Molecular Approaches to Clinical Microbiology in Africa (Nairobi, Kenya)

8–14 September 2018

Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya


The wind of change is blowing through clinical microbiology, not just in Africa but across the globe. Molecular techniques are revolutionising the routine identification and characterisation of pathogens, opening new opportunities and challenges in all areas of clinical microbiology from clinical diagnostics to fundamental research. This course will examine the impact of molecular approaches in the African context using a combination of lectures and tutorials and laboratory and computer practical sessions. The course will focus on bacterial pathogens of importance in Africa.

The intensive programme will provide clinical microbiologists and laboratory scientists working in Africa with a concise yet comprehensive overview of the latest research and practice in this essential area, with an emphasis on how these techniques can be applied day-to-day in an African setting, especially when resources are limited. There will be extensive opportunity to interact with the course faculty during the course.

The course will concentrate on approaches which are:

  • currently applicable in African laboratories
  • likely to be applicable in Africa in the foreseeable future (including Whole Genome Sequencing using portable devices)
  • of value to participants in interpreting the literature and assessing the likely utility of new technologies as they are developed

The course is aimed at those primarily trained in culture-based microbiology and combines an understanding of the latest research techniques and theoretical approaches, with practical methods to provide a foundation-level of understanding of the philosophy, methods, and specialist terminology of molecular techniques.

Target Audience

The course is free to attend and open to applicants based in institutes in Africa. Applicants should have demonstrable experience in a relevant field (microbiology, specifically bacteriology) and be, clinical trainees or specialists in medical microbiology; postdoctoral scientists; senior technicians; or research assistants with a Master’s degree. Clinically qualified applicants are especially encouraged to apply.


Teaching will be based around three themes, chosen to represent three of the most pressing clinical imperatives in clinical bacteriology throughout the continent:

  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Enteric bacteria and antimicrobial resistance
  • Encapsulated bacteria and vaccination

For each of these themes the following approaches will be covered:

  • Fundamental molecular biology techniques including preparing, handling, and storing DNA.
  • PCR, including real-time PCR, with an emphasis on, methods, applications and data interpretation.
  • Determining sequence variation, its visualisation and interpretation, concentrating on conventional approaches.
  • Bioinformatic analysis of molecular and genomic data, particularly the exploitation of web-based tools.
  • An overview of future technologies, and their potential for application in clinical microbiology.

These techniques will be explored in the lectures and tutorials and employed during the course practical sessions in the cross-cutting themes of pathogen detection and characterisation, including antimicrobial resistance and the evolution of pathogens, and the application of the data in the improvement of interventions to reduce disease burden.

Learning Outcomes

After attending this course, participants will have:

  • Assess the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of different methodologies and approaches in clinical microbiology.
  • Appreciate utility of molecular techniques in clinical laboratory and bacteriological methods and their transferability to other aplications
  • Apply a range of genomic methods including real-time PCR and conventional sequencing.
  • Create sequence data using next generation single molecule sequencing.
  • Analyse genomic data using publically available software tools to identify causative organisms in an infection and to track an outbreak using WGS

Instructors and speakers

Course instructors

Martin Antonio
Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia

Keith Jolley
University of Oxford, UK

Sam Kariuki
Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

Martin Maiden
University of Oxford, UK

Chisomo Msefula
Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Research Programme

Mark Nicol
University of Cape Town, South Africa

How to apply


The course is open to applicants based in institutes in Africa. Applicants should have demonstrable experience in a relevant field (microbiology, specifically bacteriology) and be clinical trainees or specialists in medical microbiology; postdoctoral scientists; senior technicians; or research assistants with a Master’s degree. Clinically qualified applicants are especially encouraged to apply. The course will be taught in English.

Laboratory experience: The laboratory practical sessions will require basic microbiological and laboratory skills. Participants are required to have some previous exposure to basic microbiological and laboratory techniques. This will be essential for participants to fully benefit from the course.

Computational experience: Participants should have some basic knowledge of computer usage. No formal bioinformatics training is required.

How to Apply
Please complete the online application form. Places are limited and will be awarded on merit. If you have any problems with the online application process, please contact us.

Please note: Applications must be supported by a recommendation from a scientific or clinical sponsor (e.g. supervisor, line manager or head of department). A request for a supporting statement will be sent to your nominated sponsor automatically during the application process. Applicants must ensure that their sponsor provides this supporting statement by the application deadline. Applications without a supporting statement cannot be considered.


The course is subsidised by the Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences Programme and is free to attend for non-commercial applicants.  Please contact us for the commercial fee.


Limited bursaries to cover travel, accommodation and sustenance costs are available and are awarded on merit. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please complete the bursary section of the online application form.

Please note that both the applicant and sponsor are required to provide a justification for the bursary as part of the application.

Bursary terms and conditions

Overseas Courses (held outside of the UK)
A limited number of bursaries are available for each course. These are awarded on merit to cover travel, accommodation and sustenance. The maximum award for travel (economy class) will be £750.

Bursaries can be applied for as part of the course application form. Applicants will be notified of a bursary award along with their place on the course, usually within one month of the application deadline. The decision of the selection committee is final.


Feedback from the 2017 course (Cape Town, South Africa):

“Many thanks to all the instructors and participants. A concise and relevant course that simplifies molecular diagnostics and highlights the benefits and explains the limitations.”

“A very BIG THANK you to Wellcome Trust/Wellcome Genome Campus for their commitment to developing scientists in African countries.”

“I would like to thank the course organisers for this opportunity. I have learnt a lot and surely will use this knowledge in my home country.”

“The course was great.”

“Thank you very much for this opportunity, keep up the good work and what I learned here I will share with my students and labs!! Kudos to you”

“Everything was done very professionally”

“This is a great work you are doing please keep it up. I believe that some of the impact may not be seen until some years from now. Well done.”

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