Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical MedicineEnlarge image The KCCR Laboratories
The KCCR is a German-Ghanaian research centre situated on the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, in the heart of Ghana. It is jointly operated by KNUST, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg and the Ghanaian Ministry of Health. Through its close cooperation with the Medical School and other related faculties, the KCCR has developed into the research
centre of the newly created College of Health Sciences in Kumasi. The research topics include the major local health problems like malaria, tuberculosis, river blindness (onchocerosis), elephantiasis and buruli ulcer.
Field- and laboratory studies are mainly supervised and monitored by staff of the faculty of medicine of KNUST and Bernhard Nocht Institute and offer opportunities of practical academic work and acquisition of modern laboratory techniques to students in diploma and graduate programmes.
The first permanent research station of the Hamburg Bernhard Nocht Institute was opened in 1968. The "Liberia Research Unit" was located on the concession of the Bong Mining Company, a mining company operating in the rain forest area of Liberia, at 125 km from the capital Monrovia. In 1990 the research station ceased to operate as a consequence of the civil war. In subsequent years provisional laboratories were operated in Benin, Uganda and Guinea.
After thorough feasibility studies Kumasi was chosen as the new location of a permanent research institution. The main criteria for the selection of Kumasi were the political stability of the region, the variety of regionally distributed tropical diseases and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology as a reliable partner in academic research. On 28 October 1997 the cooperation was formally sealed by the signing of a bilateral agreement between the Republic of Ghana and the Free City of Hamburg. The centre was officially opened on 19 February 1998.
By realizing the ambitious construction project of establishing a research campus of KCCR in Kumasi, since 2003 scientists from Ghana and abroad have additional opportunities to carry out modern biomedical research in the tropics and to enjoy the benefits of an excellent infrastructure in modern laboratory techniques and epidemiological field studies. The construction was carried out with sponsorship from Foundation Volkswagenwerk and the Association of Friends of the Tropical Institute Hamburg.
Since its inauguration on November 13, 2003, KCCR has established a number of operational laboratory units including parasitology, microbiology, molecular biology, immunology and virology. The constructional conditions for the virology laboratory fulfil the requirements for research work up to biological security stage 3.
The KCCR operates three permanent field laboratories:
- Agogo rain forest/humid savannah (malaria, buruli ulcer)
- Dunkwa-on-Offin, rain forest (onchocerciasis, buruli ulcer)
- Essiama, Atlantic coast (elephantiasis)
and furthermore cooperates with the Children's ward at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, in a clinical laboratory that is open 24 hours to children suffering mainly from severe forms of malaria.
Since 2000 the KCCR has supported the Postgraduate programme of KNUST by assisting 12 students in their further studies. Two postgraduate students of the department of microbiology of the Medical School and the department of biology of the science faculty have successfully completed their programmes and are currently pursuing PhD programmes in Kenya and the USA. Two out of three PhD students are currently working at the Bernhard Nocht Institute Hamburg and at the University of Bonn by continuing the research that they had started at KCCR. Eight students of a Master's programme are integrated in ongoing research projects of KCCR. Another six German doctoral students do part of their research work in Ghana doing field studies and laboratory work. In the framework of the research projects and the demands placed on adequate equipment of KCCR laboratory technicians and students are given the opportunity to continuously update and upgrade their skills. Part of the further training also consists in seminars that are open to all staff members of KCCR, students and researchers of all faculties and medical personnel.
KCCR has continuously extended and upgraded laboratory capacities and thereby adapted and developed techniques to meet the particular requirements of its operation. The projects meanwhile include essential aspects of tropical medicine. Intitial projects are established which exclusively provide partners outside KCCR with samples. The integration of KCCR into the research and medical environment becomes evident through training and further training, diagnostics (buruli ulcer and TB), therapy (onchocercosis, elephantiasis, TB and Malaria) of infectious diseases. The bilateral agreement, valid for 20 years, forms a basis for identifying and formulating health issues of the country and for implementing them in research programmes. Example: considerable progress has been made in the following areas: the clinical history of malaria in predominantly rural areas and the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of severe malaria with frequently lethal outcome, the factors of resistence of tuberculosis for a more effective therapy of the prolonged period of treatment, reducing the therapy period for the treatment of river blindness and elephantiasis from 10 years to 4-6 weeks, diagnostic methods for early detection of buruli ulcer by applying a molecular biology test. A confirmed result will be given to the regional hospital within 48 hours. Thereby the long term consequences (restricted movement, amputation of limbs) can be effectively reduced.
We are looking forward to producing a great number of researchers trained at KCCR who will be able to place their acquired knowledge at the service of the University and who will use KCCR as a platform for research in tropical medicine. KCCR was made the reference centre for Buruli ulcer in Ghana.
Dr. Thomas Kruppa
Prof. Ohene Adjei
Tel: 00233-51-605 12