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Department of Medical Biochemistry


Welcome to the website of the Department of Medical Biochemistry at the School of Medicine of Maseno University!

The department was established in 2011 with a two-year curriculum course work at the School of Medicine Maseno University. Presently, the department has three faculty members of diverse background. The faculty is supported within the department by a very committed five technical staff. The department is expanding to include BSc and MSc programmes in Biochemistry.

We offer medical biochemistry courses for the students undertaking MBChB and Nursing Sciences during their first two years of training. Medical biochemistry course is intended to expose students to the biochemical point of view of the structure and function of normal and diseased organisms in medical applications.

Our courses are intensive and specifically designed to enhance a student’s medical training. Core areas covered include; basic organic chemistry, structural biochemistry, metabolism, molecular biology, molecular genetics, molecular virology, neurochemistry, biochemical endocrinology, drug metabolism, parasite and bacterial biochemistry.

The department also supports graduate students from different faculties and schools in the development of independent research projects in biochemistry. Most of our research aims at answering fundamental questions at the levels of molecules, cells and organisms. Areas of interest include, but are not confined to, mRNA expression and translation, biochemical, immunological and genetic mechanisms of effector molecules, macromolecular structure, functions and interaction.

We hope the website will be useful to you in finding information concerning the department.


The mission of department of Medical Biochemistry at the School of Medicine is to educate students in medical biochemistry science as it is linked to health of people in order to produce competent and responsive health professionals.


The department of Medical Biochemistry will continue to remain visible and reputable in Maseno University, nationally, regionally and internationally as a center of high quality teaching, research and community service for our students, faculty and staff. The faculty and staff will be committed to advancing our understanding of diagnostic medicine and clinical research in a multi-disciplinary and strategic collaborations to facilitate student, faculty and staff development. Students who graduate from our programs will gain the most current, relevant and useful information in order to be more knowledgeable, technically competent, and be prepared to work in a diverse environment. The department will be committed to multi-disciplinary and strategic collaborations that will be mutually benefiting for both parties. All faculty, students and staff will work as a team and to the best of their abilities to fulfill the department’s mission.


Areas of research interest by our faculty and staff include:

i. mRNA expression and translation, emerging tools for molecular diagnostics.
ii. Biochemical, immunological and genetic mechanisms of effector molecules, and
iii. Bimolecular structure and dynamics, applications of nanotechnology to study single molecules and macromolecules


The government of Kenya is targeting elimination of communicable conditions, halting and reversing the ever-rising burden of non-communicable diseases, provision of essential health services, improving access to services, and improving quality care and strengthening collaboration with health related sectors. Maseno University, has a major role to play towards achievement of these targets through cutting-edge research, training of health key professionals, offering specialized clinical diagnostic and research services. Riding on the strength of the Memorandum of Understanding between Maseno University and Kisumu County government to use the JaramogiOgingaOdinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) for teaching, research and outreach purposes, the department of Medical Biochemistry was granted permission by the University senate to establish the above laboratory in partnership with like-minded private partners. This facility is currently hosted at the Kisumu Hospice located within the JOOTRH.


The Department of Medical Biochemistry supports two (2) Degree Programmes in Medicine and Nursing as listed below. The third programme, a BSc. in Biochemistry Degree is under development. The courses covered by the Deparment for respective years of study are as indicated.

  •  Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) Degree 
    • Year 1 : MBS 102: Medical Biochemistry I. 6 UNITS
    • Year 2 : MBS 202: Medical Biochemistry II. 6 UNITS
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree
    • Year 1 : MNS 102. Medical Biochemistry I & II. 4 UNITS
  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry Degree
    • Years 1-4 : BSc. Biochemistry (Under development)


To meet student expectations, changes in technology and population and to allow for a more dynamic interaction between the student and faculty, the following teaching modes are used in the delivery of the content:

i. Small Group Tutorials: A faculty and small group of students organize for regular sessions to help the student develop problem-solving skills.
ii. Didactic Lectures: Faculty delivers lectures to student population ranging between 30 and 90 students using technology such as PowerPoint and video. 
iii. Laboratory Instructions: We undertake basic experimental techniques to develop skills in the laboratory.
iv. Problem-Based Learning: This is an integrated student-centered method of learning and problem-solving to adequately prepare students for clinical experience. 
v. Computer Assisted Instructions: This is student-center learning that improves visual literacy and in data searching, integration and analysis. 
vi. Departmental Seminars: The Faculty and students participate in the research seminars scheduled in the School of Medicine that debate emerging areas of research and our students are given opportunity to present, develop critical thinking and communication skills.


