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Non-communicable Diseases (NCD)()BDirectl Diseases Research

About NCD

The NCD activities at AHRI to date have principally involved cancer research, NCD risk factor screening in the context of the CEBHA international consortium, and Podoconiosis via the Welcome trust Brighton-Sussex medical school collaboration.



Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases and their risk factors are a growing threat to public health and development in Ethiopia. Recent studies in Ethiopia have confirmed that about half of all mortality in the country is due to non-communicable diseases, and of which the aforementioned diseases contribute significantly. The NCD research agenda has encompassed cancer, cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, as well as the neglected tropical disease podoconosis study. The directorate research is managed by staff and PhD/MSc students.

Research Focus

  1. Cancer

In the field of cancer research, we are concentrating on hematologic malignancies, including acute and chronic leukemia, Non-Hodgkins and Hodgkins Lymphoma. Much of the work at AHRI has focused on improved diagnostics and prognostics, hence our plan has been to gain research experience in modern methods of cancer diagnosis, apply these in clinical scenarios, and wherever possible to assist in the implementation of these strategies to clinical diagnosis in clinical care centers in the country. The diagnostic and prognostic tests run in the research includes flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and PCR and sequencing approaches to identify genetic abberancies. In addition, we have been conducting pharmacodynamic, pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetic studies on cancer chemotherapy drugs in order to better predict optimal therapeutic ranges of such drug with reduced toxicities.

  1. Cardiovascular disease risk

Our main project has been through the CEBHA consortium project involving multiple institutions throughout Africa. We are assessing new improved tools for cardiovascular disease risk screening at the community level. A second project is to define cardiovascular, metabolic, and neuropsychiatric co-morbities among persons with HIV, and explore barriers to adequate integration in the care of such patients. CEBHA is also exploring the impact of COVID 19 on care of patients with diabetic mellitus. Finally, the CEBHA team is actively engaged in capacity building for evidence-based health care approaches in the country.

  1. Podoconosis

Podoconiosis or non-filiarlial elephantiasis is a peripheral lymphoedema associated disease thought to be related to long term exposure of bare feet to red clay soil. Recent work exploring the genetics of podoconiosis has revealed a significant association with HLA-DRB0701 along with HLA-DQA201 and HLA-DQB201, all of which are in linkage disequilibrium. This strongly implies a T-cell mediated HLA class II restricted recognition of antigen presenting cells in the disease pathogenesis. Ongoing studies are aimed to define the activation status of T-cells and antigen presenting cells within patients, and also to assess the immune stimulatory properties of soil minerals such as silicates and beryllium in patients and matched controls.

Researchers at NCD 

Rawleigh Howe MD,PhD 

Senior Scientist, NCD Director

Email: rawleigh.howe@ahri.gov.et



Firaol Mesfin, MSc

Assistant Researcher,NCDRD Coordinator

Email: firaolmesfin8@gmail.com



Menberwork Chaneyalew, PhD

Researcher II

Email: menberwork chaneyalew@ahri.gov.et


Meaza Zeleke, MPH

Assistant Researcher

Email: meaza.zeleke@ahri.gov.et



Bezenash Geremew, MPH

Assistant Researcher

Email: bezi.geremew@gmail.com



Kiya Kedir, MPH

CEBHA project coordinator

Email: kiya.kedir@ahri.gov.et



Tigist Girma, MSc

Assistant researcher
Immunology Department




Haki Teklehaimanot, BA

Project Administration Officer

Email: hakiway@yahoo.com 



Hailemichael Getachew, MSc

Graduate student

Email: hailemichael.getachew@ahri.gov.et



Okop KJ,Murphy K, Lambert EV, Kedir K, Getachew H, Howe R, Niyibizi JB, Ntawuyirushintege S, Bavuma C, Rulisa S, Kasenda S, Chipeta E, Bunn C, Crampin AC, Chapotera G, King AC, Banchoff A,Winter SJ, Levitt NS. Community-driven citizen science approach to explore cardiovascular disease risk perception, and develop prevention advocacy strategies in sub-Saharan Africa: a programme protocol. Research Involvement and Engagement. 2021. In press.

Adam M, Bekuertsion Y, Abubeker A, Tadesse FT, Kwiencinska A, Howe R, Petros B, Jerkman M, Gebremedhin A. Clinical characteristics and histopathological patterns of Hodgkin lymphoma and treatment outcomes at a tertiary cancer center in Ethiopia JCO Global Oncology, 2021 in press.


Ahmed JH, Makonnen E, Bisaso RK, Mukonzo JK, Fotoohi A, Aseffa A, Howe, R, Hassan M, Akililu E. Population Pharmacokinetic, Pharmacogenetic, and Pharmacodynamic Analysis of Cyclophosphamide in Ethiopian Breast Cancer Patients. Front. Pharmacol., 23 April 2020.

Ahmed JH, Makonnen E, Yimer G, Seifu D, Bekele A, Assefa M, Aseffa A, Howe, R, Fotoohi A, Hassan M, Akililu E. CYP2J2∗7 Genotype Predicts Risk of Chemotherapy-Induced Hematologic Toxicity and Reduced Relative Dose Intensity in Ethiopian Breast Cancer Patients. Front. Pharmacology, 14 May 2019.


Ahmed JH, Makonnen E, Fotoohi A , Yimer G, Seifu D, Assefa M, Tigeneh W,  Aseffa A, Howe, R, Akililu E. Vitamin D Status and Association of VDR Genetic Polymorphism to Risk of Breast Cancer in Ethiopia Nutrients 2019 Jan 29; 11(2):289.

Postgraduate Students

PhD studies

Jemal Alemu

Assess the impact of Phenotyping by flow cytometry and Molecular Techincics diagnosis on clinical outcomes and therapy on leukemia patients.



Samuel Kinde
Gene Expression Profile of Bcr-Abl1 Fusion protein (P190, P210) versus Differential Sensitivity to Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Drugs’ Therapy among Ethiopian Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Patients



Yohannes Giorges
Pharmacodynamic, Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacogenetic Study of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) with Emphasis on Imatinib Mesylate in the treatment of the Ethiopian Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) Patients


Awol Mekonnen
Genetic analysis of prognostic markers and Pharmacogenetic study of 6-Mercaptopurine in acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients


Melatwork Tibebu

Flow and molecular analysis of Minimal Residual Disease for Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Makka Ali, Immunologic, Virologic and Genetic correlates of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Ethiopia

Esmael Besufekad, Evaluation of hormone receptors and other biomarkers breast cancer by immunhistochemistry and molecular approaches


Rawleigh Howe MD,PhD 

Senior Scientist, NCD Director

Email: rawleigh.howe@ahri.gov.et