Two Kenyans among winners of best African Women Researchers MARS Awards 2021

Two Kenyans are among the 13 winners of best African Women Researchers and best Young African Researchers of Merck Foundation African Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2021.

Regina Wachuka Mbugua, a Research Scientist and Beatrice Mukami Muriuki a Research Fellow both from Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) together with other winners from 8 African countries were recognized for their valuable research work and contribution to empowering women and youth in STEM.

“I am very proud of all 13 winners who have been recognized under the 3 categories of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’, ‘Best Young African Researcher Award’, ‘Best Young African Researcher Special Awards’ for their valuable contribution, especially by African Female Scientists who are under presented in this field. Through Merck Foundation African Research Summit – MARS Awards, we aim to empower African young researchers & women researchers, advancing their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)”. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of MARS Summit said.

The award ceremony was also attended by Dr. Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, African Union – Scientific, Technical and Research Commission; Prof. Andrew Kambugu, The Sande-McKinnell Executive Director at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Uganda, and Prof. Elijah Songkok, Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Kenya.

 “I congratulate all the worthy winners of MARS Awards 2021. This is a very valuable platform for African women and young African researchers who are engaged and interested in health research”. Dr. Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, African Union – Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, said.

The winners of ‘Best African women Researchers Award’ and ‘Best Young African Researcher Award’ category will be enrolled into research training at a premier research institute in India.

The award ceremony was held in partnership with the African Union, through videoconference.

At the same time, Merck Foundation announced the Call for Applications for MARS Awards 2022. Applications can be submitted till 31st July 2022 via email to 

 ‘The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenges in Africa’ will be the key focus of this year. Eventually, through this contest, Merck Foundation aims to empower young African researchers & women researchers to strengthen the important role research plays towards contributing to public health thus improving healthcare capacity in Africa”, added Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Other winners of the MARS 2021 Award Winners included Temitope Adeyemo, Ebele Onuigbo from Nigeria and Njua Clarisse from Cameroon

Winners of “MARS Best Young African Researchers Awards were Touwendpoulimde Isabelle Kiendrebeogo from Burkina Faso,Jude Ogechukwu Okoye from Nigeria and Jean-Paul Ngbolua Koto-Te-Nyiwa from DRC

Jean Claude Djontu and Marceline Djuidje Ngounoue from Cameroon were named winners of “MARS Best Young African Researchers Special Awards”. Others included Jason Kilembe Thambwe from DRC, Okedi Francis Xaviour from Uganda and  Oppah Kuguyo from Zimbabwe.

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