KEMRI Wellcome scientist wins Royal Society Pfizer Prize

A Kenyan scientist working at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Dr Faith Osier, has been awarded the Royal Society Pfizer Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes for African science.

The prize is awarded annually to a young scientist based in Africa and recognises research scientists making innovative contributions to the biological sciences, including basic medical science.

The prize has been awarded to Dr Osier for her research on understanding the mechanisms of immunity to malaria infection in humans. Dr Osier leads a team of young researchers at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme to understand how children living in areas with endemic malaria develop immunity to the disease. This work is important in contributing to the search for malaria vaccines.

Dr Osier was also recently awarded the prestigious African Research Leader Award from the Medical Research Council and the Department for International Development. She joined the programme in 1998 and immediately became interested in understanding how people – particularly children – could develop immunity to malaria. Dr Osier has developed strong collaborations in this work with the Burnet Institute in Australia and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK.

On hearing of the award, Dr Osier said: "I am delighted and excited by the Royal Society Pfizer prize award, which I see as an award to my whole research team. It is our dream to build strong science in Africa that contributes to solving Africa’s major health problems."

Professor Solomon Mpoke, Director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), said: "We congratulate Dr Osier on this outstanding achievement, which shows the strength of Kenyan science. The work of Dr Osier and a new generation of Kenyan researchers like her is critical to driving development in Kenya and the wider region."

Professor Berhanu Abegaz, Director of the African Academy of Sciences, said: "This is wonderful news. The Royal Society is one of the world's most prestigious scientific institutions, and the award of this prize is a tremendous boost to Kenyan and African science."