Master's Fellowships in Public Health and Tropical Medicine: people we've funded

This list includes current and past grantholders.

2017

Giang Dang

University of Oxford

Forecasting dengue cases: Vietnam as a case study

This proposed research will study the dengue case dynamics in Vietnam in the past 20 years. The project’s ultimate objective is to build a rigorous forecasting system for future dengue cases in both space and time.

We will use machine learning and other modelling techniques to assess the relationship between patterns in cases and other factors such as climate and urbanisation. We will also use satellite imagery to quantify the urbanisation process in Vietnam. These forecasts will be rigorously tested for how good and useful they are to those who make decisions about the allocation of resources.

The results from this project may serve as a warning system to future areas of high transmission of dengue.

Felician Meza

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Targeting strongly insecticide-resistant Anopheles funestus by using attractive toxic sugar baits

Malaria is a disease transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. Despite much effort, existing control tools have not been able to eliminate the disease. There is a need for new methods that kill mosquitoes and protect all people in the community, working synergistically with existing tools. Attractive toxic sugar bait (ATSB) is a new control tool shown to control some malaria vectors by putting an insecticide in sugar pads that mosquitoes feed on.

I will see if ATSB developed for one species will kill a different species, reducing the number of mosquitoes that transmit malaria in southern Tanzania. I will first study the mosquitoes to know their numbers and locations then I will put ATSB in homes to see if the target mosquito feeds on it and if it kills mosquitoes in the large numbers needed to control malaria.

Rhosheen Mthanwanji

Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust clinical research programme, Malawi

Assessing the effects of piperonyl butoxide (PBO) exposure on malaria vector fitness

Malaria occurrence has decreased remarkably across sub-Saharan Africa. This is in large part due to the mass distribution of bed nets which contain insecticides known as pyrethroids. Mosquitoes that come in contact with the net are killed by the insecticide, reducing the population of mosquitoes that can transmit malaria. However, mosquitoes, have acquired resistance to pyrethroids. This threatens the future effectiveness of bed nets, therefore alternative solutions and compounds are urgently needed.

One solution is a long-lasting insecticidal treated net (LLIN) containing both a pyrethroid and a compound known as piperonyl butoxide (PBO). PBO is a synergist which inhibits enzymes, known as P450s, inside the mosquitoes that cause resistance and contribute to lowering mosquito populations. We will look at the impact on mosquito longevity and reproduction of exposing a local vector population in southern Malawi to PBO-LLINs.

Patrick Mwangala

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

The adaptation and validation of a measure to monitor HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in adults ageing with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa

HIV/AIDS remains a major public health concern and a cause of disability particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) which carries the highest global burden of HIV. Studies have shown that HIV infects the brain causing cognitive problems thus affecting the quality of life of those infected. The extent of this burden remains undocumented and undetected in the context of SSA largely due to an acute shortage of trained personnel and a lack of validated screening tools to detect these problems in clinical settings.

I plan to develop and validate a context relevant measure of HIV-associated cognitive problems among adults ageing with HIV in SSA. I will involve 300 participants in the adaptation and validation process and I will use a mixed-method approach to develop the tool and use a standard psychometric evaluation to ensure it is both reliable and valid.

Lizzie Tchingwe-Divala

Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust clinical research programme, Malawi

Identifying the mechanisms of insecticide resistance in Anopheles gambiae s.s. and Anopheles arabiensis in Chikwawa, Malawi

Insecticides are commonly used to control the spread of malaria by Anopheles mosquitoes. However, in Malawi the malaria mosquitoes have developed changes that make them resistant to the insecticides used by the National Malaria Control Programme.

This study will investigate the genetic make-up of two common malaria vectors – Anopheles gambiae s.s. and An. arabiensis – in Chikwawa, Malawi to understand the causes of insecticide resistance. This is necessary for planning and adapting the malaria vector control measures that can be used in Malawi and will also contribute to the guidelines for insecticide use in malaria vector control.

By understanding the genetic changes in the malaria vector we will be able to develop strategies to limit their spread and thereby prolong the active life of malaria control tools.

2016

Kien Duong

University of Oxford Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam

Zika and chikungunya – emerging arboviral threats in Vietnam and South-east Asia

Dengue virus (DENV), Zika virus (ZIKV) and chikungunya virus (CHIKV) are viruses of the family Flaviviridae and they are transmitted by the bite from an infected Aedes mosquito. Currently, ZIKV is present in 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and the World Health Organization has declared it a ‘public health emergency of international concern’. There is negligible data on the presence of ZIKV in Vietnam.

