The landmark Institute of Medicine report, “Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the
United States" highlighted the importance of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and improved control
for zoonotic infectious diseases—60% of all human pathogens are directly transmitted from or emergent
from animal reservoirs. Critically, zoonotic pathogen emergence and transmission occurs in “hot
spots”—ecologically and epidemiologically defined regions where domestic animal and wildlife
interactions with humans are concentrated and often exacerbated by presence of arthropod vectors
responsible for transmission. Understanding the behavior of zoonotic pathogens, including mechanisms
of emergence, persistence and spread that underlie effective surveillance and response, is widely
recognized as critically important to addressing emerging infections.
Both endemic and epidemic zoonotic diseases have a disproportionate impact in sub-Saharan Africa.
The reliance on livestock for livelihoods, population growth and land pressure that increasingly brings
people and domestic animals in contact with wildlife, and the persistent poverty and hunger that
underlies consumption of bushmeat and sick or dead livestock all contribute to this high endemic
disease burden and elevated risk for pathogen emergence. Kenya is representative of this zoonotic
disease burden and risk: two-thirds of the population are farmers with >80% having livestock amid
increasing pressure for arable land adjacent to a rich diversity of wildlife.
The highest priority to strengthen capacity is integrated post-graduate training for clinically-trained
individuals in both laboratory and field epidemiologic research. Medical and veterinary education in
Kenya, culminating in a bachelor degree in either medicine or veterinary medicine, is highly clinically
focused—helping meet needs for clinical care but does not provide sufficient training to identify
knowledge gaps, design approaches to address these gaps, conduct investigations, and analyze
results/outcomes. We propose to address this training gap using two tracks: i) PhD training for clinically-
trained individuals currently at a junior level and whose positions allow full-time commitment (6
individuals; training duration of 4 years), and ii) structured modular training for individuals currently in
ministerial and other governmental positions to strengthen capacity in situ (two 2-year cohorts, each of 5
individuals). We have identified a strong candidate pool, all of whom have completed MSc/MPH/MMed
training. Critically, in both training tracks, physicians and veterinarians will be a single, integrated cohort.
Training, including field and laboratory research, will take place in Kenya, an integrated collaboration
among the University of Nairobi College of Medicine and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Washington
State University, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute.