Prof. Zeleke Mekonnen is a Professor of Medical Parasitology at the Institute of Health Sciences in Jimma University. He has immense teaching, research and community service experiences and assumed institutional responsibilities at local and international levels.
Prof. Zeleke’s educational career begins at Embabo Primary School Horo-Guduru Wollega where he was born (5th of February 1970) and grew up. He attended his junior secondary school at Kombolcha and high school at Shambu Senior Secondary School. He received his Diploma & BSc in Medical Laboratory Technology from Jimma University (the then Jimma Institute of Health Sciences), Ethiopia. He also received his MSc in Molecular & Cellular Biology from Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, Germany. He got his PhD in Medical Sciences (Antwerp University, Belgium) & in Veterinary Sciences (Ghent University, Belgium), from a joint program. Currently, he is working as the Director of Health Research & Postgraduate Program for Institute of Health, at Jimma University.
Prof. Zeleke attended a number of trainings in varies analytical parasitological methodologies such as FLOTC, Mini-FLOTAC, McMaster, Pooling, FECPACKG2, Chromatography techniques, Expression & Purification of tagged proteins along with numerous Molecular Biology Techniques at Ghent University, Belgium & Heidelberg University, Germany. Additionally, he had extensive trainings in Scientific & Grant Writing, Publishing in Scientific Journals, Design of Experiments, Good Clinical Practice (GCP), Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), Data Analysis, Interpretation & dissemination of results for which he received international certificates.
Immense teaching, research and community service related experiences
Prof. Zeleke Mekonnen has been involved in teaching, research and student advisory services for more than 25 years. He has been offering several courses to undergraduate and postgraduate (MSc & PhD) students at Jimma University and other Universities in Ethiopia. He has authored and co-authored more than 73 multidisciplinary research papers and published in national and international peer reviewed journals mainly in the areas of medical parasitology, diagnostic tools development and validations. He has served as reviewer and editor of different national and international journals. He has supervised more than 40 postgraduate (MSc & PhD) students at national and international universities and served as external examiner (MSc & PhD) across different universities in Ethiopia. Prof. Zeleke also presented his scientific findings throughout the world (Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Brazil, France, UK and Switzerland to mention a few) on different scientific forums, meetings and symposia’s. He also delivered scientific talks as internationally invited guest speaker (Tubingen University, Germany, & Global Health Oslo, Norway). With his research teams and collaborators, he developed field and different laboratory procedures (SOP) and posted on different international scientific web pages and you-tube channels for wider scientific community’s use. He served as a reviewer of research proposals, grant applications, research terminal reports, many conference abstracts & student projects including PhD applications/synopsis. Prof. Zeleke also chaired a number of different scientific forums & conferences at different times (both, nationally & internationally) that includes but not limited to Ethiopian Medical Laboratory Association (EMLA), Ethiopian Society of Tropical & Infectious Diseases (ESTAIDS), Ethiopian Society of Microbiology (ESM), Mettu University national scientific conference, JU annual scientific conferences, STARWORMS project consultative meeting-(assessment of global pattern of drug efficacy/ monitoring drug resistance) against STHs (Belgium). He served as a member of national advisory committee on NTDs control programme, as guest committee on the Ethiopian Onchocerciasis Elimination Expert Advisory Committee (OEEAC) meetings, as national steering committee for schistosomiasis/STH mapping in Ethiopia, & as active participant & consultant during mass drug administration(MDA) against STH & Schistosomiasis.
In addition to teaching & research, Prof. Zeleke has served in the university at various positions & has made successful contributions to the university & community at large that brought him to the level of full professorship at the University. Institutionally, he initiated & established Molecular Biology Research Centre & NTDs-laboratory at JU, which is currently one of the core research centre and providing research/teaching facilities across the university.
Collaborations made with different local and international organizations
Prof. Zeleke has coordinated a number of international projects that contributed to the betterment of Ethiopian health & the academia across the world. Prof. Zeleke Mekonnen was the Project leader (Infectious diseases) of Belgium Government sponsored VLIR-JU-IUC capacity building projects at JU in which different universities of Flanders partnered. Currently, he is serving as a project leader of Infectious diseases under the University collaboration for better health in Ethiopia (UCBHE) at JU in which four other universities of Ethiopia (Ambo University, Hawassa University, Addis Ababa University ( through its branch-Debre-Zeit College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture), & Jimma University) partnered. He was a steering committee member of a VLIR-JU-IUC (Belgian) funded project for more than 7 years & currently, he is serving as a local & international joint steering committee member of the UCBE project in the area of Infectious diseases to improve health of the community at large. Prof. Zeleke has been granted a number of grants for his research either as PI or co-PI in collaboration with institutions/scholars across the world. The following are examples of the grants & awards), to which some students are/were supported for their MSc & PhD research work. Research Grant from: i) WHO-Monitoring drug efficacy trial in school children in collaboration with Ghent University, ii) One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA), – Prevalence of Human and Cattle Hydatidosis in Jimma, iii) Techion Group, New Zealand – FECPAKG2as a tool to monitor drug efficacy in MDA programs to control STH in collaboration with Ghent University; iv)Janssen Pharmaceutical, Ltd-A Double-Blind, Randomized, Multi-Center, Placebo Controlled Clinical trial to Evaluate the Efficacy of a 500-mg Chewable Tablet of Mebendazole in the Treatment of STH Infections in Paediatric Populations, v) Howard University– Assessment of Bacteriophage Diversity in Jimma & its Environs; vi) Bill & Melinda Gates– Low-cost point-of care diagnosis of Cryptosporidium infection in resource limited settings in collaboration with Oslo University, vii) CDC-PEPFAR – Assessing the burden of brucellosis & development of prevention/control strategies in Ethiopia, viii) Bill & Melinda Gates– Validation of both automated quality assured egg counting system & molecular markers for monitoring the spread of anthelminthic resistance/STARWORMS Project, ix)) Global Health Security-CDC–Surveillance & Control of priority zoonotic diseases (Anthrax & Brucellosis) in selected zones of South-western Oromia, Ethiopia.
Responsibilities offered to him across the globe and the like
Prof. Zeleke has been awarded Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Travel Award (2013), VLIR-JU-IUCprogram PhD Scholarship (2010), Heidelberg University Scholarship (MSc study)& a one year Associate Researcher Position Awardby Prof. Dr. Herman Bujard Laboratory & worked on Vaccine development of Malaria (MSP-1 as potential candidate) project, 2005-2006, Heidelberg Germany. He is a member of various professional societies in Ethiopia & abroad. He has organized different national & international conferences in which a large number of professionals, policy makers & decision makers participated. Moreover, he played a crucial role in leading/ initiating community mobilization (sensitization) through organizing a local workshop for stakeholders (teachers, educational & health bureau representatives, unit leaders, community leaders & selected zonal office holders to advocated nature & benefit of research he & his team have been involved-in & disseminating the findings to solve the problems related to intestinal parasites. He has contributed his professional &community service by mobilizing external/internal stakeholders to furnish some class rooms, raised fund and supported selected students, served as founding &active member, of ‘Manbarnootaaf’ that has been supporting around seven schools around Gilgel Gibe areas. Prof. Zeleke promoted JU and participated in educating/mobilizing community using different mass Mediaslike EBC (ETV), OTV, Jimma FANA Radio- 98.1 and JU Community Radio 102.0 at different times. Prof. Zeleke Mekonnen is the life-long member of Ethiopian Red Cross Association and Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (FGAE) He is playing catalytic role as health advocacy contributor in the development of the overall health of the community.