More than 8,000 acute plasma samples collected between 2011 and 2015 from febrile patients with a non-dengue diagnosis by laboratory testing will be tested for ZIKV and CHIKV to determine whether or not ZIKV and CHIKV have circulated in Vietnam. We will also assess whether local mosquito vectors for ZIKV and CHIKV would be able to sustain local transmission. To do this, we will offer Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes healthy donor blood spiked with each virus, and test their susceptibility to infection and transmission after 14 days. 

This experiment, together with our assessment of whether these viruses were in recent circulation in Vietnam, will give insight into how important it is for Vietnamese doctors to consider Zika and chikungunya as alternative diagnoses in the future.

Moses Nyongesa

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

The adaptation and initial evaluation of an intervention to promote mental health outcomes of adolescents living with HIV in rural Kenya

Millions of adolescents in Africa live with HIV. Earlier studies indicate that adolescents living with HIV infection (ALHIV) are increasingly experiencing mental health problems. Such adolescents are at risk of abusing drugs, engaging in risky sexual behaviours and also report problems with adhering to their medical regimen. Evidence from other parts of the world, collected mostly about adults living with HIV infection, suggest that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a feasible, acceptable and effective way to address mental health problems in people living with HIV. However, there have been no published studies that have evaluated the extent to which this intervention may be helpful to ALHIV experiencing mental health problems.

This study evaluates the extent to which computer-based CBT addresses the mental health problems of ALHIV. This intervention will be made user friendly and fit for use. In its evaluation, 50 14-17-year-old ALHIV with mental health problems will be divided into two groups – those receiving the intervention (n=25) and those that will wait to receive the intervention later (n=25). A measure evaluating mental health functioning among the participants will be administered at the start and at the end of the intervention.

Juan Lol Chiguil

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Characterising metabolic mechanisms conferring deltamethrin resistance in Anopheles albimanus, a major malaria vector in Guatemala

There were a total of 4,931 confirmed malaria cases in Guatemala in 2014. The main malaria vector is Anopheles albimanus because it is the most abundant and widely distributed species. Insecticide-based vector control strategies are mainly used in Guatemala, including pyrethroid long-lasting insecticidal nets. Unfortunately, the emergence of resistance to insecticides is threatening the continued success of the insecticide-based vector control interventions. Recent studies have reported the development of pyrethroids resistance in An. albimanus from Guatemala, with early evidence suggesting a predominant role of metabolic genes.

This project aims to identify metabolic mechanisms involved deltamethrin resistance in Guatemalan An. albimanus. The insecticide resistance profile will be assessed in field populations of An. albimanus throughout Guatemala using bioassays. Resistant mosquitoes will be used to detect key genes conferring metabolic resistance using a next-generation sequencing approach. Deltamethrin resistance markers will be detected by sequencing candidate genes between resistant and susceptible mosquitoes.

This will allow us to design molecular tools which will enhance the sentinel surveillance to detect insecticide resistance at an early stage.

Dr Donnie Mategula

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Prenatal malaria exposure and infant health and development: a prospective birth cohort study (PRiME)

Malaria is a major contributor to childhood illness and death. Development of protective immunity is key to the survival of children in areas where malaria is endemic. Evidence suggests that the development of an immune response to malaria in early childhood may already start in early pregnancy when the mother gets infected with malaria. In some children, early exposure to malaria in utero hinders the development of their own immune responses to malaria when they acquire their first malaria infections, placing them at enhanced risk of clinical malaria and severe anaemia during early childhood. Malaria in pregnancy may also damage the functionality of the placenta and reduce the transfer of protective antibodies against malaria and against other infections such as pneumonia, tetanus and measles, from the mother to the unborn baby. This may cause changes to the development of the immune system of the child and also affect the child’s growth and susceptibility to malaria and other diseases and immune response to vaccinations.

We will determine the association between malaria in pregnancy and childhood illness by following all babies born to women enrolled in a large trial of new preventive strategies for pregnant women to reduce malaria throughout infancy. This study will mainly use data from two funded studies.

Barack Omondi

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya

Epidemiological factors associated with cutaneous leishmaniasis transmission in Gilgil, Nakuru County, Kenya

Leishmaniasis is spread to humans by bites from infected sandflies. About 350 million people are at risk of exposure to one of the four forms of the disease in nearly a hundred low- and middle-income countries, with 1.3 million new cases and 20,000-40,000 deaths annually. Visceral and cutaneous forms of the disease are known to be endemic in the Rift Valley, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Kenya. Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a disfiguring disease and it occurs in focal distribution and in remote locations with limited access to health services. The specific causal organisms and sandflies responsible for the spread of the disease have been identified in Kenya and cutaneous leishmaniasis cases have been reported in Gilgil, Nakuru County in Kenya.

