Debrah, Alexander Yaw


NAME: Debrah, Alexander Yaw

POSITION TITLE: Professor/Senior Research Fellow


Institution and Location


Year of completion MM/YYYY

Field of study

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology,

Kumasi, Ghana



Biological Sciences

Kwame Nkrumah University

of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana



Clinical Microbiology

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology,

Kumasi, Ghana/ Bonn University, Bonn Germany



Parasitology and Neglected Tropical Diseases


  1. Personal statement

Prof. Alexander Yaw Debrah is a Professor of Parasitology and Global Health. He has extensive experience in the research of Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections and Immunogenetics. The genetics of filariasis is one of the cornerstones of Prof. Debrah’s Molecular Filariasis working group, the second being the molecular basis of symbiosis between filarial worms and their Wolbachia endobacteria, which also involves a number of clinical trials. In addition, he is researching on parasitic infections among school children and pregnant women. He has won a number of international research grants including grants from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, European Commission, German Research Foundation, European Foundation Initiative on Neglected Tropical Diseases (EFINTD) among others. He has also won many grants to train graduate and post graduate students both locally and abroad.

He is the Dean of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences of the KNUST. He was the Head of Department of Medical Laboratory Technology for four years before being elected as the Dean for the past five years. He has held a number of collaborative grants and also many positions (national and international), including being a member of Intra-Country Coordinating Committee against NTD in Ghana. He has trained over 30 postgraduate students.

  1. Positions and Employment

2022- date:      Full Professor in Parasitology and Global Health, KNUST 2018-2022  Dean, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, KNUST

2016-2020       Associate Professor in Parasitology and Global Health, KNUST 2009-2018  Head, Department of Medical Diagnostics, KNUST

2011-2016       Senior Lecturer in Parasitology, KNUST 2007-2011                        Lecturer in Parasitology, KNUST

1999-2006       Research Scientist, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR)



German Academic Exchange Service (D.A.A.D.) Sandwich Scholar for PhD




Wolbachia Travel Award to attend 4th International Wolbachia Meeting



in Puerto Rico, Caribbean

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH)


Travel Award to attend 56th ASTMH Meeting in Philadelphia, USA


International Congress on Parasitology (ICOPA) Travel Award to attend

XIIth ICOPA Meeting and Co-chair a Symposium in Melbourne, Australia


World Young Promising Scientist Award to meet and interact with Nobel                                                                                                                    2010



Laureates in Lindau (Germany)

Wolfgang Stille Award of the Paul-Ehrlich Society of Microbiology (Germany)


European Foundation Initiative on Neglected Tropical Diseases, Junior


Fellowship Award


European Foundation Initiative on Neglected Tropical Diseases,

Senior Fellowship Award


German Momentos Prize Award for Neglected Tropical Diseases


  1. Contribution to Science

I have through my research in the areas of Parasitology, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and Global Health afforded knowledge and disseminated same through presentations made and papers published. I have more than 110 publications made up of 80 original research publications in peer-reviewed journals; majority of them in high impact factor journals and 30 published abstracts in international and local conferences. I discovered that Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors (VEGFs) and their receptor-3 as well as some angiogenic and lymphangiogenic biomarkers are responsible for the development of human elephantiasis and hydrocele, and these have been published in high impact factor Journals such as Journal of Infectious Diseases, PloS Pathogen and many others. I also discovered that doxycycline can be used to treat onchocerciasis (river blindness) patients who were not responding to the first drug of choice for treatment, ie ivermectin (Debrah et al., 2012).

  1. Research Support

2023-2027       7.9million; Tackling the Obstacles to fight Filariasis (TAKeOFF) 2”, Funded by German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (PI and Overall Director of the consortium).

2021-2025 2.5million; Establishment of German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention, Funded by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), (Co-PI).

2020-2024     €499,888; Alternative treatment strategies using anti-wolbachial drugs to accelerate elimination of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis, funded by EDCTP (PI)

2018-2021 307,222, Dissecting the effects of filarial-associated immunomodulation on HIV susceptibility, Risk for HIV Infection through Nematodes. Funded by German Research Foundation (PI).

2017-2021       €2.8 million, Tackling the Obstacles to fight Filariasis (TAKeOFF)”, Funded by German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), (PI and Overall coordinator of the consortium).

2015-2018-     378,900; First stage Genome Wide Scan Association Study. Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [DFG] (German Research Foundation) (PI).

