Julie Makani is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow and Senior lecturer in the Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion at Muhimbili University, the main clinical, academic and research centre in Tanzania. Tanzania aims to develop excellence in genomic medicine to address some of the fundamental issues limiting research and healthcare in Africa. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is recognised as a ‘perfect model’ to test the paradigm of translating genome-based knowledge into health benefits because it is a monogenic disorder with considerable phenotypic variation and causes a significant burden of disease. Tanzania has recognised SCD as a major public health problem. With support from Wellcome Trust, Muhimbili has established a framework for research, which is integrated into providing healthcare and training biomedical scientists. Tanzania intends to use SCD as a model to establish scientific and technological solutions that are locally relevant but have global significance. Achieving success in SCD will illustrate that with effective global partnerships, significant advances in health and advancement in biomedical science can be achieved.
Dr Makani trained in Medicine at Muhimbili and completed her postgraduate training in Internal Medicine in the UK. She undertook her PhD in SCD, acquiring critical clinical-epidemiological skills. She is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and a research fellow, Oxford University. In 2009 she was awarded the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship for promoting excellence in biomedical science in Africa. She received the 2011 Royal Society Pfizer Award in recognition of her work in using anaemia in SCD as a model of translating genetic research into health benefit.