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Biotechnology and Bioinformatics

  Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Research Directorate (BTBIRD) 



Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Research Directorate (BTBIRD) was established at AHRI in 2017. The aim of the directorate is improving medical care in Ethiopia by adopting and developing new or improved tools and methods for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases through various technologies including genomics, bioinformatics, immunology and molecular biology. Further, BTBID works to serve as a hub for technology transfer and capacity building in health biotechnology, genomics and Bioinformatics in universities and research institutes in Ethiopia.


As a cross-cutting directorate, it conducts research in a wide range of topics in collaboration with other directorates at AHRI.

Current areas of research

  • Preparation and evaluation of in house monoclonal antibodies against commercial antibodies for clinical and research use
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) preparation
  • Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Typing
  • Identification of anti-cancer molecules from animal products
  • Development of ELISA based assay for the detection of SARS-CoV-2
  • SARS-CoV-2 Recombinant protein production from transfected mammalian culture cells
  • Development of multiplex PCR test for the diagnosis of common granulomatous infectious diseases
  • Development of qPCR assay targeting MTb cell free DNA in urine and blood for the diagnosis of smear negative pulmonary TB and TB lymphadenitis patients
  • Development of In house viral load and drug resistance testing for different viral diseases such as HIV, viral Hepatitis
  • Genomics and bioinformatics analyses of host and or infectious organisms such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and SARS-CoV-2

Staff Profile

Dr. Markos Abebe, PhD
Lead Scientist and Director of BTBIRD
Email: markos.abebe@ahri.gov.et


Markos Abebe(PhD) is a Lead Scientist at the Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI) and Adjunct Associate Professor of Immunology at Addis Ababa University, Institute of Biotechnology. He received his BSC (in Biology in 1986) and MSc (in Parasitology/Immunology in 2001) from Addis Ababa University. He received his PhD from the University Of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2008 in TB immunology. He attended several relevant trainings in a number of European countries. He received the first AHRI Tore Godal Prize Award in 2001 for his contribution in infectious disease research, particularly on Female Genital Tuberculosis. His main research interest is in understanding the mechanism of host-parasite interaction and identification of biomarkers and development of diagnostics. He received grants from EDCTP and DFG for his postdoctoral research. Dr Markos published a number of scientific papers in peer reviewed journals and advised a number of MSc and PhD students. He is well experienced in research leadership and management and played momentous role in networking local and international research institutes in the advancement of medical research and training in the country. He became member of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences in February 2016. Currently he is leading the Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Research Directorate at AHRI.

Dr Yonas Kassahun
Email: yonas.kassahun@ahri.gov.et



Holds Phd in molecular genetics from university of Dublin, Ireland. During this period, I have worked on bioinformatics and Bayesian based statistical approach implemented for admixture mapping analysis of African cattle hybrid zones. The analysis gave a quantitative measure of the degree of chromosomal mosaicism in hybrid zones, the dynamics of genome introgression and identified regions with some evidence of the imprint of natural selection. My research focused on the application of bioinformatics models of admixture mapping to decipher complex genetic traits analysis. The study highlights for the first time using african cattle breeds to elucidate ancestral differences correlated for genetic susceptibility in Mycobacterium bovis using high density markers covering whole genome. Furthermore, african cattle phylogeography, genetic population structure and relevant quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis were described using bioinformatics inference and in relation to continental reference cattle genome data. Follow up position as postdoctoral fellow at AHRI focused on comparative genomics of M bovis using NGS data, pathogen genomics and bioinformatics training and supervision.

Dawit Hailu 
Associate Researcher I
Email: dawit.hailu@ahri.gov.et


Dawit Hailu obtained his B.Sc. in Biological Sciences from Nagoya University, Japan in 2015. During this time, he worked on identifying novel substrate genes for the E3 ubiquitin ligases Asb 11 and Asb 13 using genetic and biochemistry techniques on mammalian culture cells. Then, he completed his masters at the same university in 2017, where he worked mainly on identifying novel substrate target gene for the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae E3 ubiquitin ligase DIA2, which plays role in invasive growth. Dawit has been trained on sample library preparation for next generation sequencing and is currently working on strengthening the DNA sequencing facility at AHRI together with Biotechnology and Bioinformatics team members.

Bethlehem Adnew
Project Data Manager, TBGEN
Email: bethlehem.adnew@ahri.gov.et


Bethlehem has earned her BSc Degree from HiLCoE School of Computer Science and Technology in Computer Science and currently studying her MSC Degree in Information Science and Systems at Addis Ababa University. She has worked in Software Development, Oracle Technical Consultancy, IT Management areas and in projects involving machine learning. She has interest in data science areas of big data analytics in Artificial Intelligence and Bioinformatics. Currently she is working in TBGEN Project data management and analytics of the human and bacteria sequenced genomic data and on the establishment of the Bioinformatics center.

Amanuel Zewdu
Computer Engineer
Email: amanuel.zewdu@ahri.gov.et


Amanuel is a computer Engineer interested in biological (Life) science. He obtained his BSc in Electrical and computer Engineering (Computer Engineering focus area) from Institute of technology, University of Gondar in 2017. His BSc Thesis Project was designing and implementing PDF to speech converting device for visually impaired people. He has a couple of certificates on computer related trainings. He is more interested and wants to pursue his career on machine learning regarding genomics. Currently, he is working in Bioinformatics team as an assistant data manager on a genetics study project called TBGEN.

