Dr Eleanor Ochodo, a senior researcher and lecturer in the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care, is one of four “rising stars and future research leaders” who will receive a substantial funding grant to pursue research aimed at addressing priority health problems in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ochodo, who is based in the Department of Global Health, is one of four recipients of the highly competitive and prestigious 2019 African Research Leader Awards from the UK Medical Research Council and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The scheme is awarded annually and aims “to strengthen research leadership across sub-Saharan Africa by attracting and retaining exceptionally talented individuals who will lead high-quality programmes of research on key global health issues relevant to the area”.
“I am most excited about being awarded a prestigious and competitive grant to advance the science of evidence synthesis and translation of research into policy in Africa,” she said.
Ochodo’s research revolves around evidence-based health care with a focus on diagnostic tests and markers. She focuses specifically on the accuracy of diagnostic tests and markers, their impact on patients and how their results can be translated to policy and practice. She has previously held research grant awards from the World Health Organisation and Wellcome Trust Foundation and is widely published in local and international journals.
Her proposal for the African Research Leader award was entitled "Research to Policy in Africa: evidence synthesis for building a translation pipeline to eliminate infectious diseases".
She said she will use the four-year funding for a project which aims to formally develop an approach to translating research findings into policy through summarizing and integrating research findings from different fields. The project is a collaboration between Stellenbosch University, Kenya Medical Research Institute and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Expanding on what the grant will entail, she said: “Infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria still cause considerable illness and death in Africa. Using HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as examples, this project aims to formally develop an approach to translating research findings into policy through summarizing and integrating research findings from different fields.
“Policy makers generally require research evidence from many fields to make decisions about recommending health interventions. At the moment most policy about health is mainly done at global level. There is need for adaption of global guidelines to meet national needs in Africa. My proposed work aims to develop new methods for integrating research evidence from different sources through adaption of global guidelines.”
Ochodo trained as a medical doctor in Nairobi, Kenya before completing a postgraduate certificate in Infectious Diseases from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in International Health from the Free University of Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit) and a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Amsterdam.
She then moved to South Africa to work at the Department of Global Health at Stellenbosch University.
“At this point of my career, after having completed my fellowship funded by the Wellcome Trust, I am ready to develop a programme of science and south-to-south research networks in evidence synthesis and implementation science. I am very excited that this new MRC award will provide that platform.
“I am honoured and excited to be given a platform to advance the science, methods and capacity of evidence-synthesis and research translation in Africa.”