Mutuku MutingaMutuku Mutinga

Defying the Odds Award

It was uncommon for children in the tiny village of Machakos, Kenya, to complete the fourth grade. But Mutuku Mutinga is uncommon. Motivated by the devastation that malaria caused his family and homeland, he moved on his own to Uganda where he could pursue his primary and high school education. He worked, learned and eventually took his master’s degree from UMKC home to Kenya, where his research and dedication yielded patents and breakthroughs that would improve the lives of thousands suffering from malaria and insect-borne diseases.

Malaria was Africa’s number one killer when Mutinga was young, and he said he saw his education as a way he could make a difference. He began his fight against malaria when he was working toward his masters at UMKC and at the Harry S. Truman Research Laboratory. “It was UMKC and the research center that shaped my research and teaching career later,” Mutinga told Perspectives in 2009.

Upon graduating from UMKC, Mutinga returned to Nairobi, where he went to work for the Ministry of Health and earned his Ph.D. His research on insect disease cycles and innovations such as mosquito-killing cloth and the “Sticky Trap” were important advances in public health and insect control. Mutinga would go on to lead the Republic of Kenya’s Water Resources Management Authority, and he co-founded Kenya’s first chartered university. In 2010, he accepted the position of vice chancellor (the equivalent of president) of Rusangu University in Zambia. –Photo by Anne McQuary

Unwrapping the past
Against the grain

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