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IDRC Laboratories

In 2005, the MU-UCSF Research Collaboration acquired an old laboratory on the campus of Mulago Hospital. The laboratory underwent a major renovation and it now has excellent capacity for molecular research. The laboratory is directed locally by Dr. Sam Nsobya, Bsc. Msc. PhD, Makerere University, IDRC and by Professor Philip Rosenthal, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco.
In 2008, IDRC appointed Dr. Sam Nsobya as the director of the Laboratory Department, and Moses Kiggundu as assistant director, to provide oversight of the Molecular Research Laboratory (MOLAB) and the Tororo Research Laboratory (TOLAB).  These laboratories serve multiple clinical and laboratory research projects and surveillance programs taking place throughout Uganda.
Sam Nsobya Laboratory Director and Moses Kiggundu Lab Manager picture


The Molecular Research Laboratory (MOLAB) in Kampala is located on the campus of Mulago Hospital. xThe laboratory serves all of our clinical projects and surveillance projects in Uganda by providing confirmatory expert malaria microscopy for studies in Kampala and at our field sites. The laboratory also has routine capability (including PCR, RFLP analysis, and gel imaging and documentation) to genotype parasites for clinical outcome assessments and to characterize molecular markers of parasite drug resistance. In addition, it has the capacity for the culturing of malaria parasites.
Key features of the infrastructure available at our laboratory in Kampala include the following:  multiple microscopes, tissue culture biosafety hood, incubators, refrigerators, -20 °C freezers, -80 °C freezers, liquid nitrogen storage system, three PCR machines,  one real time PCR machine, power supplies, electrophoresis equipment, gel documentation system, magpix machine (luminex) and  two spectrophotometer/ELISA readers.  The laboratory infrastructure include:  generator back-up, with automatic start when there is a power cut. Other routine small equipment include: water baths, a pH meter, hot plates, stirrers, vortexers, pipetters, centrifuges and Millipore.

Current MOLAB activities:

  • » Serve as a central repository for the distribution of supplies to surveillance sites and the collection, collation, and storage of samples from surveillance sites
  • » Support laboratory components of surveillance activities.
  • » Capacity for the organization and storage of large numbers of samples
  • » Storage of blood components for immunological assays and perform Elisa assay
  • » Perform molecular studies to assess mediators of drug and insecticide resistance
  • » Oversee field assessments of insecticide sensitivity in anopheline mosquitoes
  • » Culture of malaria parasites
  • » Refresher training and site supervision for field lab techs


In 2009, TOLAB was established in Tororo Hospital complex at the IDRC Research Clinic, which now has capacity for molecular studies, culture of malaria parasites, and the harvesting of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to support translational molecular, parasitology, and immunology studies. The Tororo laboratories have extensive capacity for storage of samples at -80 °C and in liquid nitrogen, computerized databases for stored samples, generator power back-up, and high speed internet access, providing appropriate conditions for cutting-edge molecular research adjacent to our centers for clinical research.