Dr. Peter Nthiga Mwangi obtained his Ph.D. at the University of the Free State – Next Generation Unit (UFS-NGS) and Division of Virology in 2021 through a full scholarship by the African Enteric Viruses Genome Initiative (AEVGI), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). His doctoral work investigated molecular epidemiology at the whole-genome level of rotavirus strains collected over a 14 year period in South Africa.
He is currently a post-doctoral fellow/Research Associate at the UFS-NGS Unit, which also serves as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) for Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPD) Surveillance and Pathogen Genomics, under the supervision and mentorship of Prof. Martin Nyaga. He serves in the secretariat for the VPD Focus Group (FG) arm of the Pathogen Genome Initiative (PGI) of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The key objective of the VPD FG is to develop a roadmap and implementation strategy for pathogen genomics research in the African continent.
His initial research interest was in phytomedicine, in which he attained a M.Sc. in the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Kenyatta University, Kenya. His study evaluated the therapeutic potential of phytomedicine by performing preliminary drug screening of selected medicinal plants (Harrisonia abysinicca Oliv and Landolphia buchananii (Hallier F.) stapf) using animal (Wistar rats and swiss albino mice) models. Thereafter, he joined the dynamic team at the UFS-NGS Unit to study enteric and respiratory viruses and viral vaccine surveillance.
His assignments at the UFS-NGS Unit involve performing whole-genome surveillance of rotavirus to decipher the impact of rotavirus vaccines’ introduction in Africa. He is also part of the UFS-NGS team working on sequencing of whole-genomes of SARS-CoV-2 in the Free State Province, South Africa, as part of the Network of Genomic Surveillance South Africa (NGS-SA) consortium that contributed to the discovery of the Beta and Omicron variants.