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Dr Belinda Venance Kweka (2023)

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Picture of Dr Belinda Venance Kweka

Employing institution: National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania 

Host institution: London School of Health and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

Project title: Assessing the role of hemoglobinopathies and oxidative stress in diabetes among Tanzanian adults with and without HIV infection

Dr Belinda Kweka is a Medical Doctor with an MSc in Molecular Biology working at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Mwanza, Tanzania. While working with NIMR, she competed and won several fellowships which developed her interest in genetic diseases. She was motivated to be part of the AREF Research Development Fellowships to develop her skills and elevate her career goal of becoming a clinical research specialist of genetic diseases e.g., sickle cell disease/sickle cell trait, thalassemia etc., in relation to non-communicable diseases e.g., diabetes, hypertension, cancer etc.  

AREF Fellowship:

Diabetes Mellitus is emerging as a global health problem and many studies have reported oxidative stress to be part of its pathogenesis. Hemoglobinopathies are the common genetic disorder in Africa that generates high levels of oxidative stress hence associating with high risk of diabetes. Many have reported a positive effect of antioxidants on diabetes treatment among people without hemoglobinopathies but we have no evidence if these treatment methods will have the same impact in people with hemoglobinopathies.

Dr Kweka’s fellowship will help in assessing the level of oxidative stress in people with hemoglobinopathies and open channels for new studies that will investigate the impact of antioxidant in reducing the risk of developing diabetes among people with hemoglobinopathies. 

“LSHTM will help in developing molecular techniques of diagnosing genetic diseases. This will help in increasing experts in our institution for molecular laboratory.”

Belinda will work under the supervision of Suzanne Filteau and Susana Campino  at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UK. NIMR has a fully equipped molecular laboratory but few experts, with the trainings and courses she will attend at LSHTM during her fellowship, she will acquire skills in molecular techniques and samples analysisng that she will take back to Tanzania.