Aga Khan University Receives a SS h 19.6 Million Research Grant to Advance Cervical Cancer Testing in Kenya


The Aga Khan University (AKU) has been awarded a KES. 19.6 million research grants by the National Institutes of Health to perform clinical testing of a low-cost handheld 3D medical imaging device for detecting cervical cancer in Kenya.

The grant is part of a two-year KES. 261 million grant funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) which will be used to complete research and development and conduct clinical testing of the device at AKU in Kenya, the University of Science and Technology in Malawi and at Virginia Tech [VT] Carilion School of Medicine in the United States.

Dr Elkanah Omenge, Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, AKU Medical College, East Africa and Co-Principal Investigator in the grant said, “I am excited with this grant, which will enable AKU to make significant strides in addressing the burden of cervical cancer in the country. Our goal is to play a role in the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cervical cancer patients which will help combat this preventable disease.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, with around 660, 000 new cases in 2022. In the same year, about 94% of the 350,000 deaths caused by cervical cancer occurred in low- and middle-income countries. The highest rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality are in the sub-Saharan Africa region. In Kenya, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Kenyan women after breast cancer but is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Kenyan women. The burden is disproportionately higher in less developed regions due to limited access to preventative measures such as human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programs and effective screening strategies.

“We spent years in research and development, so we are now extremely excited to start clinical tests with patients in three countries. Being able to partner with health leaders at Aga Khan University has been an incredible opportunity for proving new life-saving technologies in the prevention of cervical cancer,” said Dr Joe Carson, the Co-principal investigator on this grant and Pensievision’s Chief Technology Officer.

In Kenya, the study which is in partnership with Pensievision, Inc., an imaging technology startup, will start in September 2024 and will be implemented at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, the Hospital’s outreach medical centres and at the community level.

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