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Research & Innovation, Focus Areas, Contracts and Intellectual Property

Research and Innovation

The department is researching on innovative and better ways for diagnosis of microorganisms. New methods and tests are being developed for the detection and identification of bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic pathogens common to Zimbabwe.

Research Focus Areas

Currently, the department is carrying out research on

• Isolation and characterization of nontuberculous mycobacteria

• Poliovirus surveillance

• Rubella virus disease surveillance

• Molecular diagnosis & surveillance rotavirus

• Surveillance of measles virus

• Detection fungal fungal infections including cryptococcal meningitis

• Infection control programmes

• Schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminthes

• Malaria Plasmodium species identification

• HPV genetic diversity

• Aetiology of sepsis

• Enteric pathogens

Research Fellowship

The department has two PhD and 1 MPhil research fellows working of HPV diversity, Schistosomiasis and Mycobacteria. There are also 6 Masters students currently carrying out research projects in the following fields:

• Plasmodium species identification

• Nontuberculous mycobacteria identification

• Pathogens in sepsis

• Diabetes-associated pathogens

• Soil-transmitted helminthes

• Schistosoma species detection

Intellectual Property

The department is generating new knowledge which may later be packaged as intellectual property. New diagnostic tests are being developed for use in the detection and identification of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. We are also screening for non-pathogenic Mycobacteria from the environment and cattle. These non-pathogenic Mycobacteria are new potential vaccine candidates for tuberculosis. New projects on vaccine development are being initiated in the department and are likely to generate intellectual property. We are also planning to start a new project on identifying environmental microorganisms that produce antimicrobial metabolites.

Research Contracts

Currently the department is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and World Health Organization on a number of projects such as poliovirus surveillance, rubella virus disease surveillance, molecular diagnosis & surveillance rotavirus, surveillance of measles virus and influenza virus surveillance. Other collaborative projects include mapping of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) for the Africa Region with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) of Zimbabwe; genotyping and antifungal susceptibility of Cryptococcus species with Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital (CWZ), The Netherlands. The Department has also participated in various activities at national and international levels as service including being part of:

• National Immunization Technical Advisory Group

• National Neglected Tropical Diseases Control Steering Committee

• National Task Force on Containment of Polio virus Importation

• Education Committee in the Medical Laboratory and Scientist Council of Zimbabwe

• National Polio Free Certification Committee

• National Polio Experts Committee

• Global Schistosomiasis Expert Committee

• Infection Control Association Presidency

• Honorary Secretariat of the Infection Control Africa Network

• Specialist Advisory for the Zimbabwe Quality Assurance Programme

• Regional Advisory role in Designing the Strategic Plan for Neglected Tropical Diseases Control and Elimination

• Founding Membership of the Women and AIDS Support Network of Zimbabwe

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