Little is known about the factors that drive the transmission of leishmaniasis. This study seeks to determine the occurrence, distribution and abundance of sandflies in cutaneous leishmaniasis hotspots in Gilgil. I will look at causal organism screening from the vectors and evaluate exposure levels to sandfly bites using specific molecular markers.

Ambrose Oruni

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Assessing the impacts of insecticide resistance on vectorial competence of Anopheles gambiae from Uganda

Malaria is caused by plasmodium parasites spread by bites from Anopheles mosquitoes. To control the spread of malaria, insecticides are used to kill the mosquitoes but insecticide usage has led to changes in mosquitoes to make them resistant to insecticides. Previous studies have shown that mosquitoes that are resistant could increase the spread of malaria. New studies to understand parasite development in resistant mosquitoes are urgently needed. The molecular changes in mosquitoes that make them resistant to insecticides may also affect parasite growth in the mosquito.

I will look at changes in mosquito populations that affect their sensitivity to insecticides and their susceptibility to parasite infection.

Dr Mphatso Phiri

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Costs and cost-effectiveness analysis of larval source management and house improvement when added to standard vector control strategies in a rural setting in Malawi with high malaria transmission and seasonal variation

Malaria is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. It is caused by plasmodium, a parasite transmitted by bites from female mosquitoes. Currently, malaria control and transmission reduction relies on a combination of interventions including treatment of people with malaria, preventive treatment in pregnant women and strategies targeting biting mosquitoes. Mosquito-targeted interventions mainly include insecticides, using long lasting insecticide-treated nets and spraying houses. However, it has been discovered that mosquitoes have learned to survive the harmful effects of these insecticides.

Alternative, non-chemical interventions need to be found including controlling mosquito breeding sites and using screens on houses to stop mosquitoes entering. However, the decision to adopt these alternative interventions will have to be based not only on their effectiveness but also affordability if they are to be adopted in countries with limited resources. I will investigate whether or not an intervention based on controlling mosquito breeding sites and using screens on houses to stop mosquito entry in a rural district in Malawi not only reduces the number of malaria cases in children aged six months to 59 months, but is also affordable and should be considered for adoption.

Dr Sai Thein Than Tun

University of Oxford

Targeting malaria hotspots in Myanmar: an individual-based modelling approach

Malaria is still a burden on Myanmar even though its occurrence has been reducing recently. There is a problem with available malaria drugs becoming obsolete. Current malaria control strategies are no longer enough to completely wipe out malaria. New strategies, such as targeting areas with higher than average malaria transmission, have been suggested by the World Health Organization. Targeted strategies are being used in Kayin State, Myanmar. However, detection of the areas to target have been limited because the test used is costly and complicated to perform. This could be optimised by computer simulation.

The proposed project will develop a simulation model to understand the changing nature of malaria in Myanmar’s population and derive a cost-effective strategy to identify and treat infected people at places most vulnerable to malaria in Kayin state, Myanmar. The simulation will reflect real life by including detailed attributes like demographics, risk of infection, health behaviour and response to treatment. These attributes will be synthesised using real information about the people of Myanmar. Detection methods and treatment strategies will be simulated using this information.

Melody Sakala

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Evaluation of the Evidence Informed Decision making in Malawi (EVIDENT) using policy analysis and prospective case study        

The Evidence Informed Decision-making Network for Health Policy and Practice in Malawi (EVIDENT) aims to support use of research in health. This study will examine whether EVIDENT is improving use of research, especially in malaria policy. The study will have two components: an overall evaluation of EVIDENT, and a case study of a research trial that compares drugs used for malaria during pregnancy. This trial will take place in Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania, from 2017-19. The overall EVIDENT evaluation will consider issues such as how EVIDENT has affected links between members, whether members see EVIDENT as useful, and whether EVIDENT has improved use of research findings.

The study will use a workshop with EVIDENT members and interviews and documents about EVIDENT’s activities. The malaria trial will be used as a case study to examine whether and how EVIDENT has affected uptake of the research findings, and identify other issues that affect use of research in Malawi that could be addressed by EVIDENT. The case study methods will include interviews, observation, focus groups and analysis of research and policy documents.

