Leon Mutesa, MD, PhD

Professor of Human Genetics, Director of Center for Human Genetics College of Medicine and Health Sciences University of Rwanda

Prof. Leon Mutesa is Director of Center for Human Genetics at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences-University of Rwanda. He obtained his MD from the university of Rwanda in 2003 and his PhD in 2009 from the university of Liege-Belgium where he also completed his post-doc in 2011. Throughout his career he has been immensely involved in clinical services, academics, research, capacity building, and management in the health sector. He served as the Director of Department of Clinical Laboratory Dept. at the Kigali University Teaching hospital, which is the largest referral hospital. He has been Director General of Medical Research Center in Rwanda Biomedical Centre under Ministry of Health, where he coordinated health related research activities in all national medical institutions. Since starting his genetic career, Prof. Mutesa has pioneered new developments and implementation of a reference centre for medical genetics in Rwanda, which is the only one in the East African Region. He has advocated for health insurance coverage for genetic examination for patients in Rwanda and currently, most health insurances cover the karyotype exam, a test to see whether the number of someone’s chromosome number normal and other cytogenetic and molecular tests is. He has supervised/mentored more than 80 MSc, MMed, PhD, and Post-Doc fellows from Rwanda and from overseas universities. He has published over 140 peer-reviewed papers. Prof Mutesa is a member of various expert committees and has led various regional and international research consortia and fora. Over the past 15 years he has participated in several international research and training collaborations.Currently, he is dual-PI/PD of a NIH grant- National Cancer Institute (NCI)- U54-HIV/HPV Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Pathogenesis: Rwanda/Einstein (1U54CA190163-01), the goal of this project is to screen for HPV in a large cohort of HIV+ women and MSM population. He also serves as PI of NIH/H3Africa grant – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-U01-Transgenerational Epigenomics of Trauma and PTSD in Rwanda (1U01MH115485-01) with aim to characterize the transgenerational transmission of epigenomic impact of genocide exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women survivors of the Rwandan genocide and their offspring. In addition, he is PI of other research grants in various aspects including cytogenetic and molecular studies, precision medicine, forensic science, malaria, and newborn screening among others. He has served as an expert advisor and consultant on HIV issues to various organizations and programs, including UNICEF, and UNAIDS. He is currently coordinating Rwandan Task Force for COVID-19 laboratory testing under WHO consultancy. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Rwanda, Dr Mutesa and his research group have implemented various research projects aiming at building human capacity for SARS-CoV-2 laboratory diagnostic and management. Together with his group they have recently published a Nature’s paper on pooling testing strategy (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2885-5 ) which shows a cost-saving approach for better use of SARS-CoV-2 limited testing resources.