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Since its establishment as a biomedical research platform almost twenty years ago, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) has operated in this capacity and has since 2008 been established as the research arm of the College of Health Sciences at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana. KCCR has an excellent track record in the conduct of biomedical research in tropical medicine as evidenced by over three hundred publications, many of them in high impact journals. KCCR laboratories are well equipped with state-of-the-art equipment with support from BNITM for cutting-edge biomedical research. In 2011, KCCR was awarded Centre of Excellence for Applied Biomedical Research under the auspices of the African Network for Drug Discovery and Diagnostics (ANDI) / WHO / TDR and continues to serve as the WHO reference laboratory for Buruli ulcer diagnostics.
The existing biosafety level three (BSL3) laboratory has recently been upgraded to handle training of scientists in Ebola Virus Disease within the West African sub-region with funding from the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. In this regard, the following six countries benefited from the program: Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea and Mauritania. There are currently six research groups actively conducting cutting edge research in diverse biomedical fields addressing non-communicable diseases in the tropics (medicine in the tropics) group, tuberculosis, Buruli ulcer, ageing, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, paediatric fevers as well as viral zoonoses.
Projects on Buruli ulcer seek to identify biomarkers that predict early response to treatment and to understand oedematous disease and the influence of Mansonella perstans co-infection and doxycycline treatment on host immunity against mycobacterial disease and disease susceptibility in children and adolescents. The haematology group, funded by the University of Pittsburgh, examines the progressive deterioration in organ function with age and to identify genetic markers of specific organ dysfunction and end organ damage in sickle cell disease patients at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. Medicine in the tropics group examines a cohort of hypertensive and diabetes mellitus patients for clinical outcomes over a period five years. Other activities include assessing the burden of drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR/XDR TB) and immunological assays to diagnose tuberculosis in children. Studies on the genotypic prevalence of HPV infection among women in Kumasi and use of electronic health information and surveillance system to develop and evaluate a basic, symptom-oriented clinical algorithm at the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital have been completed. Medicine in the tropics group recently hosted the dissemination of findings of a multicentre project on obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) among migrant Ghanaian populations in Europe and their counterparts in rural and urban Ghana (RODAM) in Accra with major stakeholders from across Africa and Europe. Projects on filariasis examine a combination of ivermectin plus albendazole compared to ivermectin alone in the treatment of lymphatic filariasis. Other studies examine the use of SNPs as biomarkers for identifying persons at greater risk of developing filariasis. The virology and zoonoses group examine the biology and ecology of bats and human determinants as possible factors for disease transmission. The paediatric fevers group examines different causes of fever in children with unknown causes of fever in selected populations in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
Meanwhile, the Clinical Department of BNITM has several projects, mainly with partners from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Kumasi. The Child Development Study (CDS) is to look into the impact of infectious diseases, e.g. malaria and worm infestations, in affecting child development. Other programs centred on co-infections of HIV positive patients. The ESTHER (Ensemble pour une Solidarité Therapeutique Hospitalière – En Reseau) partnership between KATH, BNITM and the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf aimed at the improvement of medical care for patients with HIV and tuberculosis.
The Typhoid in sub-Saharan Africa Project (TSAP), which aimed to characterize potential causes of febrile illness other than malaria in children with the aim of quantifying the effect of a typhoid vaccine in the population under study, was completed and is at present evaluating the disease burden and cost of illness of typhoid fever in Africa with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the International Vaccine Initiative (IVI) which is coordinating the programme.
In the course of last year, the centre commenced accreditation for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) diagnostics and is spearheading training of scientists in some selected francophone countries within West Africa with support from the German government. Having plans to build a critical mass of scientists, the centre has recently cut sod for the construction of state-of-the-art cool house for the creation of biorepository for teaching and research with funding from the Volkswagen (VW) Foundation.
To date, twelve PhDs and over thirty MPhil students have completed their thesis work while twenty five others (eleven PhDs and fourteen MSc/MPhil students) currently pursuing different programs within the University. KCCR plays host to several skills training programs for scientists and students such as Basic and advance statistics, Certificate Course in Tropical Medicine and Bioinformatics. KCCR works with the Office of Grants and Research at KNUST to organize skills and training to several young scientists in scientific writing and scientific proposal writing. Several life-science students have done their National Service and internships at KCCR from various institutions within and outside of Ghana.
The centre is grateful to the current and past funders such as BNITM (our most cherished partner), Brauns-Foundation, German Research Foundation (DFG), European Union, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Gilead Sciences, National Institutes of Health (NIH), LOYOLA University USA, Deutsche Lepra-und Tuberkulosehife (DAHW), Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Volkswagen Foundation, Federal Foreign Office of Germany, and the University of Pittsburgh.