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Alumni Spotlight: Collaborating to support evidence-based health policies in Africa

Researcher at work

As a researcher, Dr. Simo is interested in developing data that will influence health policies in Africa, and essentially supporting global health organisations to conduct evidence-based health policy development. She recognises that now more than ever it is important for science to inform social health policy. 

How are you harmonising partnerships to strengthen health research in Africa?

I am part of the Global Yellow Fever laboratory network (GYFLaN) led by EYE which is responsible for yellow fever diagnostic and surveillance around the globe. We broadly provide diagnosis of suspected cases, validation of new diagnosis assays, redaction of the laboratory procedures and capacity building of countries that are prone to yellow fever diagnosis.  I also really value cross-institutional collaborations between African and leading research institutions in the global north. Through the Pasteur Institute international network, I work with the Institut Pasteur Bangui (Prof Emmanuel Nakoune) and Institut Pasteur Paris (Dr Nicolas Berthet) for capacity building and on research projects on emerging and re-emerging viruses in Central Africa. Recognising the gap in capacity and resources also encourages me to partner with Enveloped virus, Vector and Immunotherapy (EVIR) team of the Centre International de Recherche en Infectiologie (CIRI) at the University Claude Bernard of Lyon working closely with Dr Francois-Loic Cosset and Prof Vincent Legros; and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine with Prof Philip McCall. Through this I receive advise on research and specific expertise that is currently unavailable in our context.

Within the region and through my participation in various regional fellowships, I am part of the CLIMADE-AFRICA network led by Prof Tulio de Oliveira which aims to improve the molecular characterisation of mosquito-borne viruses in Africa through training and free sequencing which is currently being conducted in four excellence centres based in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. 

Tells us how your recent role as an African Academy of Sciences Affiliate will support your work

AAS Affiliate program promotes professional growth of young and early-to-mid-career scientists through mentoring, grant writing, scientific communication, research ethics, and networking. Therefore, it is a good opportunity for me to build my profile as a researcher working in the field of emerging and re-emerging viruses. Indeed, it will give me the opportunity to collaborate with other scientists interested in the impact of climate change on mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and yellow fever. I am particularly hoping to connect with researchers who are interested in studying the effect of flooding on mosquito proliferation and disease transmission in previously non endemic regions or the importance of sensible diagnosis protocols for a timely detection, monitoring and control of outbreaks.

This opportunity will directly impact health research in my country and Africa as it will result in the establishment of long-term collaborations leading to applications to international funders such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation addressing health-related research gaps on public health issues in Africa. Providing local research outcomes to policy actors is essential to achieve tailored interventions specific to local contexts.

About Dr Huguette SIMO

Dr. SIMO is an early career virologist specializing in the field of molecular epidemiology of emerging and re-emerging viruses. After the completion of her bachelor’s degree in Cameroon, she benefited from a scholarship from the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) for a master’s and Ph.D. degree in Gabon in the field of Infectious Tropical Diseases. Later, she pursued a postdoctoral fellowship in Cameroon under the partnership for Increasing the Impact of Vector Control (PIIVeC) program led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Since September 2022, Dr SIMO has joined the virology department of Centre Pasteur in Cameroon, as part of the yellow fever regional reference laboratory and Arbovirus team. Through national, regional, and international collaborations, she investigates the viruses responsible for acute febrile illnesses like malaria including chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, and zika in Cameroon, Gabon, and the Central African Republic (CAR). Additionally, she is interested in zoonotic viruses including Rift Valley fever virus and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever viruses.  

You can look find publications by Dr. Simo below:

  • Huguette Simo Tchetgna, Francine Yousseu Sado, François-Loïc Cosset, Natalia-Bezerra Freitas, Basile Kamgang, Philip J. McCall, Roland Ndip Ndip, Vincent Legros, Charles S. Wondji. Molecular and serological evidence of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus prevalence in livestock and ticks in Cameroon. Accepted in Frontiers in Cellular and infection microbiology. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2023.1132495 
  • Huguette Simo Tchetgna, Stéphane Descorps-Declere, Benjamin Selekon, Sandra Garba-Ouangole, Xavier Konamna, Mathieu Soungouza, Gaspard Tekpa, Pierre Somse, Emmanuel Nakoune, Nicolas Berthet. Continuous Circulation of Yellow Fever among Rural Populations in the Central African Republic. Viruses. 2022 Sep 12;14(9):2014. doi: 10.3390/v14092014. 
  • Francine Yousseu Sado, Huguette Simo Tchetgna, Basile Kamgang, Doumani Djonabaye, Emmanuel Nakouné, Philip J. McCall, Roland Ndip Ndip, Charles S. Wondji. Seroprevalence of Rift Valley fever virus in domestic ruminants of various origins in two markets of Yaoundé, Cameroon. PLoS Negl Trop Dis . 2022 Aug 11;16(8):e0010683. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010683. eCollection 2022 Aug. 
  • Francine Sado Yousseu, Huguette Simo Tchetgna, Basile Kamgang, Doumani Djonabaye, Philip J McCall, Roland Ndip Ndip, Charles S Wondji. Infestation rates, seasonal distribution, and genetic diversity of ixodid ticks from livestock of various origins in two markets of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Med Vet Entomol. 2022 Sep;36(3):283-300. doi: 10.1111/mve.12589. Epub 2022 Jun 3. 
  • Huguette Simo Tchetgna, Francine Sado Yousseu, Basile Kamgang, Armel Tedjou, Philip J McCall, Charles S Wondji. Concurrent circulation of dengue serotype 1, 2 and 3 among acute febrile patients in Cameroon. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2021 Oct 25;15(10):e0009860. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009860. eCollection 2021 Oct. 
  • Nicolas Berthet, Stéphane Descorps-Declère, Camille Besombes, Manon Curaudeau, Andriniaina Andy Nkili Meyong, Benjamin Selekon, Ingrid Labouba, Ella Cyrielle Gonofio, Rita Sem Ouilibona, Huguette Dorine Simo Tchetgna, Maxence Feher, Arnaud Fontanet , Mirdad Kazanji, Jean-Claude Manuguerra, Alexandre Hassanin, Antoine Gessain, Emmanuel Nakoune. Genomic history of human monkey pox infections in the Central African Republic between 2001 and 2018. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 22;11(1):13085. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92315-8. 
  • Huguette Simo Tchetgna, Stephane Descorps-Declère, Benjamin Selekon, Aurelia Kwasiborski, Mathias Vandenbogaert, Jean-Claude Manuguerra, Antoine Gessain, Valérie Caro, Emmanuel Nakouné, Nicolas Berthet. Molecular characterization of a new highly divergent Mobala related arenavirus isolated from Praomys sp. rodents. Sci Rep. 2021 May 13;11(1):10188. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-88046-5. 

Published: 22 March 2023