Instrumental Access 2021
National Livestock Resources Research InstituteBiosciences Research Program
In Uganda, making livestock healthier for all
Meet our Awardee
Research AreasThe department’s research interests include antimicrobial resistance, milk biofortification, sustainable resource management, and diagnostic kit development.
Molecular typing, which is very important in the identification of pathogens and is very much needed, is not possible at NaLIRRI due to lack of the right equipment. Often, outsourcing, which is very expensive, is the most plausible option when you don’t have the right equipment to carry out research in a particular area. But we often fail to get results in time.”
Fighting antimicrobial resistance in Uganda's livestock: Alice Litta-Mulondo, PhD
Researchers in Uganda have been working to make livestock healthier since the colonial era, when the East African Trypanosomiasis Research Organization (EATRO) was formed to investigate infections from the Tsetse fly, among other insect-transmitted diseases.
Today, the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI), EATRO’s postcolonial iteration, tackles those diseases, as well as emerging threats to the nation’s livestock population like antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The World Health Organization has declared AMR one of the top 10 global public health threats facing the world today, with the misuse of antibiotics as the main cause of the rise in drug-resistant microbes.
Alice Litta-Mulondo, PhD (right), knows the dangers of AMR all too well. As a molecular microbiologist focused on livestock pathogens, she has seen how the rise in antibiotic-resistant organisms make treating livestock sicknesses more difficult and costly.
At NaLIRRI, Dr. Litta-Mulondo is part of a multinational project that aims to mitigate agriculture-associated AMR in livestock production, beginning with assessing the use of antibiotics in healthy livestock throughout Uganda.
Working with three students in residence, Dr. Litta-Mulondo is looking for alternatives for the most commonly-used antibiotics for livestock. Her work is part of an international collaboration, with the initial phase intended to establish a common understanding of AMR’s prevalence in Ugandan livestock.
Then, she will be able to set up a system for mitigating the problem. Dr. Litta-Mulondo hopes that this work will open avenues for slowing down the unnecessary use of antibiotics, as well as for finding new disease-fighting products to which bacteria have not yet developed resistance.
"Results from this research will inform policy on antimicrobial use in livestock production in Uganda," says Dr. Litta-Mulondo. "Our findings will be of particular interest to the health, agriculture, and environment sectors, especially for setting up action plans to slow down antimicrobial use."
The Ugandan government has long invested in agricultural health, and Dr. Litta-Mulondo’s AMR research can help to improve policy that affects lives nationwide. Yet this unique research institute currently lacks the equipment that can make Dr. Litta-Mulondo’s research more efficient.
Her lab struggles with delays because they need to ship many samples off-campus to perform analysis, a process that can slow the project down by months. With Instrumental Access equipment, the labs at NaLIRRI will allow Dr. Litta-Mulondo to see faster results, report her findings sooner, and make large-scale policy recommendations that can go into effect in a more timely way.
"Our biggest challenge right now is our struggle to get results in time," says Dr. Litta-Mulondo. "Instrumental Access equipment will go a long way in helping us build our laboratory capacity to engage in cutting-edge science and take our research to a higher standard."
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The institute currently faces a shortage of ample research equipment, lowering the capacity for laboratory sample handling and processing and limiting the number and type of samples processed. Instrumental Access equipment will go a long way in solving this challenge.”
About the DepartmentLocation: Nakyesasa, Uganda
Year Established: 2005
Students Impacted Annually: 200 undergraduate, 120 postgraduate
Why Instrumental Access?A vaccine research and production facility, the first of its kind in the country and region, is currently under construction at NaLIRRI. The facility will provide a platform for research and training to stakeholders in the country and the region at large.
Instrumental Access equipment will help this effort along with a planned practical training center to educate the public on the practice of livestock production.
Shipment StatusIn preparation
About Instrumental Access
To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.