Dr. Davy Kiprotich Koech is an award winning researcher who is among the longest serving heads of State Corporations in the country. He was thrust into the public eye thanks to the invention of KEMRON, a drug he claimed could cure HIV/AIDS. It did not long before the World Health Organization (WHO) rubbished the invention.
Dr. Koech has previously worked as a research assistant at Wellcome Trust and WHO Immunology Research and Training Center.
He has worked with a number of international researchers and has over 270 publications to his name. His name remains amongst the 500 greatest geniuses of the 21st century.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
He was born on 21st August 1951 in Motero village in Kericho. His parents were Samuel and Helen Mitei
The distinguished researcher attended Soliat Primary School then proceeded to Sototwet Intermediate School where he sat for KAPE- Kenya African Preliminary Education.
He then got his Kenya Preliminary Education (KPE) certificate at Cheribo Primary School. After Primary, he went to Kericho High School where he sat for his O levels.
He went to Strathmore college where he sat for his University of London, General Certificate of education, A-level. Coming from a humble background that was unable to afford basic needs at times, he wanted to abandon school.
Nonetheless, he persevered and went on to university where he was involved in the research of Endemic Goitre way before graduating from university.
He got a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry and Zoology from the University of Nairobi in April 1974, and a Master of Science degree in Pharmacology specializing in Clinical Pharmacology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
In the early 70s, Kenya did not have a research institute and the University of Nairobi was reluctant to start one.
He joined hands with Prof. Kihumbu Thairu and Prof. Mutuma Mugambi to initiate the establishment of a premier research institution by lobbying for the amendment of the science and technology act of 1977 by parliament.
In 1979, a bill was passed in parliament that led to the creation of research institutions in the country. KEMRI was thus born and Koech was appointed the chief researcher at the Institute before being promoted to CEO in 1989.
Working with Dr. Arthur Obel, the research they had conducted into the treatment of HIV/AIDS and other viral infections thrust him into the limelight. Dr. Koech claimed the drug KEMRON was a cure for HIV/AIDS but the innovation was disapproved.
On 1st June 1990, the then president Moi announced Kenya had discovered the cure of HIV/AIDS. following this announcement, Dr. Koech and Dr. Obel published two medical journals saying the results of KEMRON’s were tested on ten patients.
Koech rose to celebrity status and the drug was launched in a colorful ceremony presided by Moi.
Later, WHO declared KEMRON an experimental drug of unproved benefit for HIV/AIDS. WHO announced the findings after doing tests in ten African countries. The American National Institute of Health also dismissed the drug.
In a recent appearance on KTN, he said some people spread false information and did not give them a chance to explain. He says that soon he would prove them wrong and be vindicated about three decades later.
In 1999, the late retired president Moi appointed him to head the Davy Koech commission that formed an inquiry into Kenya’s education system.
The commission released their findings which included the replacement of the 8-4-4 system with totally integrated Quality Education and Training (TIQET). This could be said to be the forerunner of the Competent Based Curriculum.
He worked at KEMRI until 2007 when he was relieved of his duties setting the record as one of the longest serving CEOs of a state organization.
Upon leaving KEMRI, he started the Center for Clinical and Molecular Sciences. The center is involved in cutting edge research into the better understanding of some of the health challenges facing mankind.
In August 2006, he was charged with three counts of corruption. They were: fraudulently acquiring Ksh800,000, irregularly acquiring ksh6 million and another Ksh12.5 million from KEMRI.
Trial magistrate Thomas Nzioka said that the prosecution had proved a graft case against Kiprotich in all the counts he was charged with in 2006.
He was convicted on 15th September and fined kes19.6 or six years imprisonment for corruptly acquiring public funds.
The accused pleaded to be allowed to pay the amount in installments for five months to avoid being taken to prison. The prosecution opposed the application saying the law does not allow such payments in installments.
The former KEMRI boss admits that in the course of his career, he made mistakes in order to fit into the system. Mistakes he admits he has paid for. The experienced researcher also added that he learnt a lot while working at KEMRi.
He said the major challenge most research institutions face is funding. The researcher, who is recovering from a heart attack and stroke, says he believes in science and insinuates that soon he will rock the world with a new scientific discovery.
The famous researcher is father to Kigen Koech, a Dagoretti North parliamentary seat aspirant.