Dr. Siana Nkya (Research Technical Lead)

Dr Nkya has conducted genetic research in sickle cell disease for 10 years. The primary focus has been to identify the genetic determinants of fetal haemoglobin (HbF) and as part of her PhD, she was able to establish a genetic database of more than 1700 individuals with SCD. This data is available for investigation of genetic variants associated with SCD phenotypes. During her training she has worked closely with the Molecular Hematology department, King’s College London led by Professor Thein, now based at NHLBI and the medical genetics group at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI).

Dr Nkya has gathered extensive knowledge and built networks that support SCD genetic studies in our country. In 2015, she was a part of the team that established the newborn screening programme for SCD in Tanzania and she has gained experience in setting up a laboratory for screening SCD. Although newborn screening is a healthcare programme, it provides opportunities to study and set up preventive interventions including genetic diagnosis of SCD disease modifiers at birth. From 2016, She started to develop independent research on the genomics of HbF and HbF interventions through various awards including the Fogarty Global Health Fellowship sponsored through the University of California, American Society of Hematology Global Research Award (2018-2020) and more recently the Emerging Global Leader award by Fogarty International Center (FIC, 2019-2024).

She has taken part in SPARCO Research Working Group as SPARCO provides her with an opportunity to extend her studies outside of Tanzania. She has led a successful application on SCD disease modifiers awarded by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) (2020-2023) which will involve Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania sites. Through the experience she has gathered in human genetics and her passion to build genetic capacity in Tanzania, in 2017, she co-founded the Tanzania Human Genetics Society (TSHG) and she is the current President.