February 2011

A monthly means to inform and inspire our TEAM

February 2011
Vol. 2, No. 2

Dr. Allan Hildesheim

Dr. Allan Hildesheim


I am pleased to introduce the third issue of the EMBLEM Newsletter. Conceived by our East African colleagues, the Newsletter is helping us build a unified team towards a unified goal: to better understand the factors that predispose to Burkitt lymphoma in children so that we can devise better ways to prevent this devastating disease in the future. We plan to achieve our goals by conducting a state-of-the-art molecular epidemiology case-control study of Burkitt lymphoma in East Africa. The results from EMBLEM will improve our understanding of the role of infections, immunology in lymphomagenesis.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is leading this study together with partners, including the Research Triangle International (RTI), Information Management Services (IMS), and Fisher BioServices in the U.S.; the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Lacor and Kuluva Hospitals, Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), and NIH/Uganda in Uganda; Moi University in Kenya; and Bugando Medical Center (BMC) and Shirati Health and Education (SHED) Foundation in Tanzania. The success of EMBLEM will be the result of our joint efforts.

  • Benjamin Emmanuel

    Mr. Benjamin Emmanuel

  • Mr. Erisa Sunday

    Mr. Erisa Sunday

EMBLEM started recruiting cases in Uganda in late November 2010. Census was launched in February to help us robustly and verifiably select representative controls. EMBLEM offices have been set up in Kenya and plans for office set up are in advanced stages in Tanzania. Both sites expect to come online in April 2011.

This issue coincides with the appointment of Mr. Benjamin Emmanuel as NCI Study Manager in the U.S. and Mr. Erisa Sunday as AFENET EMBLEM administrator in Uganda to strengthen the coordination of EMBLEM field work. I congratulate them and wish them and the whole EMBLEM team success.
Allan Hildesheim, Ph.D.
Branch Chief, Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch


  • Dr. Steven Reynolds

    Dr. Steven Reynolds

  • Dr. Martin David Ogwang

    Dr. Martin David Ogwang

  • Dr. Olivia Namusisi Kasenge

    Dr. Olivia Namusisi Kasenge

  • Dr. Tobias Kinyera

    Dr. Tobias Kinyera

The EMBLEM Team in Uganda is led by co-principal investigators Drs. Steven Reynolds and Martin David Ogwang.

Dr. Reynolds is a Senior Clinician at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIAID/NIH) and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. He is the Scientific Director of the NIAID/NIH International Centers for Excellence in Research program in Uganda. He works closely with the Rakai Health Sciences Program and the Infectious Diseases Institute at Makerere University. His research is focused on the impact of genital ulcer disease and HSV-2 on HIV transmission, HIV disease progression and on the impact of the current antiretroviral role out on both rural and urban populations in Uganda. In EMBLEM, Dr. Reynolds provides critical logistical support and liaises with local ethics boards to ensure EMBLEM is in compliance.

Dr. Ogwang is a senior consultant surgeon and Institutional Director for St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor. He is an honorary lecturer at Gulu and Mbarara Universities. In EMBLEM, Martin has provides leadership to introduce the EMBLEM study in Uganda and he is the on-site PI responsible for all EMBLEM local activities.

Dr. Ogwang (standing, in tie) flagged off census by the UBOS Team

Dr. Ogwang (standing, in tie) flagged off census by the UBOS Team

EMBLEM is being implemented via a sub-contract with the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET). The EMBLEM team at AFENET is led by Drs. Olivia Namusisi Kasenge and Tobias Kinyera. Dr. Namusisi is the Head of Technical Programs at AFENET. She coordinates EMBLEM work across a set of dynamic partners. Dr. Kinyera is the EMBLEM study Coordinator. He is the scientific team leader responsible for case and control enrollment, data and sample collection.

graph of households censusedCase and control enrollment is ongoing in Uganda. Thirty-five suspected to have BL have been spotted and screened; 17 (6 female, 11 male) cases have been enrolled.

Census is being conducted by a team from Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

Three of 12 villages in three districts were completed February 2011 covering 424 households (See graph).

Controls will be selected from 35 households randomly selected households.


Prof. Joloba with EMBLEM Kenya Team at the Webuye District Hospital

Prof. Joloba with EMBLEM Kenya Team at the Webuye District Hospital

Prof. Moses Joloba, EMBLEM Study Monitor, visited Homa-Bay, Webuye and the AMPATH laboratories at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret.  The visit revealed overall readiness for research of the sites.  Areas for action were identified. A report has been submitted to NCI for action.

A study coordinator has been appointed for EMBLEM Kenya (RN. Pamela Akinyi-Were). Review of study protocols developed in Uganda and changing them to suit Kenya is on-going with a plan to start case enrollment in April 2011 and control enrolment thereafter.

EMBLEM Tanzania

The Tanzanian Team continues with pre-implementation planning focused on setting up an office set-up at Bugando Medical Center.

EMBLEM Newsletter is a monthly on-line publication based on contributions of the EMBLEM Study staff.
Editor: Dr. Esther Kawira
Reporters: EMBLEM Uganda – Mike Mbaziira; EMBLEM Kenya – Pam Akinyi Were; EMBLEM Tanzania – Josiah Magatti