Jenny Thornton

APCDR Programme Manager


This person is a member of Sanger Institute Alumni.

Jenny is the Programme Manager for the African Partnership for Chronic Disease Research (APCDR). Her role includes, managing the capacity building, research and data sharing processes which are central to the APCDR’s mission to deliver collaborative epidemiological and genomic research into non-communicable diseases across sub-Saharan Africa. Jenny is primarily based at the University of Cambridge.

As an experienced project manager in capacity building initiatives, I am currently developing the APCDR programme’s portfolio of activities to create a sustainable environment for on-going epidemiological and genomic research. This includes developing expertise and infrastructure by managing Studentship and Fellowship opportunities to support the next generation of leading researchers in sub-Saharan Africa, and overseeing the infrastructural and operational development of the Uganda Medical Informatics Centre, a new data centre in Entebbe. My aim is to firmly establish the APCDR as a world-leading programme in tackling the most critical causes of morbidity and death in sub-Saharan Africa through collaborative research and coordinated activities which enable a better understanding of chronic diseases.

I graduated from the University of St Andrews with a MA (Hons) Geography and Social Anthropology, for which my dissertation fieldwork was conducted in Rakai district, Uganda, and focussed on local perspectives of the ‘west’ as a critique to international development discourses and models. I am currently a part-time postgraduate student at the University of Cambridge reading International Relations. As a social scientist, my professional interests therefore include interdisciplinary approaches to disease research, as well as how best to harness the value of big data in scientific research. Key questions for my work include:

  • How does the ‘big data’ phenomenon present opportunities and challenges for African research, and what infrastructure is required to ensure researchers on the continent are able to harness big data;
  • with the globalisation of higher education, what is the responsibility of research institutions to offer more equitable opportunities for researchers in Africa, including sharing data, exposure to training and development courses, and access to resources; and
  • as disease proliferation is a relevant area of study across the disciplines, including the medical, human, social, biological and computational sciences – how can interdisciplinary approaches improve study design and research output?