Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medal Njeri Wamae 28102018 01
Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Prof. Njeri Wamae, delivers her acceptance speech at the sixtyseventh meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicines and Hygiene, in New Orleans, USA. PHOTO: COURTESY

Taigu Muchiri and Dan Muchai

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTM) has awarded the Dean, School of Pharmacy & Health Sciences Prof. Njeri Wamae the 2018 Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medal, during an award ceremony held on October 28 in New Orleans, USA.

ASTM is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health.

According to the Society, the Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medal recognizes honorees for their inspirational and pioneering spirit, whose work represents succcess despite obstacles and advances the field of tropical medicine.

Dr.Clara Southmayd Ludlow (1852-1924) was an entomologist with scientific zeal and tenacity who battled the odds of age, gender and skepticism of women in the sciences to advance the understanding of tropical medicine.
Thus, the Award Committee selects an individual who “...represent, through their work in clinical tropical medicine, teaching or scientific research in tropical medicine, the best and the brightest in the field.”

Prof. Wamae is Professor of Parasitology and Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, a position she has held since December 2017. Prior to that she held the Professorship of Parasitology at the Mount Kenya University School of Medicine. Before then, she was the founding Dean - Directorate of Research and Development at Kenya Methodist University.

Over the course of her illustrious career, Prof. Wamae has become a widely-respected researcher, administrator and teacher.

She has published over sixty peer-reviewed journal essays, supervised numerous postgraduate students and continues with research activities in neglected tropical and zoonotic diseases as well as examining theses/dissertations and supervising graduate students at local and international universities.

Speaking during the award ceremony, Dr. Wamae noted the great honor bestowed upon her as the second recipient of this award which was started in 2017, given her status as a non-physician and an African. She reflected on the legacy of Dr. Ludlow and the underrepresentation of women in the sciences - “I can’t underestimate the importance of giving women a chance. Women are important and are often left behind.”

Outside the academy, Prof. Wamae has set several professional benchmarks; she is the Founding Director, Eastern and Southern Africa Centre of International Parasite Control (ESACIPAC); Chief Research Officer, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and first and only female Director, Centre for Microbiology Research (CMR), KEMRI.

Prof. Wamae also serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) as an advisor on tropical diseases, in the course of which she has attended numerous international meetings in she served as a keynote speaker.

She has also held several senior management positions in various academic institutions, including a visiting Professorship at Nagasaki University, Japan as well as Guest Researcher, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA.

Most recently as Chairperson of the Guinea Worm Eradication Certification Committee, Prof. Wamae led a team of eminent researchers and representatives of various non-governmental organizations in conducting a four year campaign to stamp out guinea disease from Kenya.

Prof. Wamae was in July this year conferred with the Nelson Mandela Distinguished Africanist Award by the Board of the Toyin Falola Annual Conference, which noted her notes “...her commitment to research, integrity, productivity, and sincere passion for everything that is good about Africa.