Seminar Series 2013-14

Tuesday 6th May 2014

Microbiology and bugs in sub-Saharan Africa: elephant in the room?

Speaker: Professor Samuel Kariuki, International Fellow at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; Director, Centre for Microbiology Research, Kenya medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Nairobi, Kenya.

The talk reports data on few studies in Kenya and the region to highlight the current issues on surveillance, clinical investigation and management of outbreaks of key enteric and other bacterial pathogens.

More Info (

Tuesday 11th March 2014

Tackling transgeneration risk for type 2 diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Speaker: Professor David Dunger, Head of the Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge.

Through extensive field work in the more rural Mpumalanga province of South Africa we have developed a complex intervention around pre-pregnancy and pregnancy weight gain with the aim of reducing transgenerational risk for T2D (Ntshembo). This clustered randomised controlled trial will explore whether local health worker based interventions can be effective in reducing risk for metabolic disease in transitioning societies.

More Info (

Thursday 20th February 2014

In Africa: Fossil hunting for human ancestors

Speakers: Dr Marta Mirazon Lahr (Director of the Duckworth Laboratory) & Professor Robert Foley (Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies)

It is now widely accepted that our species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa in the last 200,000 years.

The fossils and prehistoric tools from the late Quaternary of West Turkana reveal the complex and dynamic nature of human populations through time, throw light on prehistoric warfare, and human adaptation, and thus help us reconstruct the evolutionary history of our species in Africa.

More Info (

Thursday 6th February 2014

Doing Business in Africa

Speaker: Lanre Akinola, Editor of 'This Is Africa'

With murmurings of an upswing in Western economies this year, the need for vigilance and nuance in understanding the African business landscape is as high as ever. The presentation will provide a critical, but constructive assessment of the “Africa Rising” narrative from a business perspective.

More Info (

Thursday 23rd January 2014

Science in Higher Education and Development in Africa

Speaker: Professor Alec Boksenberg CBE FRS (Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge; Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge); Honorary Professor of Experimental Astronomy, University of Cambridge; Fellow of University College, London

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is a globally international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope. The development of large scale radio astronomy facilities is recognised as a powerful driver of socio-economic development in Africa.

More Info (

Friday 13th December 2013

Fifty Years of Family Change in Ghana

Speaker: Professor Christine Oppong (Cambridge University alumna; Senior Member, Wolfson College, Cambridge): Adjunct Professor of Applied Anthropology, University of Ghana, Legon

This seminar is based on the author’s own studies starting in 1962 and recent ethnographic case studies by students from the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. The main subjects addressed are social and biological reproduction, demographic innovation and child development.

More Info (

Sunday 13th October 2013

A pain in the neck; meningococcal meningitis in Africa

Speaker: Professor Sir Brian Greenwood (an alumnus of King's College, Cambridge; winner of the prestigious Canada Gairdiner Global Health Award in 2012); Faculty of Infectious & Tropical Diseases, LSHTM

For over 100 years, large epidemics of meningococcal meningitis, involving many thousands of subjects, have occurred in an area of the African Sahel and sub-Sahel known as the African meningitis belt, which stretches across Africa from Ethiopia in the east to Senegal in the west. Theories as to how the bacterium which causes these epidemics (Neisseria meningitidis – the meningococcus) reached sub-Saharan Africa will be discussed as will possible reasons for why meningococcal infection occurs in this part of Africa in a manner seen nowhere else in the world. The features of the disease and its treatment will be mentioned briefly. Attempts to prevent this infection by vaccination have been made since shortly after the infection was described first in Africa but, until recently, these efforts have met with only limited success. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a new serogroup A polysaccharide protein conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac) has been developed through a public private partnership (the Meningitis Vaccine Project) and produced at the Serum Institute of India at an affordable price. This vaccine is now being rolled out across the meningitis, and recent experience in Chad which has shown that it has been dramatically effective in averting an epidemic will be described.

More Info (