African Nutritional Sciences Research Consortium
The African Nutritional Sciences Research Consortium (ANSRC) brings together academic and research institutions from across the East African region, with the goal of building PhD training programs in basic laboratory research in nutritional and agricultural sciences. ANSRC consists of members from seventeen East African institutions of higher learning and research, and includes representatives from: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. ANSRC is being facilitated by faculty from the Institute of Human Nutrition (IHN), University of Wisconsin, and the University of Nairobi. IHN has established a coordinating office for this program at Columbia University’s Global Center Nairobi.
ANSRC working groups have established detailed plans in the following areas – Admissions and Student Monitoring, Curriculum, Human and Physical Infrastructure, and Liaisons with the Private Sector and Development Agencies. ANSRC works in concert with the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and the African Population and Health Research Consortium (APHRC), which offer highly successful training in economics and public health, respectively. From 2017 to 2020, ANSRC leadership has had a number of meetings with Kenyan government ministries, AERC, APHRC, representatives of the private sector, and the African Development Bank (AfDB), which have been important to achieving a number of ANSRC’s objectives.
A major advance has been the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kenya National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NACOSTI) regarding close ANSRC-government collaboration and which is now being approved by the Kenyan Ministry of Education and Attorney General. The January 24, 2020, ANSRC workshop/meeting “Frontiers in Nutrition”, at the Columbia Global Center/Nairobi brought together successful collaborations with ANSRC academia as well as the FAO, BECA/ILRI, UNICEF, International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), and private sector entities that are leaders in food security. Even during the Covid-19 lockdowns, progress is advancing in ANSRC playing a major role in the recently established AfDB/East African Community Nutrition Center of Excellence in Burundi. Project planning with the Turkana Basin Institute has been initiated to bring together millions of years of plant and human evolution to understand how current science education and training can contribute to capacity building and improving well-being for the Lake Turkana populations.
The first phase of implementing the consortium focuses on Kenya and includes completing the development and accreditation of the ANSRC curriculum in the initial group of universities, developing the capacity of existing faculty in basic sciences, developing the infrastructure for basic science training at Research Specialty Facilities (RSFs), providing mentorship and support to faculty, and admission of the first cohort of students into the program. Faculty from non-Kenyan/East African countries will also be able to participate in the first phase activities and students from these countries can seek admission to the ANSRC PhD program. In the following phase, faculty of other African countries will work through their governments to obtain approvals for their institutions to host the ANSRC PhD program.
ANSRC will be responsible for admitting graduate students to the program through the participating universities in East Africa, establishing curricula and laboratory training and monitoring research projects, establishing the Research Specialty Facilities within which basic science infrastructure and activities will be enhanced through the consortium, and for determining the quality of the dissertation to merit a PhD degree ANSRC will integrate training using a “one classroom” approach
History of the Consortium
ANSRC was founded in 2012 as a consortium following successful visits by consortium facilitators to multiple institutions in East Africa. The consortium is registered as a Society with the Republic of Kenya. The elected officials are: Chair, Dr. Gordon Nguka (Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology); Vice-Chair, Dr. John Msuya (Sokoine University of Agriculture); Secretary, Prof. Bonnie Dunbar (University of Nairobi); and Treasurer, Dr, Francis Mulaa (University of Nairobi). ANSRC consists of members from seventeen East African institutions of higher learning and research, and includes representatives from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The consortium is being facilitated by Professors Richard Deckelbaum, MD, and Debra Wolgemuth, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center, Prof. Bonnie Dunbar, and James Ntambi, PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison. ANSRC has established a coordinating office for this program at Columbia University’s Global Center in Nairobi (CGC Africa) of which Murugi Ndirangu, PhD is the Director.
An informal meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2012, which established the goals of the consortium following successful visits of the consortium facilitators to multiple institutions in East Africa. Subsequent funding from the African Development Bank supported ANSRC’s formal initiation, and included a meeting of potential partners which convened in Nairobi in January, 2013. A second ANSRC meeting was held in Arusha, Tanzania in 2013 during which the initial results from the various working groups (Curriculum, Infrastructure, Human Resources, and Admissions/Monitoring) were presented. The 2014 ANSRC meeting was held in Kampala, Uganda, and included final reports of the working groups, the selection of Professor John Kakitahi, formerly of Makerere University, to serve as the Executive Director of ANSRC, and the designation of the CGC Africa as the site for ANSRC’s offices. ANSRC meetings in 2015 and 2016 were held in Nairobi, Kenya, and their primary focus was on curriculum development and the creation of timelines for setting up research labs.
- Executive Director
Murugi Ndirangu, PhD
- Director, Columbia Global Centers Nairobi; East Africa Coordinator for ANSRC
Richard Deckelbaum, MD
- Professor, Pediatrics, and Former Director, Institute of Human Nutrition Columbia University Medical Center
Bonnie Dunbar, PhD
- Adjunct Professor University of Nairobi
James Ntambi, PhD
- Professor of Biochemistry and Nutrition University of Wisconsin
James Wariero, B. Pharma
Debra Wolgemuth, PhD
- Professor, Genetics and Development, Former Director, Nutritional and Metabolic Biology Doctoral Training Program, Institute of Human Nutrition Columbia University Medical Center