The study aims to support evidence-informed health policy by strengthening EVIDENT and providing lessons about factors that help or hinder the use of research.

Frank Tenywa

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Attractive toxic sugar-baited resting places against wild Aedes aegypti in urban Tanzania

Dengue fever and other viruses such as Zika are a major public health problem. These diseases are transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Disease control relies entirely on controlling the mosquito vectors. There is a need for investment in new methods of killing mosquitoes as the current ones are not effective enough.

I propose to investigate whether Aedes mosquitoes can be attracted to an artificial source of sugar and tempted to feed on a sugar concoction containing low concentrations of a common cattle dewormer (ivermectin). The bait is called an attractive toxic sugar baited resting place (ATSB-RP) and attracts mosquitoes wishing to rest in a dark moist environment. It kills them after they eat the sugar on the inner walls of bait. I will first determine the dose of ivermectin required to kill mosquitoes and then evaluate if mosquitoes will feed on sugar when there is the option to feed on blood. I will then determine if mosquitoes in the wild are attracted to the ATSB-RP.

If successful, ATSB-RPs may be considered for a larger study evaluating its impact on disease transmission.

2015

Ayman Ahmed

Institute of Endemic Diseases, University of Khartoum, Sudan

Genetic causes and delimitation of carbamate and organophosphate resistance in Anopheles arabiensis, the primary malaria vector in Sudan

Ayman is a research assistant who is interested in the field of vector-borne diseases. He will study the mechanisms producing resistance in Anopheles arabiensis to carbamate and organophosphate, the future alternatives to the currently used insecticides for indoor residual spraying. He aims to identify the key genes underpinning insecticide resistance, patterns of cross-resistance, and population genetics of Anopheles arabiensis.This will generate crucial information for successful strategic insecticide resistance management. Ayman will undertake his Master's in Molecular Biology of Parasite and Disease Vectors at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Anne Amulele

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Virulence characteristics of Shigella species isolated from children hospitalised at Kilifi County Hospital

Anne's research focuses on understanding the virulence characteristics of Shigella species isolated from children hospitalised with diarrhoea and/or bacteraemia. This will enable us to determine whether the virulence characteristics of Shigella species isolated from hospitalised cases of diarrhoea differ from isolates obtained from hospitalised bacteraemia cases or from community isolates. This in turn will lead to an understanding of the pathogenicity of the bacteria in the region that leads to hospitalisation. The Fellowship will also enable Anne to pursue a Master's in Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Joel Changalucha

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Impact of SMS advertising on participation in mass vaccination campaigns and consequences for rabies control

Joel's aim is to investigate the potential of mass SMS advertising as a tool to increase participation during mass dog vaccination campaigns against rabies, particularly in hard-to-reach communities. He will aim to utilise the well-distributed mobile phone infrastructure in Tanzania to provide an alternative and unusual means of advertising that can potentially have a far greater reach in advance of the campaigns. His study will examine both the barriers and willingness to attend vaccinations and subsequently generate and evaluate SMS content aimed at increasing participation. Resulting findings will be used to develop a randomised controlled trial protocol for mass SMS advertising.

Ngure Kagia

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Molecular epidemiology of ESBL-carrying Enterobacteriaceae among neonates at Kilifi County Hospital

Ngure aims to describe the genetic diversity and epidemiology of strains of multidrug-resistant bacteria (extended spectrum beta-lactamase positive Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-E)) carried by neonates admitted to a hospital in Kenya. He will compare these with ESBL-E from other settings globally and to ESBL-E causing invasive disease among neonates at the same hospital. He also intends to describe the mobile genetic elements and genetic determinants of resistance present among these ESBL-E. Ngure will be mentored and supervised by Professor Nicholas Thomson and Professor Anthony Scott and the Fellowship will support him to pursue a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics.

Enock Mararo

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya

To isolate naturally-occurring microbes found in Anopheles mosquitoes in Kenya that could be used to block the transmission of Plasmodium

Enock aims to isolate naturally-occurring microbes found in Anopheles mosquitoes in Kenya that could be used to block the transmission of Plasmodium. He has established a pipeline to screen and isolate naturally-occurring microbes of interest. These microbes and functional aspects of their interactions with Anopheline hosts will then be investigated further. Enock works with Dr Daniel Masiga, Dr Patrick Sawa and Dr Jeremy Herren at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and Professor Steven Sinkins at the University of Glasgow.

