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The Bacterial and Viral Diseases Research Directorate (BVDRD) is one of the research directorates and has research teams: Bacterial and Fungal Diseases Research team and Viral Diseases Research team.

The main objectives of the Directorate is to undertake research activities in the areas mentioned below and contribute in medical research capacity building through supporting Msc and PhD students.

Current research areas:

  • Understanding aetiology and Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Assessing vaccine efficacy
  • Development of in-house PCR assays
  • Training

BVDRD has two case teams:

  • Bacterial & Fungal diseases Research
  • Viral diseases Research

Major Area of the Research

  • Clinical Genomics and Diagnostics
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Polymicrobial infections
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Host-pathogen interactions

Current Projects/Studies/Activities

Aetiology of Acute Meningitis and Production of Trans-Isolate media

A research project on surveillance and serogroup distribution of meningococcal meningitis among vaccinated and non-vaccinated Ethiopians is going to be initiated soon at AHRI. Around nine study sites will be enrolled so as to make the study in a wider scope than the previous study which showed the emerging of new serogroup (X) of N. meningitidis. It is expected that more numbers of serogroup X and W135 N. meningitidis will be detected through the wider scope study.

Bacterial Viral Diseases Research Directorate (BVDRD) has currently initiated production of trans-isolate media (TIM) supporting survival and live transportation of frequent bacterial meningitis etiologic agents such as N. meningitidis, S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae which are otherwise fastidious pathogens. Different batches of the media are all proved successful for viability and sterility tests carried out each time they are produced. Use of TIM is essential for successful culture diagnosis of bacterial meningitis especially when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples need to be transported to other lab where culture diagnostic facility is located far from sample collection site or when more than one hour is needed for culture detection. Hence the directorate is working on large scale production of the media to assist culture diagnosis of the bacterial pathogens causing meningitis.

Severe Typhoid in Africa (SETA)

SETA is a consortium project funded by IVI (International Vaccine Institute) through the BMGF (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) which aims to implement a blood culture (BC) based surveillance program that will allow for the collection of the information for disease burden, severity, cost of illness and immune response through a comprehensive & integrated sentinel surveillance design in six African countries (Ghana, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar). In this program, we employed a combination of passive facility based sentinel surveillance activities for febrile diseases at tertiary, secondary, and primary healthcare facilities where clinical and microbiological data prospectively collected from suspected typhoid and non-typhoidal salmonellosis taking into consideration the Typhoid Surveillance in Africa Program (TSAP) platform and data that was collected between 2012-2014 and data.

Viral Hepatitis

Chronic viral hepatitis is a major public health issue worldwide and mostly affects resource-limited countries. In collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health and five Universities (Addis Ababa, Gonadar, Hawassa, Haromaya and Jimma University), we are working on determining a rough estimate of viral hepatitis (HBV/HCV/HDV/HEV) and assessing the presence of regional difference in the magnitude of viral hepatitis among mothers and their children of 5-9 years old. Moreover, we are working on determining the serological and clinical efficacy of currently available HBV vaccines and estimating the burden of vertical transmission of HBV in Ethiopia at all five sites.

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society. It occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes, however, misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process and also. We are carrying out different studies to understand the magnitude of antimicrobial resistance and distribution of resistant genes in some bacterial species including S. aureus, S. pneumonia, E. coli, K. pneumonia, N. Meningitides and others.

Assessing vaccine efficacy

Vaccines offer the most cost-effective approach to controlling infectious diseases and Ethiopia has been engaged in expanding immunization services. However, very little is known about the efficacy of vaccines given to children. We are conducting different researches to know the efficacy of vaccines against pneumococcus, HBV, rota, and measles.

Development of in-house PCR assays

The cost of imported commercial kits is usually quite high and not affordable in resource-limited countries. As such, development and evaluation of a simple and cost-effective in-house PCR assay which is suitable for resource-poor settings is crucial. Currently we are working on developing in-house assays to test HIV drug resistance, HBV and HPV genotype.


  • One policy brief on meningitis prepared and submitted to MoH
  • Two EMJ special supplementary issues are under preparation from MoH funded clinical research on Hepatitis and Antimicrobial Research