Microbiology

Mandate [MICROBIOLOGY]

The Microbiology Department of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research is being reorganized and re-positioned for improved effectiveness and productivity under the leadership of our visionary and vibrant Director-General. The Microbiology Department comprise of: 

  • Center for Human Virology and Genomics
  • Center for Tuberculosis Research
  • Diarrhoea, Immunology and Parasitology Research Division

Dr. Rosemary Audu was appointed the new Head of Department of Microbiology and Laboratory Director on May, 2017.  Her appointment was as a result of her excellent track records in various leadership positions.  She is expected to drive the re-positioning of Microbiology department for improved effectiveness and productivity under the leadership of our visionary and vibrant Director General.

Dr.  Rosemary Audu, a Deputy Director of Research, has a PhD in Medical Microbiology with Virology specialty. Her research interest includes HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Human Papilloma Virus.  She set up the quality management system in the Center for Human Virology and Genomics and under her leadership the laboratory is ISO 9001:2008 certified, and has just been recommended for ISO 1589: 2012 accreditation and for WHO listing as a prequalification laboratory for in-vitro diagnostics.

She has been involved in various research projects in HIV/AIDS and has evaluated various diagnostic tools for HIV screening and confirmation, viral load testing, and has contributed immensely towards the development of the national algorithm for the early infant diagnosis of HIV using dry blood spots.

She set up the first viral load testing facilities for HIV, HCV, and HBV in the country, as well as the first genotyping facilities for HIV, HCV and HPV. She was the PI in an IANPHI supported project that involved training and providing proficiency panels for HIV, TB and malaria. Dr. Audu is a trained assessor for ASLM and ISO 15189 and she is currently involved in mentoring other laboratories in Nigeria for accreditation.

Until recently, Dr. Rosemary Audu was a member of the National ART Task team and currently a member of the National Technical Working Group on Viral Hepatitis in Nigeria. She is a past Fogarty fellow and a Heymann fellow of IANPHI leadership academy. Her vision for the department is to develop it to attain international standard that will enable it attract grants for research of excellence and also provide services as part of the Institute’s mandate to improve the health of Nigerian populace in the midst of the several communicable diseases ravaging us as a country. She is saddled with the responsibility of mentoring several younger scientists within her department.

Dr. Chika K. Onwuamah, Ph.D. (Cell Biology and Genetics), is the head of the Centre for Human Virology and Genomics (formerly Human Virology Laboratory). Since 2001, this Centre, a national HIV reference laboratory, has pioneered the use of high-tech assays for diagnosing and monitoring viral infections in Nigeria.

Dr. Onwuamah commenced work here in 2005, diagnosing and monitoring markers for viral infections using ELISA and nucleic acid tests. Dr.  Onwuamah supervises the sequencing of HIV-1 strains to identify drug options available for patients failing antiretroviral therapy. From the implementation of quality management system in 2006 till our accreditation in 2017, he has managed the quality assurance processes at the Centre.

In 2007, within Nigeria CRAN Dr. Onwuamah played a pivotal role in investigating the genetic basis for orofacial clefts in Nigerian children. He is interested in understanding host-pathogen-environment inter-relationships amenable to developing durable interventions. His main research interests include:
1) Genomics and molecular epidemiology; 2) Genotoxicity of antiretroviral drugs; 3) Quality assurance for molecular diagnostics.

Dr. Nneka Onyejepu (PhD) is the head of the Center for Tuberculosis Research (formerly National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory).  She holds an MSc in Medical Microbiology and Parasitology and PhD in Cell Biology and Genetics from the University of Lagos. She is presently a Research Fellow with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Lagos and Head of Center for Tuberculosis Research domiciled in the Department of Microbiology.

She has participated in multiple national and international collaborative studies including a Laboratory and Quality Assurance Supervisor in a USAID funded study on a phase III Clinical Trial on HIV prevention (2005-2008) in collaboration with Family Health International 360 Research Triangle North Carolina and University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) Nigeria.

She also serves as a member of the National Technical Working group on Tuberculosis (TB) Laboratory, member of the Supervisory and Mentoring team for the National TB and Leprosy control Programme and the Principal Investigator NIMR; a WANETAM Consortium- EDCTP funded project.  Her research interest includes transmission dynamics of TB, diagnosis of drug resistance and implementation research.

Mrs. Ebele Chukwu Afocha is the acting head of Diarrhoea, Immunology and Parasitology Research Division, Microbiology Department. Mrs. Ebelechukwu Afocha obtained B.Sc. (Applied Microbiology), M.Sc. (Virology,), and PhD (Medical Microbiology in view).

Her main research interests include isolation, identification, characterization and determination of clonal relatedness of diarrheic pathogens using DNA and sequencing-based molecular typing methods as well as Bioinformatics. She has been involved research projects in these areas and has co-authored some published articles.   She is a team player who strongly believes that the role of research in quality of life, growth and development of a nation is unprecedented.  One of her research strategies is to collaborate with eminent researchers in diarrhoea and immunology research within and outside Nigeria. She enjoys spending her spare time with family and friends.