Dr Eric Ochomo, 37

Head of Entomology

KEMRI
My Story

Growing up, Dr Ochomo, a senior research officer at Kenya Medical Research Institute – Centre for Global Health Research and Head for Entomology, wanted to be a truck driver.

“I admired people driving 14 or 24-wheeler trucks. I used to think of them as being in control and they had authority over the road. And they travelled far and wide,” he says. Now a PhD holder in biomedical sciences and technology, he is steering a department that studies insects.

Dr Ochomo joined Maseno University to pursue business administration, but stumbled upon biomedical sciences, and “it seemed fun.”

“I thought if it doesn’t work I would go back to business, after all, business seemed easy for me,” he says.

"Life doesn't always turn out the way you want it to, but one consistent thing is that life will always give you opportunities if you look keenly."

While on school break, he volunteered at Kemri’s entomology lab in Kisumu. At the end of his fourth year, a post-doctoral fellow from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was doing a project on mosquitoes in Siaya. As fate would have it, his fellowship ended abruptly in 2008, and Dr Ochomo was tasked to complete the project.

The results would later inform policies by the Ministry of Health around the deployment of nets and indoor residual spraying. Years later, he is still researching mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit.

“My research aims at reducing the burden of this disease,” he says.

The 37-year-old attributes his gains to the more than 100 people in his team who have made it possible for him to work on big projects that have attracted research grants.

He is an Honorary Fellow at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and a former Research Fellow at the American Society of Microbiology and Centers for Disease Control, in US. He also collaborates with multiple universities globally.

“Life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to, but one consistent thing is that life will always give you opportunities if you look keenly.”

For Dr Ochomo, mentorship has played a big role in the growth of his career. “I am mentored every single day by people around me because I am constantly learning from them.

Amina Wako