Nancy Mwangome

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Investigating current health education experiences and needs of Kenyan secondary school students and how they align with current secondary school health education programmes

During this Fellowship, Nancy will undertake an MA in Education, Health Promotion and International Development at University College London, Institute of Education. She aims to explore the extent to which Kenyan secondary school health education practice meets the health needs of students. The study will document health education experiences and needs and compare the congruence between the health education curriculum, the curriculum roll-out experiences of teachers and students, and the health education needs of students. Nancy will be working with Alun Davies and Dr Caroline Jones at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme.

Dr Robert Ndung'u

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)

Deworming prior to vaccination: are there immunological benefits of deworming calves before vaccinating them against East Coast fever using the infection and treatment method?

Robert aims to determine whether deworming calves prior to vaccination correlates with better immune responses to the East Coast fever (ECF) vaccine. His study will provide evidence of the benefit of deworming calves on ECF vaccine outcome, and the most appropriate time between deworming and vaccination. He is sponsored by Dr Kariuki Njenga and supervised by Dr Thumbi Mwangi, KEMRI, and Dr Helena Helmby at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Robert will work collaboratively with Dr Lucilla Steinaa, International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi. This Fellowship supports Robert’s MSc in Immunology of Infectious Diseases at LSHTM.

Harun Njoroge

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Evolution of insecticide resistance in vectors sustaining residual malaria transmission in Kenya

Harun is a biotechnologist with a profound interest in molecular evolution and population genetics studies. His career objective is to find ways of counteracting evolution of resistance to drugs or insecticides. Through this Fellowship, he seeks to investigate the role of population structures, environmental and socio-economic factors in the evolution and spread of insecticide resistance in vectors sustaining residual malaria transmission. Understanding the roles of these factors in the spread and evolution of insecticide resistance can inform policy makers in developing and implementing policies aimed at managing insecticide resistance.

Timothy Tuti Ng'ang'a

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Exploring an e-health strategy for engaging clinical teams in efforts to improve care

Timothy Tuti is a research officer at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme with a research interest in the area of health informatics, specifically drawing on advances in science and technology and applying them to routine hospital settings to support quality of care more effectively and knowledgeably in low-resource contexts. He will be exploring the potential role and acceptability of performance dashboards as part of clinical quality improvement and audit cycles, with consideration of how they might be designed to meet user needs in the organisational context of clinical practice in Kenyan district hospitals.

Dennis Odera

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Neutrophil extracellular killing and chronic inflammation in severely malnourished children

To date, there is still no licenced malaria vaccine, with the most promising vaccine showing partial efficacy. Numerous potential candidates have been identified, but poor understanding of the effector mechanisms that underlie naturally-acquired or vaccine-induced immunity impede rational vaccine candidate selection, prioritisation and evaluation. Dennis aims toexamine the association between antibody-mediated neutrophil phagocytosis (oxygen-independent), oxidative burst (oxygen-dependent) function and clinical protection from malaria episodes in a cohort of children (aged 2–12 years) living in a malaria-endemic area. This work contributes to a larger programme of research led by Professor Faith Osier. Understanding these mechanisms contributes not only to the identification of potential immune correlates that inform malaria vaccine design, but also provides tools for evaluating novel candidates in pre-clinical studies.

Michael Ooko

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Using interrupted time series analysis to evaluate the impact of 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on pneumonia admissions in Kilifi, Kenya

Two statistical methodologies are available to estimate the intervention effect in interrupted time series: segmented regression and intervention analysis. Michael aims to examine the relative performance of each method in terms of bias, variance and mean square error by simulating monthly rates of pneumonia admissions. He will then use the most appropriate method to estimate the impact of 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on the incidence of pneumonia admissions in Kilifi County Hospital. Michael will be mentored and supervised by Professor Anthony Scott and Dr Christian Bottomley of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Millicent Opoku

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Improving xenomonitoring for assessing Anopheles-transmitted filariasis after several rounds of mass drug administration to interrupt lymphatic filariasis transmission in Africa

Millicent's interests are in parasitic diseases and vector biology. Through this Fellowship she will undertake an MSc in Biology and Control of Parasites and Disease Vectors, under the supervision of Professor Moses Bockarie and Dr Lisa Reimer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and Professor Michael D. Wilson and Dr Dziedzom K. de Souza at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana. Molecular xenomonitoring could be useful during the post mass drug administration surveillance phase of lympathic filariasis elimination programmes, but the challenge is related to collection of large numbers of mosquitoes for the results to be of statistical relevance. Millicent’s study therefore seeks to assess the use of gravid traps to collect mosquitoes for xenomonitoring to confirm cessation of transmission in the vectors.

