CAPACITY STATEMENT FOR NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR) MWANZA MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTRE
ABOUT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR), TANZANIA
The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) (www.nimr.or.tz) is a public research institution under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) that was established by the Tanzanian government by an act of parliament number 23 of 1979. NIMR is mandated to carry out health research in Tanzania and promoting the use of research findings for policy making and practice. NIMR has seven research centres and seven research stations spread all over the country. NIMR Mwanza Research Centre is one of the major constituent centres of NIMR situated in Mwanza city, on the southern shores of Lake Victoria. The Centre started during the early 1950’s as the East African Institute for Medical Research (EAIMR) under the then East African High Commission (EAHC) and focused on schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminthiasis (STH) research. Since then NIMR Mwanza centre has maintained an outstanding track record in schistosomiasis, Soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) and other neglected tropical diseases research and has developed a well-established network of research collaborating partners in and outside Africa. Currently, the centre has about 40 research scientists and 20 technicians with diverse specialties including parasitology, malacology, epidemiology, microbiology, molecular biology, clinicians, medical statisticians and social scientists among others. The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Mwanza centre is an ideal institution in Tanzania to take part in this project. Through its extensive network of schistosomiasis study sites and sister research centres and stations, NIMR Mwanza centre will provide an opportunity for the project to be implemented not only in the lake zone, but also other parts of Tanzania when that need arises. NIMR Mwanza centre has the necessary research infrastructure such as state of the art, GCP compliant laboratories with modern equipment for sample analysis, storage and archiving. The centre has a data management unit which operates both electronic and physical data capture subsystems. The centre has reliable internet connectivity and is accessible by road and air from all major cities in east Africa including Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Kampala. In addition, NIMR Mwanza centre has a close working relationship with the national neglected tropical disease (NTD) control programme and the World Health Organization (WHO).
NIMR MWANZA CENTRE LABORATORY
NIMR Mwanza centre has state of the art GCLP compliant laboratories with modern equipment which provides the required support for schistosomiasis and STH research and control in general. The main NIMR laboratory is divided into three major sections namely general parasitology, malacology, general microbiology and immunology/molecular biology. The general parasitology laboratory performs routine parasitological tests such the Kato Katz, formal ether concentration and FLOTAC methods for diagnosis of schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminth infections. The laboratory also performs the urine filtration method for diagnosis of urogenital schistosomiasis and the Giemsa stain method for diagnosis of malaria parasites. The laboratory also performs specialized tests such as PCR for diagnosis and identification of parasites and their vectors and ELISA for detection of malaria parasites in mosquitoes. The major equipment available in this laboratory include: ABI thermocycler, Dynex MRX microplate reader, vortex machines, Eppendorf centrifuges, normal centrifuges, Dri-blocks and freezers with various storage temperatures. The malacology section of the laboratory performs routine snail research work such as snail sorting and morphological identification, cercariae shedding experiments, snail packing, preservation and archiving. The malacology laboratory also performs advanced molecular techniques such as snail and schistosome identification and characterization using PCR. The laboratory also conducts regular short courses in the area of schistosomiasis and STH research and snail control such as:
Field surveys for schistosomiasis and other helminth research and control
Field and laboratory methods in malacology
NIMR MWANZA CENTRE MALACOLOGY LABORATORY
The NIMR Mwanza centre malacology Laboratory will be responsible for all research activities for the proposed research project in Tanzania. The malacology Laboratory is located in the main NIMR laboratory in Isamilo Area, Mwanza city. The laboratory is part of the parasitic and vector borne diseases research programme of whom Dr. Safari Kinung’hi (Principal research scientist and director of NIMR Mwanza Centre) is the lead scientist. Dr. Safari Kinung’hi is supported by a dedicated team of scientists and technicians trained to BSc, MSc and PhD level. NIMR Mwanza centre malacology Laboratory is well equipped for all routine and molecular snail and malacological research techniques. The lab also has a snail archive and maintains a colony of bulinus snails. The malacology laboratory is supported by an animal house which is used for experimental schistosomiasis where necessary. Office spaces for scientists and technicians are available in the main NIMR building. The NIMR mwanza centre malacology laboratory is part of the main NIMR Mwanza centre laboratory which is designated as BSL-3. The laboratory is GCLP compliant and is in the final stages of accreditation to international standards. The NIMR mwanza centre malacology laboratory is supported by a network of other general-purpose laboratories used for research and training on schistosomiasis and other neglected tropical diseases. The parasitic and vector borne disease research programme maintains basic equipment as well as field vehicles for field surveys and sampling of different snail species. These basic equipment include light and compound microscopes, freezers and refrigerators, cool boxes, sample bottles, petri dishes and pipettes for infectivity testing, temperature, water and PH meters, hand scoops, dredges, as well as protective gears such as hand gloves and gum boots. All these facilities will be made available to the project once funds become available.
DATA MANAGEMENT UNIT
NIMR Mwanza centre has a data management unit (DMU) which operates both physical and electronic data capture and management systems. The unit uses CSPro for data management. Depending on the type of the study, the unit also uses OpenClinica, an open-source data management system for clinical trials which is compliant with FDA 21 CFR part 11a (GCP-compliant). The unit have well trained staff with extensive experience in collecting data using electronic devices such as PDAs, tablets and smart phones. The unit is supported by the information and communication technology (ICT) unit which have strong savers to guarantee data safety and security.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) UNIT
NIMR Mwanza centre has an ICT unit which supports all other centre units such as the laboratory, data management, finance and supplies and administration units. The ICT unit operates a local area network (LAN) with savers and strong computers. The unit ensures 24 hours availability of internet services through an agreement with the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL). Since December 2012, the unit was connected to the national fiber optic backbone cable.
THE LAKE ZONE INSTITUTIONAL ETHICS REVIEW BOARD (LZIRB)
NIMR Mwanza centre hosts the secretariat of the lake zone institutional ethics review board (LZIRB) which is serves the lake zone area of Tanzania. The LZIRB was established in 2010 and was mandated to monitor, control and coordinate health research carried out in the lake zone and other parts of Tanzania. The LZIRB serves research and academic institutions located in the lake zone area of Tanzania with a population of more than 15 million. The LZIRB has 12 members including a chairman and a secretary and holds meetings once a month. The LZIRB major function is to receive, review, register and grant ethical approval to research proposals originating in institutions located in the lake zone area of Tanzania on behalf of the Tanzania national medical research coordination committee (MRCC). The LZIRB also monitors the progress of implementation of approved research projects.
FINANCE AND SUPPLIES UNIT
NIMR Mwanza centre has a finance and supplied unit. The unit carries out all functions related to finance and supplies management such as maintaining finance accounts, receiving and disbursing project funds as well as preparing monthly, quarterly reports as well as audit reports to the Tanzanian government and the funding agencies. The supplies section of this unit deals with and guarantees availability of research equipment, reagents, materials and consumables from sources within and outside the country.