The center’s vision is to promote evidence-based research to help find solutions to local and regional health problems with a global scope. The center also intends to improve teaching activities by providing an internship framework for students as well as research space and structured mentoring for graduate students (master’s and doctoral projects).

Lines of research

The center is opened to different types of research ranging from basic sciences to clinical research, operational research, implementation science and research synthesis to inform policy, emphasizing specificities to tropical settings. The following areas are considered priorities: (i) communicable diseases, (ii) non-communicable diseases, (iii) their interaction and (iv) a transversal domain, the socio-anthropology approach to understand how communities interpret health phenomena and what motivate their behavior.

– Communicable diseases

This first line focuses on research in various fields of infectious diseases as seen in the tropical region (Malaria, cholera, Tuberculosis, HIV, Hemorrhagic fever, COVID-19, etc). It includes the study of pathogens, vectors and potential reservoirs as well as the host response. A particular focus is being developed for the study of zoonosis in a One Health approach, a human-animal-environment interface. We also focus on implementing infection and prevention control units in health structures.

– Non-communicable diseases

This second line deals with research questions related to chronic and degenerative diseases, nutritional pathologies and their links with other health conditions. Here, studies investigate the interactions between both communicable and non-communicable diseases and their impacts on the quality of life. We also focus on the risk attributable of emerging risk factors such as air pollution on the current burden of the aforementioned diseases.

* The Center harbors a Mycobacteriology unit where molecular techniques are used to detect multidrug resistant tuberculosis for the first and second lines regimens (Hain Test) and on the way to implement Thin Layer Agar (TLA) for mycobacterial culture in a Biosafety level 2 (BSL2) laboratory. This work is done in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis program of the DRC. A PhD student is carrying out this project and will soon be joined by a master student who will work on a subset of the project. The implementation of the TLA technique will be funded partly by the Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp. The project will also map the MDR strains circulating in the Great Lake region in collaboration with the Rwanda Biomedical Center.  The PhD student is partly funded by Ghent University.
* Research activities are being implemented to study specificities of tuberculosis among artisanal miners, and also looking at the impact of household air pollution on the clinical evolution of patients with tuberculosis and HIV-infection.
* Another active unit focuses its research work on Cholera and other enteric pathogens. It is about to start an RCT to study the best way to prevent secondary infections from a household with a confirmed case. This work is being done in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University with a grant from the Wellcome Trust.
* In line with the surveillance of arboviruses, a master student is currently looking at antibodies anti-Dengue in sera collected from the region. This work brings together researchers from UCB and their colleagues from the University of Nairobi.
* Currently, the surveillance of some zoonosis includes the screening of mycobacteria (tuberculosis complex and non-tuberculosis) among human and non-human primates, antibodies anti Leptospira spp, and those anti SARS Cov-2 (COVID-19).
* The Center hosts the provincial laboratory for molecular diagnosis of SARS-Cov-2 under the Ministry of health and actively contributes to the national and regional response to the on-going pandemic.
* Regarding the diagnosis of malaria during pregnancy, researchers from UCB and their colleagues from the University of Nairobi are assessing the performances of histine rich protein 2 (HRP2) based rapid diagnostic test against polymerase chain reaction during pregnancy in South Kivu
* In collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the African Research Collaboration on Sepsis, the center is participating along with ten other African countries in the BASIS project to determine the baseline incidence of sepsis in Africa.
* Regarding the interaction “Infection-Nutrition”, following research done for his PhD on the same topic, a postdoc fellow is working on the effect of malaria and micronutrients status (iron, zinc, vitamin A) on anemia among preschool children and women of childbearing age.
* With the Center for Global Health at the University of Colorado, a collaboration is about to start for the assessment of serologic tests currently being used in Bukavu
* Working with Glyconics, a British society specialized in diagnostics innovation, researchers from UCB will test in the field the prototype of a pioneer portable machine to diagnose diabetes at a low cost and without collecting blood sample
* Another project will soon bring together UCB & Johns Hopkins University to study determinants of acceptance by people in Bukavu of public health & social measures introduced by the Government of the DRC against COVID-19 pandemic.

Esto Bahizire, MD, MPH, PhD

Co-founder and Director

Dr. Bahizire is a medical doctor trained in Medical Microbiology (Univ. of Nairobi) and in Epidemiology-Public Health (Free Univ. of Brussels) and has more than 10 years of experience in research and teaching. He also has experience outside academia as a clinician and a public health practitioner and project manager supporting primary health care projects working in national and international organizations in collaboration with the Ministry of health. He is currently leading the Center for Tropical Diseases and Global Health at the Catholic University of Bukavu.

Fields of Research

* Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Epidemiology
* Micronutrient, Maternal and Child Global Health

Contact

esto.bahizire@ucbukavu.ac.cd

Patrick de Marie Katoto, MD, Msc, PhD

Co-founder and Co-director

Patrick Katoto is a clinician, vaccinologist, epidemiologist, and global health expert with more than a decade of working experience as a clinician, academic, and advisor for multiple public and private health agencies. He has worked on various projects of global health concern and produced evidence to inform decision making to address HIV, tuberculosis, vaccine uptake, non-communicable diseases, and household air pollution in resource-limited settings. He is co-investigator of the Baseline African Sepsis Incidence Survey (Liverpool school of tropical medicine) and of the StatinTB trial (University of Cape Town), a proof-of-concept study to reduce post-tuberculosis lung diseases. He teaches on the course on Globalization and Sustainable Development at the University of Hasselt, Belgium and at the pan African thoracic society (Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research across Africa). He held a Fogarty Fellow (HIV research training program in LMICs) by the university of Pittsburgh and Stellenbosch University and he is consultant at the Cochrane South Africa, at the South Africa Medical Research Council on project related to vaccine implementation and serves as academic and associated editor for PLOS Global Public Health and Pan African Medical Journal respectively.

Fields of Research

* COVID-19 and other Vaccine Preventable Diseases and, vaccine uptake and effectiveness
* Epidemiology and management of sepsis as seen in low- and middle-income countries and Infection Prevention and Control
* HIV/AIDS-cardiovascular diseases: pulmonary hypertension/ metabolic syndrome
* Tuberculosis and Post-tuberculosis cardiorespiratory diseases
* Health effects of air pollution, Hallmarks of earlier cellular senescence (telomere length and mtDNA) and health outcomes
*Research methodology, Clinical Trial and Evidence to Inform Decision Making (Systematic reviews, Clinical guidelines development, GRADEpro)

Contact

katoto.chimusa@ucbukavu.ac.cd

Tony Shindano Akilimali, MD, PhD

Co-founder

Tony B. Shindano Akilimali is a medical graduate of the Catholic University of Bukavu (UCB), trained in Hepatology and Gastroenterology at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), in Morocco (Mohamed V University) and Italy (Università Cattolica del SacroCuore).

He currently works as a Gastroenterology Consultant, a Professor of medicine and a Researcher (UCB). His areas of interest are liver diseases (optimization of prevention and management of viral hepatitis, prevention of NASH) as well as Helicobacter pylori infection and related complications. He is a member of several scientific societies including the Congolese Society of Gastroenterology and the Sub-Sahara African Hepatitis C Network.

Contact

shindano.akilimali@ucbukavu.ac.cd

Marius Baguma, MD, MMed, PhD

Co-founder

Marius Baguma is a medical doctor, specialist in Internal medicine (UCB, D.R.C.) and holder of a medical partial specialized master in Neurology (UCLouvain, Belgium) and of a PhD degree in Biomedical Sciences/Neuroscience (UHasselt, Belgium). He works as a lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine of the Université Catholique de Bukavu (UCB) and is the Head of the Neurology Ward in the Department of Internal Medicine of the Hôpital Provincial Général de Référence de Bukavu (HPGRB), in Bukavu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.). His current research interests are mainly focused on non-communicable and neurological diseases, with a particular emphasis on the neurovascular and neurotoxicological diseases. His current projects are about 1) the characterization of the epidemiological, clinical, and prognostic profile of stroke patients in the sub-Saharan Africa, especially in South-Kivu, an eastern province of the DRC, and 2) a better understanding of the determinants, risk factors, and etiopathogenesis of konzo, a tropical toxico-nutritional neurological disease characterized by a non-progressive symmetric spastic paraparesis of sudden-onset.

Fields of Research

* Neurosciences
* Tropical neuro-epidemiology
* Neuro-toxicology

Contact

baguma.akonkwa@ucbukavu.ac.cd

Espoir Bwenge Malembaka, MD, MPH, PhD

Co-founder

Espoir Bwenge Malembaka graduated in Medicine from the Université Catholique de Bukavu (UCB), trained in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Makerere University in Ugand a, and earned a PhD in public health from the University of Louvain in Belgium. While working at the UCB, he played a key role in the design and conduct of field epidemiological studies in conflict and post-conflict settings of the DRC. Espoir is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University, working as the DRC country supervisor of a research project aiming to assess the impact of mass oral cholera vaccination campaigns on cholera incidence and transmission dynamics in eastern DRC.

Fields of Research

* Vaccine preventable diseases
* Humanitarian health

Contact

bwenge.malembaka@ucbukavu.ac.cd

Patrick Musole Bugeme, MD

Researcher

Patrick Musole Bugeme is a research officer at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he works as a research data coordinator of a research project aiming to assess the impact of mass oral cholera vaccination campaigns on cholera incidence and transmission dynamics in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He obtained his medical degree from the Université Catholique de Bukavu (UCB) in 2021. During his medical training at the UCB, Patrick oversaw a scientific research group for students and played a key role in the design and conduct of student-led research projects. Within the CTDGH, Dr Musole works with other group members on vaccines hesitancy in Eastern DRC.

Fields of Research

* Infectious diseases
* Non-communicable diseases and global health

Contact

pbugeme1@jhmi.edu