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Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) was established in 2002 for the primary purpose of HIV vaccine development and building of vaccine testing capability in Uganda. It is one of the 5 international research sites established by the Department of Defense (DoD) United States HIV Research Program (MHRP), a program centered at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, Maryland. MUWRP’s main facility is centrally located in Kampala, within a short distance from the Makerere University College of Health Sciences where the MUWRP laboratory is located. The main facility includes the clinic, administrative and data offices.

In May 1998, the Honorable Crispus Kiyonga, the former Ugandan Minister of Health formally invited the US Army to conduct HIV and malaria research within Uganda. A program for vaccine research and development began in 1998 with the US Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) and the Henry M Jackson Foundation (HJF) forming a partnership with Makerere University. Initial collaborations were with the Rakai Project (currently the Rakai Health Sciences Program), a collaboration between Columbia University, John Hopkins University, Makerere University (MU) and the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) where the focus was development of infrastructure and definition of cohorts. In June 2002 a memorandum of understanding between Makerere University and The Henry M. Jackson Foundation was signed of establishing Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) as a non-profit partnership for purposes of conducting collaborative HIV and other research studies.

Since 1998, collaborative HIV research between Makerere University and the MHRP has focused on development of infrastructure, definition of cohorts, acquisition of appropriate products for evaluation, and clinical evaluation of these products. The core of the Makerere University Walter Reed Program’s effort has been to accomplish all activities required for initiation of phase III trials. A key component of these activities has been provision of HIV care including anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) through funding under the PEPFAR Program. Since 2007, MUWRP has broadened their scope of work to address other communicable disease threats as well.

In 2007, MUWRP joined with the DoD Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (GEIS) operated by the United State Army Institute of Research – Kenya (USARMR-K) to support Avian Influenza Pandemic Influenza (AIPI) surveillance activities in Uganda. This DoD-GEIS program was established in 1996 to strengthen the prevention of, surveillance of and response to emerging infectious diseases. The current MUWRP program supports surveillance of influenza and other emerging infections in animals and humans and collaborates with the Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Ministry of Health, Nature Uganda, CDC, USAID, the MU School of Public Health, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Memphis and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).

MUWRP has entered in a collaboration with The Joint Mobile Emerging Disease Intervention Clinical Capability (JMEDICC), an effort that is established to support the acquisition and fielding of a test and Evaluation capability for the US Food and Drug administration (FDA) approval of therapeutic medical countermeasures being developed by the DoD. The collaboration will implement an immediate, mobile response capable of conducting FDA regulated clinical trials of therapeutic or diagnostics during an outbreak event.

Legal Status

MUWRP is a company, limited by guarantee with no share capital, registered in Uganda under the companies Act on June 5, 2002 guaranteed by two organizations namely The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for advancement of Military Medicine Inc. of Bethesda, USA and Makerere University of Kampala, Uganda.