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Makerere’s Kiragga eyes million-dollar prize for visionary research on HIV

Agnes Kiragga
Dr. Agnes Kiragga. Courtesy image.

Dr. Agnes Kiragga, a senior lecturer at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), has been selected among scientists that will benefit from the third Class of Next Einstein Forum (NEF).

Dr. Kiragga also heads the Statistics and Data Management Unit at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI).

IDI is part of MakCHS.

The research scientist will join 25 other “strong scientists, all under 42 years” who will be awarded by NEF during the NEF Global Gathering 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya on March 10, 2020.

Millions-dollar awards are given out to NEF fellows, according to an official statement.

NEF is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).

The official statement says that the scientists were recognized because their “research and innovations are contributing to solve Africa’s and the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Dr. Agnes Kiragga — who is also the secretary of the International Biometric Society in Uganda — won the hearts of judges after showing that she can merge data science and machine learning methods to available “large data” and existing health records to predict and prevent HIV among high-risk groups in Africa.

NEF Fellows are selected by an International Scientific Program Committee, using a rigorous process that comprises academic and scientific merit, a strong publication record, patents, awards and a track record of funds independently raised for research.

Fellows are also required to demonstrate the relevance of their research or innovations to humanity’s grand challenges, as well as a passion for raising Africa’s scientific profile and inspiring the next generation of scientific leaders.

“We are tremendously pleased to welcome the new class to the growing NEF Community of Scientists, and the thirty-five Fellows that preceded this cohort. This Class was selected in record timing because of the quality of their profiles and we look forward to their contributions to our foresight work and public engagement programs like Africa Science Week,” said Dr. Youssef Travaly, NEF vice president of Science, Innovation and Partnerships.

Dr. Agnes Kiragga received her doctorate degree in statistics from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Public Health at Makerere University.

She was jointly supervised by the School of Statistics at Indiana University, USA, according to her profile on Mak website.

“Her doctoral studies focused on the challenges of using routinely collected HIV data for research and used advanced statistical methodology to address biases in HIV observational clinical databases,” the website says.

Dr. Kiragga was recognized alongside another Ugandan named Dr. Samson Rwahwire. He is a senior lecturer in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Busitema University.

Dr. Rwahire is using his knowledge of material science and nanotechnology to modify bitumen for road construction utilizing green nanoscience as a crosslinker for plastic waste.

The other twenty-three NEF Fellows were picked from Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Guinea, Kenya, Cameroon, Mauritius, Senegal, Sudan, and Namibia.

See all the fellows here

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