Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI)
Plot No: 51 -59 Nakiwogo Road
P.O.Box 49 Entebbe Uganda
Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu- Director
Established in 1936, the Uganda Virus Institute is a semi-autonomous department in Uganda’s Ministry of Health. The institute’s broad mission is to conduct scientific investigations related to viral and other communicable diseases; contribute to knowledge, policy, and practice; and build institutional capacity. The institute is organized into seven interrelated research departments: Immunology, arbovirology/emerging and re-emerging diseases, virology, ecology/zoology, entomology/vector biology, EPI laboratory, epidemiology and data management, clinical unit for research, and training. The institute has a core staff of 200, and contracts with up to 400 consultants work on UVRI projects.
UVRI shares a campus with several national and international partners (CDC-Uganda, the United Kingdom-based Medical Research Council, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative [IAVI],) with whom the institute has established strong collaborative linkages, joint staffing arrangements, and joint projects and programs. These partners have had considerable interaction with mutual benefits. UVRI also has strong partnerships with Wellcome Trust-UK, European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), Rakai Health Sciences Program/NIH, and Makerere University, among others.
An IANPHI member since 2006, UVRI has leveraged several IANPHI grants to develop its core capacities, skills, and knowledge and attract more than $16 million in grants from external partners between 2008 and 2011. It is quickly achieving its vision of being a world-class center of excellent in health research. In fact, UVRI has expanded its focus which traditionally has been on viral diseases, to include tuberculosis, malaria and other non-viral diseases, as well as noncommmunicable conditions.
Over the past year, UVRI has participated in disease control and surveillance at both regional and national levels in regard to control outbreaks of Ebola and yellow fever, and is helping the ministry examine trends over time for other communicable and noncommunicable diseases. Research also has influenced policy on voluntary male circumcision as well as the daily use of the antibiotic Bactrin to protect against HIV. The institute has participated in capacity building initiatives, including training, of great importance to many regions of Africa. A 2009 grant writing workshop, funded by IANPHI and attended by scientists from throughout the region, has leveraged some $3.5 million in new grants and fellowships, including malaria and molecular biology research. UVRI’s high-level epidemiologic research has attracted international collaborators, such as the African AIDS Vaccine Program (AAVP) that was formerly hosted in Geneva.
Through three IANPHI grants, the development and inplementation of a strategic plan, and many new partnerships, UVRI has expanded rapidly in mission and capacity over the past few years. The resulting new challenges have put the existing projects and infrastructure at potential risk and constrain UVRI’s ability to add new staff and activities. UVRI is proposing a fourth IANPHI grant to lay the foundation for future growth by building up the basics to help guarantee a dependable water supply, back-up power to keep the lights on and refrigeration in the labs, Internet service, and improved maintenance capacities.
The MRC/UVRI Uganda research Unit on AIDS was established following a request in 1988 from the Ugandan Government to the British Government for collaboration on the research of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The Unit is an institution of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), integrated into the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).