HERI Kenya

Connecting scientists, community residents, and public officials to improve public health and environmental conditions in Kenya.

Our Mission

To empower scientists and community members to create healthier environments and communities through outreach, research, education, and advocacy.

Our Vision

To be a global leader in fostering collaborative efforts between scientists and communities, driving positive change at the intersection of health and the environment, for a healthier, resilient, and sustainable planet and communities.

Meet Our Co-Founders

Dr. Desiree LaBeaud

Desiree LaBeaud, MD, MS, Principal Investigator, is Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University and has worked on population-based studies of infectious disease transmission for the last fifteen years. She is a pediatric infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist. She is one of the few pediatric aerobiologists in the world, conducting research into the epidemiology, natural history, and the impact of climate change on global health aspects of arboviral diseases, primarily among mothers and children.

Dr. Francis Mutuku

Francis Mutuku, PhD, Co-INVESTIGATOR, is a research officer for the Division of Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases (DVBNTD) with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in Kenya, and with the Center for Vector Biology and Control Research with KEMRI in Kisumu, Kenya. Dr. Mutuku has over 6 years of experience studying the biology and ecology of malaria vectors. He has overseen study sites and data collection operations in coastal Kenya for a 5-year arboviral burden research study with Dr. LaBeaud.

Dr. Bryson A. Ndenga

Bryson Alberto Ndenga, PhD, Co-INVESTIGATOR/Project Manager, is a research officer at the Center for Global Health Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kisumu, Kenya. Dr. Ndenga has experience in both larval and adult ecology of mosquitoes in western Kenya, and has overseen study sites and data collection operations in western Kenya for a 5-year arboviral burden research study with Dr. LaBeaud

Managment & Staff Team

Left to Right > Said Lipi, Riziki Jasso, Francis Mutuku, Christine Lucas, Peter Siema

Juma Nasoro
Juma Nasoro Program Manager
Christine Lucas
Christine Lucas Administrator

Board of Advisors

Jeff Chow
Proffesor Charles Mbogo
Randi Shafton
Dr. Cosmas Munga
Bonnie Mbithi
Founding Board Team

The HERI-Kenya Team

Did you know HERI translates to good fortune or happiness in Swahili?

Our Story

As Pablo Picasso said “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” When I was in 7th grade, I told my best friend that I wanted to work in Africa one day. Back then, I could have never imagined what that would actually look like. Africa — specifically Kenya — has been an inseparable part of me since 2005, when I visited for the first time as a pediatric infectious diseases fellow. Since then, I’ve never been able to stay away from Kenya for long, visiting 2-3 times every year (except, of course, for 2020).

As a physician scientist and global health researcher, I’ve led efforts to stop the number one animal killer of people in the world: mosquitoes! Francis, Bryson and I have worked together to describe mosquito-borne infectious disease burden in communities, link mosquito breeding and disease risk to plastic trash, and conduct school and community-based interventions to prevent disease. As all of this work is done in collaboration with Kenyan scientists, team members, and community stakeholders, our decades-long research has led to improvements in quality of life and job stability for our team and improvements in health for the communities we have served, but there is so much more to do and so many more people to help. Pollution is choking the planet and the people of Kenya where lack of safe water and poor sanitation lead to infectious diseases and other environmental health risks. These problems are exacerbated in Kenya by strong cultural stigmas against collecting and working with trash.

Although we plan to continue to do good research, we can’t lead grass roots efforts to effect change where it is most needed with research alone. That’s why, after over 15 years of leading infectious disease research in Kenya, I am embarking on this new journey: starting HERI, an organization dedicated to alleviating some of these inequities by focusing on the interface between health and the environment. HERI is an initiative focused on Kenya working with and beside Kenyans to inspire community education, new research, policy change and grass roots activism in environmental health issues. Our outcomes will be both people- and planet-focused. Along with my long-term research collaborators, Francis and Bryson, we are co-founding HERI together. Our goal is to translate the power of scientific knowledge into messages that are actionable in the community, and to change the trajectories of health for our communities and our planet.

My favorite African proverb says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Please join us and be a part of the HERI village to launch a mighty force of caring into our hurting world. Karibu (Welcome in Swahili)! We want to convince you that this is just the beginning. There will be much more to share, do, create and become together as HERI unfolds. HERI means blessed or happy in Swahili. Your investment in this initiative is a blessing to the worldwide community and will bring you much happiness! Asante sana (Thank you very much in Swahili).

Dr. Desiree LaBeaud

HERI’s Closest Collaborators