2013: University of Leicester, 2004 – 2008: Moi University, 1999 – 2002: Kanga High School, 1997 – 1998: St. Patricia Memorial Academy, 1992 – 1996: Rongo Primary School, 1990 – 1991: Garissa Primary School
M.Sc. Bioinformatics, B.Sc. Biochemistry
2011- present: Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, 2010: Europa Healthcare Limited, 2008 – 2009: Kuja Special Secondary School for the Deaf
Bioinformatics Research Assistant
Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
Favourite thing to do in my job: Reading, programming and gene/genome sequencing
Genetic and evolutionary diversity of viruses.
My work focuses on respiratory viruses that cause disease in young children. One such virus, that I study, is the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) that causes about 85, 000 Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI) in infants in Kenya alone! A number of these children die. If you add infections from other viruses such as human coronavirus, adenovirus, etc, the numbers rise exponentially.
Unfortunately for many viruses, there are no vaccines. This is because viruses change very fast therefore even when the immune system develops “memory” to a particular type/strain, the virus will have changed enough to escape immune detection and cause infection. The changes are detectable from the genetic material (RNA/DNA) of the virus.
My work is to characterize the changes in these viruses over time, aiming to detect patterns of change that could be used to develop future vaccines against these viruses. I use both laboratory molecular (gene/genome sequencing) as well as computational/bioinformatics methods.
My Typical Day
Starts at 6am till 11pm and involves reading, writing and data analysis.
I wake up at 6am. I do some physical exercise till around 6:45 then shower. Breakfast is at 7am, after which I leave for work at 7:30am. The first thing I do, 8am, is to check e-mails and respond to them, catch up with news online and social media. I get to the science at 9am, check for new research papers in my area to read. Lunch is between 12:30-2pm. However, on some days we have journal clubs (1-2pm) where we discuss research papers so lunch has to be quick! Afternoons are best with computational analyses till around 5:30pm. I get home around 6pm, could do a few exercises, have dinner at 7pm then watch a movie/news or continue with work depending on workload.
What I'd do with the money
Organise science demonstrations
Personally, I grasp scientific concepts faster and remember them better if I learn them visually or practically, e.g. watching someone (or I) do it in the lab or on a youtube video. I have been a teacher before and have proved this to work best.
If I do win the money, which I will, I’d love to hold scientific demonstrations either at our labs at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, Kilifi, or at schools. I am sure this will help students grasp the scientific concepts better.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Humble, hardworking and Fabulous!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes; I wanted to have a girlfriend in class 5 in primary school! Had some public whipping in front of everyone in school!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Running a restaurant as both owner and chef
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Chapati and Beans
What is the most fun thing you've done?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
be always happy, own a bugatti veyron and have a lovely family!
Tell us a joke.