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Reproductive Health & Biology

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The department conducts both basic and applied research aspects of reproductive health including reproductive biology, anatomy and physiology, immunology, pathology and fertility mechanisms. These are aimed at understanding of both human and non-human reproductive functions. The research efforts have led to the development non-human primate models, particularly the baboon, to study specific aspects of reproductive health. This is as a result of our establishment that phylogenetically, the baboon is closer to humans and therefore a suitable model for testing the safety, efficacy and mechanism of action of contraceptives and new drugs for reproductive diseases and disorders.

Conservation and management of primate species (both wild and captive) are also of major concern in the department and are being addressed in several ways. Studies on habitat ecology, housing designs and reproductive technologies such as semen cryopreservation, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryo cryopreservation are envisaged. Assisted reproductive techniques that target endangered primates are urgently required to facilitate captive breeding and as an aid to genetic management since some colonies may not breed well in captivity.

As a result of collaborative research with a local Pharmaceutical Company- Universal Corporation Limited, the department has spearheaded the transition and development of research ideas from bench through product development hence translation of research ideas from the bench to products and services. In addition, it is in the process of facilitating translation of health research and development of ideas to clinical trials of one developed product, UniPron. UniPron, a reversible non-hormonal microbicidal contraceptive has been developed and patented. Its safety and efficacy in the baboon model have been established. Also formulated and developed are Smugel, a vaginal lubricant and SmusCan, a scan gel. These products have since received the following awards; National Commission for Science and Technology, Kenya Public Service Innovation, African Union Innovation and Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship awards. Other coveted awards that have been received in the department include “The world Academy of Sciences” and “Aubrey Sheiham Evidence-based Health Care in Africa Leadership Award” of the Cochrane Collaboration.

The department is involved in the preparation and maintenance of Cochrane Systematic Reviews; with a primary aim of helping people make well-informed decisions about healthcare and health policy.

The department conducts and emphasizes on research including

  • Molecular and cellular aspects of reproduction
  • Molecular characterization of baboon papilloma virus
  • Uterus transplantation studies
  • ovarian transplant
  • Development of new birth control methods
  • Testing for the safety and efficacy of novel agents for fertility control
  • Development of assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF
  • Studies on possible interaction between human contraceptives and SHIV
  • Diseases associated with female infertility such as endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID)
  • Development of spermicides and microbicides to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
  • Stem cell research
  • Vaginal microbial ecocystem
  • Cervical and prostate cancer
  • Antimicrobial resistance

This department houses molecular biology, where researchers are currently working on Surveillance for emerging zoonotic disease threats and behavioral risk characterization in high-risk areas specifically for MERS CoV at the Wildlife/livestock/human interface. It also houses non-communicable disesases

The department is currently composed of senior scientists who lead key research groups in addition to technical and support staff

Funding and Collaboration
We have received funding and collaborated with several institutions and organizations including; The Government of Kenya, NACOSTI, World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, CONRAD, Merck Serono, European Union, PVEN, USAID and various universities in the USA, Europe, Asia and Africa.

In addition to research, the department is involved in training students from tertiary institutions such as polytechnics and universities. This is crucial as scientists mentor undergraduates, graduates and post-doctoral students in various fields of research.

Dissemination of research findings
Together with our collaborators and partners, we have presented our research finding in scientific meetings and conferences locally and internationally. In addition, we have widely published the findings in various peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Jael A.Obiero, PhD
Head of Department
Reproductive Health and Biology
Institute of Primate Research
P. O. Box 24481-0052, Karen, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel +254 02 2606235 (ext 128)
Fax +254 02 2606235
Email: obierojatina@yahoo.com/ jael@primateresearch.org

 Dr. Jael Obiero is a Research Scientist in Reproductive Health and currently the Head of Reproductive Health & Biology at the Institute of Primate Research. Dr. Obiero holds a BSc from Egerton University, both MSc (Physiology) and PhD (Medical Microbiology) from the University of Nairobi. She has participated in mentoring both undergraduate and post graduate students and is an author of Cochrane Systematic Reviews in Collaboration with the South African Cochrane Centre. Her area of research interests includes Reproductive Health, Maternal & Child Health, Mucosal Immunity of the Reproductive system and Evidence based research.
Dr. Obiero has received several awards including NACOSTI, Reviews for Africa Program and the converted Aubrey Sheiham Evidence-Based Healthcare in Africa Leadership Award of the Cochrane Collaboration.
She is currently working on a project “Fermented Food for Life” a project funded by ICDC, in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, Western University-Canada and Heifer International.

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