2011-2016 –    $1.1 million; Death to Onchocerciasis and Lymphatic filariasis (DOLF). Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Site PI)

2008-2015- 250,000; Analysis of genetic polymorphisms of cytokines, vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) and VEGF receptors in disease manifestations in lymphatic filariasis. Funded by European Foundation Initiative on Neglected Tropical Diseases (EFINTD) (PI).

2009-2015- 378,900; Genetics of Lymphoedema and Hydrocele. Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [DFG] (German Research Foundation) (PI).

2010-2014- 275,400; Enhanced Protective Immunity Against Filariasis (EPIAF). Funded by European Commission FP7 program for Vaccine development for filariasis (PI).

2007-2015- $1.2 million; Anti-symbiotic treatment of Filariasis. Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (PI).

2009-2011€302,000; Wolbachia endobacteria in filarial infections – exploring  their  usefulness as targets for novel chemotherapies that are anti-filarial, reduce filarial pathology and interrupt transmission. Funded by VW Foundation (PI).

List of recent publications

  1. Vivekanandan MM, Adankwah E, Aniagyei W, Acheampong I, Minadzi D, Yeboah A, Arthur JF, Lamptey M, Abass MK, Kumbel F, Osei-Yeboah F, Gawusu A, Debrah LB, Owusu DO, Debrah A, Mayatepek E, Seyfarth J, Phillips RO, Jacobsen M (2023). Impaired T-cell response to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) in tuberculosis patients is associated with high IL-6 plasma levels and normalizes early during anti-mycobacterial treatment. Infection. doi: 1007/s15010-023-01977-1.
  1. Mnkai J, Ritter M, Maganga L, Maboko L, Olomi W, Clowes P, Minich J, Lelo AE, Kariuki D, Debrah AY, Geldmacher C, Hoelscher M, Saathoff E, Chachage M, Pfarr K, Hoerauf A, Kroidl I. Increased HIV Incidence in Wuchereria bancrofti Microfilaria Positive Individuals in Tanzania. Pathogens. 28;12(3):387.
  1. Fischer K, Dubben B, Debrah LB, Kuehlwein JM, Ricchiuto A, Debrah AY, Hoerauf A, Weil GJ, Fischer PU, Klarmann-Schulz U (2023). Histopathological evaluation of Onchocerca volvulus nodules by microscopy and by digital image analysis for the study of macrofilaricidal drug efficacy. Front Med 0:1099926. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2023.1099926.
  2. Vivekanandan MM, Adankwah E, Aniagyei W, Acheampong I, Yeboah A, Arthur JF, Lamptey MNK, Abass MK, Gawusu A, Kumbel F, Osei-Yeboah F, Debrah LB, Owusu DO, Debrah A, Mayatepek E, Seyfarth J, Phillips RO, Jacobsen M. (2023). Plasma cytokine levels characterize disease pathogenesis and treatment response in tuberculosis patients. Infection. doi: 1007/s15010-022-01870-3.
  3. Aniagyei W, Adjei JK, Adankwah E, Seyfarth J, Mayatepek E, Berko DA, Sakyi SA, Debrah LB, Debrah AY, Hoerauf A, Owusu DO, Phillips RO, Jacobsen M. (2022). Doxycycline treatment of Mansonella perstans infected individuals affects immune cell activation and causes long-term T-cell polarization. Clin Infect Dis. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciac428
  1. Osei-Boakye F, Addai-Mensah O, Owusu M, Saasi AR, Appiah SK, Nkansah C, Wiafe YA, Debrah AY. (2022). Effect of pulmonary tuberculosis on natural anticoagulant activity in therapy-naïve Ghanaian adults; a case-control study. J Immunoassay Immunochem. 4;43(3):271-287
  1. Schlabe S, Korir P, Lämmer C, Landmann F, Dubben B, Koschel M, Albers A, Debrah LB, Debrah AY, Hübner MP, Pfarr K, Klarmann-Schulz U, Hoerauf A. (2022) A qPCR to quantify Wolbachia from few Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae as a surrogate for adult worm histology in clinical trials of antiwolbachial drugs. Parasitol Res. 121(4):1199-1206.

8.            Horn S, Ritter M, Arndts K, Borrero-Wolff D, Wiszniewsky A, Debrah LB, Debrah AY, Osei-Mensah J, Chachage M, Hoerauf A, Kroidl I, Layland LE. (2021). Filarial Lymphedema Patients Are Characterized by Exhausted CD4 + T Cells Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 6;11:767306


  1. Tetteh M, Addai-Mensah O, Siedu Z, Kyei-Baafour E, Lamptey H, Williams J, Kupeh E, Egbi G, Kwayie AB, Abbam G, Afrifah DA, Debrah AY, Ofori MF (2021). Acute Phase Responses Vary Between Children of HbAS and HbAA Genotypes During Plasmodium falciparum J Inflamm Res. 114:1415-1426.

