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UK-supported Uganda Research Unit chooses next director

Image: MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit

Malawi-born Moffat Nyirenda clinches post amid “very strong field of applicants”

Moffat Nyirenda has been appointed director of a leading UK-supported medical research centre in Uganda.

Malawi-born Nyirenda will take the reins at the Uganda Research Unit, which is supported by the UK’s Medical Research Council, the Uganda Virus Research Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, on 1 April, taking over from Pontiano Kaleebu, who has led the unit for the past 13 years.

The LSHTM has been managing the Entebbe-based unit since 2018, three decades after its establishment as a research unit of the MRC focusing on HIV. Since then, its remit has grown to include other diseases.

Calm authority

Nyirenda, who is currently deputy director, leads the unit’s non-communicable diseases research theme. His work has included studies on diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

Liam Smeeth, director of the LSHTM, said Nyirenda beat “a very strong field of applicants” to secure the post. He “impressed us with his vision for the unit, his calm authority and obvious quality as a scientific leader”, Smeeth said on 15 January.

Nyirenda said he was “deeply honoured and excited” that he would be leading the unit. “I look forward to contributing to its further growth, creating new opportunities, strengthening our research themes in strategic areas, forging international collaborations and partnerships and maximising the capacity to translate our research,” he said.