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Dr Symon Kariuki (2022)

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Employing institution: KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Host institution: University of Oxford, UK

Project title: Deployment of high-density portable EEG system and computer modelling of EEG signals in rural Kenya.

Dr Kariuki qualified from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, following which he obtained a MSc (Epileptology) from King’s College London and DPhil (Clinical Medicine) from University of Oxford. Post-graduate training was supported by the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, where he has worked since 2009.

He has research interests in the epidemiology and evaluation of interventions to improve outcomes of neurobehavioural disorders in people in sub-Saharan Africa. He co-directs the Neuroscience research in Kilifi, Kenya alongside his scientific mentor Prof Charles Newton.

AREF Fellowship:

Non-invasive tests of brain activity called electroencephalograms (EEG) can detect abnormal traces in the brains of people with epilepsy even when there are no visible seizures or symptoms. The standard EEG commonly used in low- and middle-income countries is fraught with limitations, such as low sensitivity; time consuming process of recording and preparation; technical challenges of deployment in the field; and lack of human expertise for interpretation.

Collaborating with engineers, neuroscientists, and computer programmers from the University of Oxford, Dr Kariuki aims to develop and deploy a high-density portable EEG system for use in Africa. The proposed work will inform feasibility and intervention studies on utility of technological solutions in reducing diagnostic and treatment gap for epilepsy in Kilifi, Kenya.

His placement will be undertaken at University of Oxford, working with Professors Arjune Sen (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences) and Tim Denison (Biomedical Engineering (IBME)). KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research will provide research environment for acquisition of Kenyan EEG data to pilot the accuracy of the semi-automated classification of EEG signals, and contribute to my development as a scientific leader, through scientific mentorship and sponsorship for grant applications for the proposed post-placement intervention studies for evaluating HD-EEG prototype cap and e-app system.

“Electroencephalography is the window to the brain, and is as indispensable to a neuroscientist, as a handbook of medicine is to a physician.”