10.     Batsa Debrah L, Klarmann-Schulz U, Osei-Mensah J, Dubben B, Fischer K, Mubarik Y, Ayisi-Boateng NK, Ricchiuto A, Fimmers R, Konadu P, Nadal J, Gruetzmacher B, Weil G, Kazura JW, King CL, Debrah AY, Hoerauf A. (2020). Comparison of repeated doses of ivermectin versus ivermectin plus albendazole for treatment of onchocerciasis – a randomized open-label clinical trial. Clin Infect Dis 71(4): 933-943

  1. Batsa Debrah L, Phillips RO, Pfarr K, Klarmann-Schulz U, Opoku VS, Nausch N, Owusu W, Mubarik Y, Sander AL, Lämmer C, Ritter M, Layland LE, Jacobsen M, Debrah AY, Hoerauf A. (2019). The Efficacy of Doxycycline Treatment on Mansonella perstans Infection: An Open-Label, Randomized Trial in Ghana. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 101 (1): 84-92.

12.     Klarmann-Schulz U, Specht S, Debrah AY, Batsa L, Ayisi-Boateng NK, Osei- Mensah J, Mubarik Y, Konadu P, Ricchiuto A, Fimmers R, Arriens S, Dubben B, Ford L, Taylor M, Hoerauf A. (2017) Comparison of Doxycycline, Minocycline, Doxycycline plus Albendazole and Albendazole Alone in Their Efficacy against Onchocerciasis in a Randomized, Open-Label, Pilot Trial. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 11(1):e0005156.

  1. Mand S, Debrah AY, Klarmann U, Batsa L, Marfo-Debrekyei Y, Kwarteng A, Specht S, Belda-Domene A, Fimmers R, Taylor M, Adjei O, Hoerauf A (2012). Doxycycline Improves Filarial Lymphedema Independent of Active Filarial Infection: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Clin Infect Dis. 55: 621-630
  2. Debrah, A.Y., Mand, S., Marfo-Debrekyei, Y., Batsa, L., Albers, A., Specht, S., Klarmann, U., Pfarr, K., Adjei, O., and Hoerauf, A. (2011). Macrofilaricidal Activity in Wuchereria bancrofti after 2 Weeks Treatment with a Combination of Rifampicin plus Doxycycline. J Parasitol Res 17:977-85.
  1. Mand S, Pfarr K, Sahoo PK, Satapathy AK, Specht S, Klarmann U, Debrah AY, Ravindran B, and Hoerauf A (2009). Macrofilaricidal activity and amelioration of lymphatic pathology in bancroftian filariasis after 3 weeks doxycycline followed by single-dose diethylcarbamazine. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2009 81:702-11
  2. Hoerauf A, Specht S, Marfo-Debrekyei Y, Büttner M, Debrah AY, Mand S, Batsa L, Brattig N, Konadu P, Bandi C, Fimmers R, Adjei O, Büttner DW (2009). Efficacy of 5- week doxycycline treatment on adult Onchocerca volvulus. Parasitol 104:437-447.
  3. Debrah, AY., Mand, S., Marfo-Debrekyei, Y., Larbi, J., Adjei, O. & Hoerauf, A. (2006). Assessment of microfilarial loads in the skin of onchocerciasis patients after treatment with different regimens of doxycycline plus ivermectin. Filaria J 5,
  4. Turner, J. D., Mand, S., Debrah, AY., Muehlfeld, J., Pfarr, K., McGarry, H. F., Adjei, O., Taylor, M. J. & Hoerauf, A. (2006). A randomized, double-blind clinical trial of a 3- week course of doxycycline plus albendazole and ivermectin for the treatment of Wuchereria bancrofti Clin Infect Dis 42, 1081-1089.
  5. Hoerauf, A., Mand, S., Fischer, K., Kruppa, T., Marfo-Debrekyei, Y., Debrah, A. Y., Pfarr, K. M., Adjei, O. & Buttner, D. W. (2003). Doxycycline as a novel strategy against bancroftian filariasis-depletion of Wolbachia endosymbionts from Wuchereria bancrofti and stop of microfilaria production. Med Microbiol Immunol 192, 211-216.