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City of Banjul
Sunday, February 28, 2021

Dr Ya Harr Njie dies

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The top virologist from MRC recently moved to The Gambia Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) office of The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria as executive secretary. CCM has recently been allocated US$53 million for the next three years.

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Ya Harr’s death was received with shock by her many friends and messages of grief and shock flooded social networking sites when news of her death broke. 

One Sein Farage wrote: “May ur beautiful soul rest in eternal bliss our lovely sister. May Allah reward Ur gracious kindness to us all. N to humanity at large.”

Madi Jobarteh of Tango wrote: “This is an incredible and irreparable national loss. Yaa Harr just started as the executive secretary of the Gambia CCM of the Global Fund of which I am the chair. Since we engaged her these past three weeks, she struck me as a very solid professional, efficient, forward looking and extremely hard working. This lady is full of life, optimism, esteem and energy. You can feel it when you are beside her or when she talks to you. Within three weeks, she has effectively taken full control of all the complex issues of the CCM and Global Fund in The Gambia and was driving matters with such speed and efficiency that you would not imagine that this is a scientist who had been plunged into a whole new ball game. May Allah grant her eternal blisss and janna. Amen.” 

Njaimeh Njie wrote: “Gone too soon but u will remain in our memories and prayers. May your gentle soul rest in peace amen.”

Ya Harr is also the owner of the publishing house Majaga. Her remains are expected to be interred today. She is survived by her husband and children.


Professional background

Harr Freeya Njai rejoined MRC Unit, The Gambia in October 2011 as the virologist to the PROLIFICA (Prevention of Liver Fibrosis in Africa) project. She studied Biochemistry at the University of Southampton between 1994 and 1997. In 1999 she obtained a scholarship from Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad (VLIR) to pursue a 2 year Masters in Molecular Biology at the Vrije Universitiet Brussels (VUB), and graduated in 2001. She  then pursued a PhD in Biological Sciences at VUB and The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM), Antwerp, Belgium (2001-2005) funded by Ackerman & Van Haaren and ITM. Her thesis was titled: The biological importance of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) Circulating Recombinant Form CRF02_AG. 

Between January 2010 and April 2011, Dr Njai was the Study Coordinator/Virologist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) based at the Mwanza Intervention Trial Unit (MITU), in Tanzania working on an EDCTP funded project: Capacity Development and Strengthening In Preparation for HIV Vaccine Trial in Tanzania and Burkina Faso. Prior to that she was employed as a Virologist with the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS from January 2007 to December 2009, working on various projects including her own EDCTP Senior Fellowship Grant project: Characterisation of neutralising antibody responses in Chronic Clades A and D Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) infections and the relationship with established markers of disease progression – A longitudinal study in Rural Uganda.


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