Dr. Benson Nyambega (Ph.D.)
Senior Lecturer, Medical Biochemistry Department
Director, Publications, Research and Innovation, Maseno University (PRI)

Research Description
Sub-species of the African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, transmitted by tsetse flies, are the causative agents for African Trypanosomiasis, a neglected disease exerting significant mortality in man and livestock in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the only few drugs available are toxic, expensive or significantly ineffective hence the need for new targets of trypanocides. Our research focuses on specific molecular mechanisms in trypanosomatids including the ribosomal stalk, which plays a critical role during the elongation step of protein synthesis and the trans-spliceosome, a dynamic and flexible ribonucleoprotein-enzyme that removes intronic sequences in a regulated, stepwise process. There are key differences between the mammalian and trypanosome complexes, the characteristics of the proteins involved and their corresponding interactions with other proteins and mRNA. We are devoting our efforts and pooling resources with our collaborators to identify and characterize the protein components involved. If essential for parasite viability, such molecules could be targeted for a rational design of novel trypanocidals.

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Wilson Okumu (Ph.D.)

Lecturer, Medical Biochemistry Departmen


Research Description

A phospholipid vesicle is a self-assembled biological material that is promising in producing giant unilamellar phospholipid vesicles (GUVs) for mimicking living cells for biomedical studies of biological membrane. A biological membrane plays a critical role in diverse biological processes. Previously, we utilized fluorescence imaging, optical tweezer and light scattering to determine the pore closing dynamics of GUVs of phospholipids vesicles of different composition and in the presence of cholesterol of varied concentrations. In this research, the line tension force in GUVs was found dependent on lipid composition. Currently, and with the support of our collaborators, we are interested investigations of reconstituted trans membrane Wilson copper ATPase gene ATP7B in liposomes. These studies will provide knowledge of the functional principles of the Wilson ATPase in a purified, reconstituted system.

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Samuel Bonuke Anyona (Ph.D.)
Lecturer, Medical Biochemistry Department
Secretary, Maseno University Ethics Review Committee (MUERC

Research Description

Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, and is among the leading cause of hospital related inpatient morbidity and mortality, especially among infants and children below five years of age and pregnant women. Among the life-threatening complications of severe falciparum malaria is severe malaria anemia [SMA; hemoglobin (Hb<5.0g/dL)], the common clinical manifestation in western Kenya. Understanding the role of inflammatory biomarkers will help decipher immune dysregulation processes involved in severe malaria pathogenesis. Current research interests, intercalated in a larger study investigating the ‘genetic basis of severe malarial anemia’ are to understand the roles of effector molecules in condition susceptibility to severe malaria outcomes in pediatric populations living under intense malaria transmission regions of western Kenya. Specifically, we are investigating the effect of acquisition of falciparum malaria pigment (hemozoin) on the production of prostaglandin (PG)-E2 and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 gene expression in children with SMA and their effects on the erythropoietic pathway. In addition, we are assessing the role of variations within the promoter region of the COX-2 gene in conditioning the pathogenesis of severe malaria and effects on PGE2 production. These studies will provide knowledge that would inform efficient clinical management of patients with poor malaria prognosis as well as identify potential drug or vaccine targets or molecules.

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Mr. Joseph Muga
Senior Technologist, Medical Biochemistry Department


Research Description
My research interests are in the application of nanotechnology in the design of nanoparticulate drug delivery system for the delivery of antimalarial drugs to their site of action. Chloroquine was the mainstay of antimalarial chemotherapy because of its safety, efficacy and at relatively cheap price. However, the emergence of chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites has rendered this drug ineffective in most regions where malaria is endemic. Most antimalarial drugs that act through blood-stage-specific mechanism are no longer effective due to parasite resistance while the costs for development of new drugs continue to rise. Ligand-mediated nanoparticulate drug delivery system has the potential to mitigate chloroquine resistance mechanisms and provide a potential cure for malaria. We optimize the previously synthesized chloroquine-loaded heparin surface functionalized solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN). Parasitized red blood cells express Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 on their surface, which is not expressed by uninfected red blood cells (RBCs). Heparin binds to this protein, thus the selectivity towards infected red blood cells (iRBCs). The morphology of the prepared nanoparticles will be studied using scanning electron microscope (SEM). The optimized SLN will be subjected to antiplasmodial activity tests to determine their effectiveness as antimalarial drug candidate. It is envisaged that the optimized CQ-Hep-SLN will exhibit enhanced antiplasmodial efficacy .The results obtained will inform future research in use of nanotechnology in the design of novel drug delivery system for malaria and other infectious diseases.

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Mr. Victor Ongas
Technologist, Medical Biochemistry Department

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Mr Isaiah Kimutai
Technologist, Medical Biochemistry Department

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Ms Lillian Atieno
Laboratory Assistant, Medical Biochemistry Department

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Mr. Shadrack Sanjro
Laboratory Assistant, Medical Biochemistry Department

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Department of Medical Biochemistry