Cambridge-Africa

Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) - Cambridge Collaboration

The Uganda Cambridge Cancer Initiative

Our first Uganda Cambridge Cancer Initiative Newsletter, Issue 1, October 2020 is available here. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive future newsletters. 

Background

The Uganda Cambridge Cancer Initiative is a collaboration between the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) and several departments at the University of Cambridge. The UCI is a cancer treatment, research and teaching centre located in Kampala, Uganda, which has 80 beds and sees approximately 200 patients every day. The collaboration between UCI and Cambridge started in 2018 and has since grown into a wider network compromising of a number of research projects, collaborations and student exchanges. Several departments and organisations within the University of Cambridge are involved and have direct links to the UCI. See our Partners section for more information. The facilitation of the initiative lies within the Cambridge-Africa team, with Polly Basak as the Project Coordinator. All those involved in the collaboration meet regularly to discuss developments. Read more about our joint collaborations below.

The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) visits to Cambridge

In May 2019, a team from the UCI comprising of Dr Jackson Orem, Executive Director Uganda Cancer Institute and Head of Delegation; Dr Joyce Balagadde-Kambugu, Head Paediatric Oncology; Dr Nixon Niyonzima, Head Research and Training; Ezra Anecho, Grants and Administration and Godfrey Osinde, Head Pharmacy of Nuclear Medicine visited Cambridge. The focus of the visit was to deepen and strengthen the emerging collaboration between the CRUK Cambridge Cancer Centre, CRUK CI and the UCI. Potential areas of mutual interest for research collaborations were explored across the spectrum of disciplines of oncology and cancer research including paediatric oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology and haematology, gynecologic oncology and basic science research. Opportunities for training were explored through student exchange programmes at various levels. The visit explored mechanisms for funding to support and sustain the collaboration. Read more here. Since then, two students from the UCI visited Cambridge to attend the CRUK CI Summer Research Programme (see below). Sylivester Kadhumbula, a technician based in the UCI also visited Cambridge for specialised training. 

University of Cambridge visits to the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) 

There have been numerous visits to the UCI by members of staff and students at the University of Cambridge. In February 2018, Dr Maike De La Roche, CRUK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI) and Corinna Alberg, Cambridge-Africa made the initial visit to the UCI and met with key individuals including the Director, Dr Jackson Orem, and the Head of Research, Dr Nixon Niyonzima. In January 2020, Professor Greg Hannon, Director of the CRUK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI), joined Corinna Alberg from Cambridge-Africa and Dr Suzanne Turner from the CRUK Cambridge Centre and Department of Pathology on a visit to officially launch the new CRUK CI Summer Research Programme (see below). The visit also included meetings between the UCI, the Cambridge delegation and the Ugandan Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda. Read more about their trip hereMarta Ferraresso, a postdoc researcher under the supervision of Dr Suzanne Turner spent a year at the UCI to carry out research into Burkitt Lymphoma. Jamie Matthews, a Cambridge-based PhD student also visited the UCI in 2019. In February 2020, Mike Gill and Davina Gale, both scientists at CRUK CI, travelled to the UCI to interview two positions on the CRUK CI Summer Research Programme. Read more about their trip here. See our History and Timeline page for more information about previous visits and project developments. 

Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI) Summer Research Programme 

In 2019, Henry Wannume and Paul Katongole, both from Uganda, spent June and July in Cambridge as part of a pilot scheme for a the new CRUK CI Summer School. The CRUK CI Undergraduate Summer Research Programme provides a ten week bespoke trading programme and reserves two please for students from the UCI and the Eastern Africa region. Ugandan students are provided with transport, accommodation and a stipend while here. This collaboration will continue and will lead with a high quality training programme for Uganda students and lead to shared learnings for both parties. Students gain a considerable amount of experience including working in one of the multidisciplinary research groups working on a range of projects and in different labs under the supervision of a mentor. They will also have the opportunity to present their work at the Summer Student Symposium. The programme is designed to offer students with a great deal of skills beneficial for their next academic or scientific step. Read more about the programme here. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the CRUK CI Summer Research Programme for 2020 has been cancelled but it is hoped that a research visit for the Ugandan students will take place in early 2021. Click the link for more information.

The Student Elective Exchange Programme 

The University of Cambridge’s School of Clinical Medicine is able to provide a number of elective placements each year for medical students based outside of Cambridge. The elective placements are for a maximum of six weeks and take place at the Cambridge University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Students observe various aspects of the running of the department from meetings to medical procedures, giving an invaluable opportunity to learn from some of the UK’s leading medical consultants. Two places are reserved for Ugandan students each year. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 the elective programme is postponed until 2021. See the School of Clinical Medicine website for more information. 

Cambridge Global Health Partnerships (CGHP) Exchange Programme 

Cambridge Global Health Partnerships has been involved with the UCI since 2019. In early 2020, a small team from Cambridge University Hospitals comprising of physiotherapists and paediatric oncology consultants spent a week at the UCI identifying possible areas of collaboration. The team met with senior colleagues at UCI, and explored and identified joint collaborative opportunities. Partners have identified nursing and pathology as initial areas for support and co-learning between the UCI-Cambridge. Read more about their trip here.

Research Collaborations between University of Cambridge and the UCI

Burkitt Lymphoma Project: In 2018, Dr Suzanne Turner, Department of Pathology and Dr Jackson Orem, UCI were awarded GCRF-QR pump-priming funds for a project on "Understanding disease pathogenesis to develop targeted treatments for African children with Burkitt Lymphoma”. Group members include Gill Currie and Marta Ferraresso, a postdoctoral researcher who spent a year at UCI. 

Prostate Cancer Project: In October 2019, Dr Charlie Massie, Department of Oncology and Dr Nixon Niyonzima, UCI were awarded a one year Cambridge Africa ALBORADA Research Fund grant for their project "Validation of cell-free DNA methylation markers for minimally-invasive detection of Prostate Cancer at the Uganda Cancer Institute”.

Communications and Newsletter

Our first Uganda Cambridge Cancer Initiative Newsletter, Issue 1, October 2020 is available here. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive future newsletters. 

Along with these webpages we are active on twitter @CambridgeAfrica. We use the newly created hashtag #UgandaCambridgeCancer for anything related to the collaboration. The UCI are also on twitter @UgandaCancerIns and have an active Facebook page. Please read more about the individuals involved in the Initiative on our Timeline. All blogs, trip reports can be found in our Blogs section.

Contact 

If you would like further details or would like to be involved in the collaboration please contact the Project Coordinator, Polly Basak pab92@cam.ac.uk. We are in the process of applying for new funding bids to enable us to expand our network.