With over 30 years of activity, research at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné has a long and colorful history.
In 1981, the third generation of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, orignially created in 1913, was built. The Gabonese government asked for a research laboratory to be created as part of the Albert Schweitzer Fondation, with the mission to perform research on diseases of importance to the local population. In 1991, Peter Kremsner became head of the research laboratory and started to focus the activity on pathophysiology of malaria and the evaluation of new interventions against malaria and schisotomiasis.
The research center and its activity saw strong growth in the following years based on a partnership with the University of Tübingen, at which Peter Kremsner had become head of the Department of Tropical Medicine in 1996.
Renamed “Unité de Recherche Médicale“ or “Medical Research Unit” in 2001, the center became administrative and financially independent of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, while retaining close links. A new building was inaugurated in 2006 and enabled the setting up of a modern research laboratory. At the same time, quality assurance systems were put in place as well as programs to train local personal in laboratory methods.
Since then, the research focus has also expanded with tuberculosis, bacteria and soil-transmitted helminths becoming important research areas. Expertise in large-scale intervention was built up during projects such as the RTS,S malaria vaccine trial
The center was renamed to “Centre de Recherches Médicale de Lambaréné” in 2011 and received a new legal status. A non-profit association according to the Gabonese law of 2001, it is now independent of the hospital while remaining part of the Foundation of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital.
Gabon celebrated the centenary of the arrival of Albert Schweitzer on July 2013. As part of these activities, a third building used by the administration was inaugurated.
Over the years the research center has become an important player in the research and academic landscape of Gabon. Senior researchers teach at medical and technical universities of Gabon and provide training opportunities for young Medics and Post-docs. The center actively participates in health and research policy discussions at the national level.
CERMEL continues its quest to become a leading research center within the Central African subregion. It has established partnerships with universities from the Republic of Congo and Cameroun and provides, among others, training opportunities for researchers at these centers.