Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI)


AHRI is a Biomedical research Institute in Ethiopia which is working in tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, Leishmaniasis, training and reaserch capcity building. AHRI is undergoing reform to transform itself to be an institute embracing research agenda which will have direct impact in development and transformation of population in Ethiopia and Africa. Involvement with EACCR will help AHRI to achieve it mission through capacity building and collaborative projects addressing regional and continental health issues. Besides AHRI can contribute to EACCR members through provision of training in Bioethics, GCP, and biomedical informatics. AHRI has played a key roll in institutionalizing Bioethics and is the home office for PABIN ( Pan African Bioethics Initiative)


Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI) has got its name from the Norwegian physician, Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who first described the leprosy bacillus (Mycobacterium leprae) for the first time on 28 February 1873 and indeed was first to link a chronic infectious disease in humans to a microorganism. This happened in 1873, nine years before Robert Koch presented M. tuberculosis as a cause of human tuberculosis. It is a government institute for modern biomedical research particularly related to mycobacterial infection.

AHRI was founded in 1969 through the initiative of the Norwegian and Swedish Save the Children organizations seconded by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia . The choice of Addis Ababa and Ethiopia for this endeavor came through the long-lasting good relation between the Nordic countries and Ethiopia .

But there were other site specific reasons as well. AHRI was erected next to a large hospital (ALERT – All Africa Leprosy Rehabilitation and Training Center ) for leprosy patients with both in-patient and a large out-patient service. This hospital was connected to a leprosy control unit, which was responsible for the field control of leprosy in the surrounding region with approximately 10 million inhabitants. In addition, a center for training of leprosy workers was also present on the large compound and thus the idea was that a combination of patient care, field control, research and training would make a dynamic composition.

When AHRI was founded, cellular immunology was starting to enter biomedical research on a large scale and immunological approaches have since then dominated the research profile of AHRI.

More than 350 papers in peer reviewed journals have been published from AHRI during its 37 years of existence. In addition, it has also produced a substantial number of theses and dissertations from international and Ethiopian scholars in biomedical research.

Among the more important scientific contributions that came out of AHRI/ALERT is the description of the mechanism of action of high dose steroids in reactional leprosy and the demonstration that specific immunological unresponsiveness in lepromatous leprosy could be reversed by up regulation of cytokines. AHRI/ALERT was also involved in demonstrating the first cases of Dapsone resistant leprosy which led to the WHO initiative of multi-drug treatment (MDT) of leprosy.

The first Director of the Institute was Prof. Morten Harboe, a nestor in mycobacterial research and a member of AHRI Board until 1996. Dr. Tore Godal, subsequently Director of The UNICEF-UNDP-World Bank-WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and later Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) was its director from 1970-1975. Subsequent Directors included Dr Göran Kronvall (1973-75), Dr Ayele Belehu (1977-83), Dr Gunnar Bjune (1984-85), Prof Sven Britton (1985-86) (1997-99), Dr Rolf Kiessling (1986-88), Dr Dominique Frommel (1988-93), Dr Häkan Miörner (1993-95) and Dr Fisseha Haile Meskal (1999-2002). The current Scientific Director is Dr Howard Engers (2003-), formerly Vaccine Discovery Research Manager, Disease Coordinator (Leprosy, Dengue) and focal point for Research Capability Strengthening, Ethics Review and Initiative for Vaccine Research (IVR) at TDR.


  • Develop tools for prevention, control and treatment of mycobacterial and other diseases of public health importance through applied and basic biomedical research and training.


  • Conduct basic and applied biomedical research
  • Develop and strengthen research manpower
  • Build research capacity in collaboration with research institutes


  • Conduct research with relevance to disease control, particularly in tuberculosis, leprosy, leishmaniasis and other diseases of public health importance including malaria and HIV in Ethiopia
  • Generate funds for research through competitive grant applications
  • Train MSc and PhD students at national level
  • Implement quality control/assurance of laboratory procedures (GCP and GLP)
  • Build capacity for clinical trials (drugs, vaccines, diagnostics) 

Ongoing Projects:

  1. Site Identification and Development Initiative Project: Incidence of HIV among High Risk women in Addis Ababa  (FHI/USAID)
  2. Capacity Buidling for conducting TB vaccine trials in high-risk countries in East Africa (EDCTP)
  3. Networking for Strengthening the National Tuberculosis Research Network in Ethiopia (EDCTP)
  4. Establishing of an African Coordinating Office for Ethics through PABIN (EDCTP)
  5. Ethics Review Committee Establishment in the Universities in Ethiopia ( with ETBIN)
  6. Grand Challenges-6 Biomarkers for TB
  7. SeroTB: Development of a specific serological kit for Dx of TB


Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI)
Jimma Road
PO Box 1005
Addis Ababa
251-11 321 13 34 , 251-11 321 1