Melaku Tilahun
PhD student
Email: melaku.tilahun@ahri.gov.et


Melaku Tilahun is associate researcher at the Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI) .He received BSc degree from Jimma University in Medical Laboratory Science and completed his MSc Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science with Diagnostic and Public Health Microbiology Specialty in Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He has worked as a Laboratory Manager of the Institute. During his stay at the institute he was participating in different research projects and he has published his works in different open access peer reviewed journals. Currently he has joined Arba Minch University, Ethiopia to study his PhD Degree in the field of Biotechnology with specialty of Medical Biotechnology. Melaku’s main research interest is studying the epidemiology and genomics of M.tuberculosisto understand the transmission dynamics and the genetic basis of antibiotic resistance and to provide information for current discrepancies between genotype and phenotype drug resistance.

Tewodros Tariku
PhD Student
Email: tewodros.tariku@ahri.gov.et


Tewodros Tariku is a PhD candidate at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, conducting his dissertation study on the genetic basis of podoconiosis, a non-filarial elephantiasis of the lower leg, that affects more than 1 million people in Ethiopia. He employed genome-wide association (GWA) analysis approach in diverse ethnic groups in Ethiopia to identify genetic variants that increase risk to podoconiosis, and findings suggest the involvement of variants located in the HLA-class II region. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bahir Dar University and a master’s degree in Microbiology from Addis Ababa University. He is interested in the application of data analytics and data science tools to health and biological data to generate new evidences and improve decision making in public health and basic research.

Elena Hailu
PhD  Student
Email: elenahailu@yahoo.com


Elena Hailu has been a researcher at AHRI since October 2003 and currently joined Institute of Biotechnology at Addis Ababa University to study her Ph.D. Emory University, USA provided her a support for PhD work through NIH/Fogarty International Center Global Infectious Diseases grant.Previously, she obtained her MSc degree in Biochemistry with distinction from Moscow Academy of Veterinary medicine and Biotechnology, Russia in 1993. Her main research interest is to investigate how TB pathology might be influenced by Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain diversity. She was part of the group that discovered and characterized the new Lineage 7 of M. tuberculosis in Ethiopia. She was a winner of “Association of Physicians Links with Developing Countries Scheme” and got training in Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UK. She attended several courses, workshops and conferences aboard. She has a list of publication in peer reviewed journals. Elena is committed to the capacity building in Ethiopia particularly establishing the sequencing facility at AHRI.

Dr Rosa Tsegaye
Data Manager
Email: rosa.tsegaye@ahri.gov.et



Rosa Tsegaye is project data manager at Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI). Mainly, she is working on scientific research. Her research interest is on bioinformatics. She has completed her Ph.D in data science from Hildesheim University, German. The focus of her research was on machine learning for natural language processing. Before her Ph.D, she was working in Yahoo! Research lab as an intern data scientist. Prior to that she received her second masters in data mining and knowledge management from different Europe universities (Université Lumière (France), Polytech’Nantes Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale (UPO), Alesandria (Italy), Universitat Polit ècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Barcelona (Spain), Universitatea Politehnica din Bucuresti, Bucharest (Romania)), and her first masters in networks and distributed systems from Chalmers University, Sweden. She received her bachelor degree from Arba Minch University in computer science and information technology.

Bisrat Bekele
Associate Researcher
Email: bekelebisrat79@gmail.com


Bisrat Bekele is associate researcher with extensive expertise in pharmaceutical formulation and characterisation techniques, cell culture, xenograft studies, analytical and biochemical assays. He completed his honours BSc degree in pharmacy at the National University of Lesotho, Lesotho, in 2016. He then obtained his MSc degree in 2019 in Pharmaceutical Sciences from DSI/NWU Preclinical Drug Development Platform, North-West University, South Africa. In his master’s project, he studied the anticancer activity of combined phytochemicals against lung cancer in both in vitro and in vivo studies (https://repository.nwu.ac.za/handle/10394/35970). In 2020, he was engaged in a client project on evaluating the antibacterial activity of a formulation against Helicobacter pylori. His main research interests are in drug development, medical diagnosis, therapeutics and biomedical areas. 


Mekdelawit Alemayehu
Assistant Researcher
Email: gelilamekdi@gmail.com


Mekdelawit Alemayehu received her BSc in Nurse and MSc in General Public Health. Previously she used to work at the National Blood Bank Service with major role and responsibilities including recruiting and screening blood donors, providing pre-donation educator and as phlebotomist. She joined AHRI as research assistant and assistant to the Director of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. She is currently involved in research project including Need assessment of IVIG and the effect of Maternal Helminth and TB coinfection on immune response to neonates and BCG vaccination.

Dr Tesfaye Gelanew
Senior Researcher
E-mail: tesfaye.gelanew@ahri.gov.et


Tesfaye Gelanew, PhD, is a Senior Researcher at AHRI. He obtained his PhD in Medical Sciences from Charte University of Medicine Berlin, Germany. He received a one-year researcher fellowship from London School Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London, UK to investigate the genetic recombination mechanisms of Leishmania donovani. Following a four -year postdoctoral fellowship at the CDC, Puerto Rico, USA, he earned a position as an Associate Service Fellow at the CDC, USA. His research studies mainly focused on the genetics and genomics of infectious diseases, and development of monoclonal antibodies and immunodiagnostic tests to the flaviviruses (e.g., dengue and Zika viruses). Most recently, he has led the development and validation of a SARS-CoV-2 IgG serum assay at AHRI and the subsequent use of this assay for estimating the seroprevalence among school children and among health workers. His current key research interests are: (a) immunological characterization of re(e)merging viral infections, including immune profiling of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in Ethiopia, and (b) discovery of antiviral antibodies that can be used as either immunotherapeutic or immunodiagnostic tools.


Dr. Markos Abebe, PhD
Lead Scientist and Director of BTBIRD
Email: markos.abebe@ahri.gov.et
Tel: +251911744583