towards TB Vaccines Research in Ghana
The vast majority of people living in the world are exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), the causative organism for TB leading to significant morbidity and Mortality. The current vaccine in use, BCG is not effective in adults although routinely given at birth. There is therefore the need to find an alternative effective vaccine. There is a notable lack of critical mass of scientists actively pursuing research in resource limited settings. This presents an important gap that may retrogress efforts in preclinical and clinical vaccine trials in these endemic areas. What I have done over the years is to remain in Ghana and commit to a training in TB immunology and vaccinology in general to equip me to pursue a career. I have taken advantage of unconventional multidisciplinary route spanning from immunology to clinical research to build the necessary competence. Our previous work has tried to elucidate otherwise unknown components of the immune response and candidates involved in immune modulation leading to evasion of appropriate protective immune response to TB, biomarkers and novel and improved diagnostics for TB. This has important impact on vaccine trials, design and efficacy. My training and experience is to put me in a position to integrate with a team involved in TB vaccine studies and to provide high quality scientific input towards such studies while translating capacity. I will be sharing my journey conducting TB immunology studies, working with hospitals and the national TB control program, training the hospital staff (over 1500 of them) and career plans to put to good use, the systems we are building to support clinical and implementation research in resource limited settings, especially Ghana in the area of TB immunology and vaccine studies.
Dr Anthony Afum-Adjei Awuah is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Global Health and Infectious Disease Research Group at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR) and a former WHO/TDR Clinical Research and Development Fellow.
Anthony started his career with a degree in Biochemistry and went on to do his PhD in Immunology, both at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). His PhD focused on miRNAs as immune modulatory molecules during TB infection. After his PhD, he started his first postdoc at KCCR where he developed means to improve the use of interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) to diagnose TB in children, he continued to do another postdoc training at Centre Muraz in Burkina through the West Africa Health Research Network where he trained in clinical research and worked with hidden population who are at a higher risk for HIV/AIDS. He won a grant to pursue the WHO/TDR clinical research and development fellowship in vaccinology and vaccine trials at the GSK vaccine s.r.l in Siena, Italy. He was part of the 2017 cohort of the Next Generation Scientist program to train young emerging scientists in clinical research at the headquarter of Novartis Pharma in Basel. He has extensive experience in conducting research in resource limited settings, scientific and research capacity development. He is part of the team that developed the Skills for Excellence in Science Series (SEXISS) that seeks to offer research competence training for health and biomedical professionals and scientists from LMICs, particularly Ghana. His research areas includes infectious diseases, immunology, vaccinology and clinical research. He hopes to establish a research group with core objective to study immune response and modulation to TB infection, evaluation of biomarkers, diagnostics and vaccine candidates for TB.