Patpong Rongkard

University of Oxford

The cross-reactivity of human humoral and cellular immune responses to Burkholderia pseudomallei and avirulent Burkholderia species

Patpong is a junior researcher at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit. His current research interest focuses on human immune responses associated with the presence of environmental Burkholderia pseudomallei, a causative agent of melioidosis. His project aims to demonstrate cross-reactivity upon exposure to co-existing avirulent Burkholderia strains by characterisation of humoral- and cell-mediated immunity between sero-positive healthy cohorts and melioidosis patients using a broad spectrum of immunology based techniques such as functional antibody assays, multiparameter flow cytometry and cytokine-releasing assay by ELISPOT. Patpong's Fellowship supports his Master's in Immunology of Infectious Diseases at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Jesse Rop

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

The effect of ABO, Lewis and secretor histo-blood group systems on acute gastroenteritis, severe and very severe pneumonia in African children

ABO, Lewis and secretor histo-blood group antigens have been shown to interact with various pathogens as decoys, receptors or as immune system agents. Polymorphic expression of these antigens in populations thereby mediates susceptibility to particular infectious diseases. Jesse will be working with Professor Thomas Williams, Dr Sophie Uyoga and Dr Etienne de Villiers, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, to first describe the allelic variability of the Lewis and secretor genes, and then to assess the effect of ABO, secretor and Lewis genotypes on lower respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections among the study population. Findings could inform the future development and targeted administration of interventions.

Johnson Swai

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Assessing malaria infections among migratory rice farmers in a residual transmission setting in rural south-eastern Tanzania

Johnson is interested in understanding the role played by human movements and the associated risks, particularly in rural residual malaria transmission settings. Specifically, he will look at subpopulations practicing migratory activities, focusing on the rice farmers in Kilombero valley. His study will involve characterising migratory lifestyles of rice farmers and comparing the number of malaria cases with those of non-migratory populations within the Kilombero valley. The findings from this study will determine whether complementary tools are required, and guide targeted interventions for such migratory subpopulations. The Fellowship will also support his Master’s study in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Dr Joseph Kamtchum Tatuene

Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Malawi

The pathophysiology and outcome of HIV-associated vasculopathy and stroke in sub-Saharan Africa

Joseph is a neurologist interested in studying interactions between HIV infection and cerebrovascular diseases in order to inform prevention and treatment policies in sub-Saharan Africa. His Fellowship is divided into two parts: an initial 12-month training period for a Master's of Research in Clinical Sciences at the University of Liverpool, followed by an 18-month clinical project in Malawi. He will use ELISA to measure and compare plasma levels of biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction in a cohort of HIV-negative and HIV-positive stroke patients (with or without antiretroviral therapy). He will also perform survival analysis to identify predictors of stroke recurrence.

2014

Dr Nadia Bennett

University of the West Indies, Jamaica

Vascular growth factors and the emergence of arterial function and blood pressure in the 1986 Jamaica birth cohort

Factors leading to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and poor health begin in early life. Nadia is interested in exploring the relationship between early-life influences and the social and physical environment on markers of CVD risk in adulthood, and developing culturally-appropriate interventions. This study examines the association between novel markers of CVD risk (vascular growth factors and arterial stiffness) and blood pressure in a cohort of young Jamaican adults. During this Fellowship, Nadia will undertake a Master's degree in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a research project in Jamaica.

Dr Vilada Chansamouth

Mahosot Hospital, Laos

Are non-malarial fevers in pregnancy significant causes of under-recognised maternal morbidity and preterm/low birth weight in Laos?

Vilada is a research physician at the Laos-Oxford-Mahosot Wellcome Trust Research Unit, with an interest in the causes and consequences of non-malarial fevers in pregnant women. She is currently investigating the causes and impacts of fever in pregnant women in Pak Gnum District, Vientiane, where maternal and neonatal death rates are high. This is a prospective cohort study, allowing her to follow up women and babies from early pregnancy to six weeks after birth. Vilada's Fellowship supports her Master's in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Dingani Chinula

National Malaria Control Centre, Zambia

Treating netting eave baffles with pirimiphos-methyl to control indoor-feeding Anopheles funestus malaria vectors at an affordable cost

Dingani aims to demonstrate that treating netting eave baffles with insecticides can be a cost-effective way to control indoor-feeding Anopheles funestus mosquitoes. If proven effective, this technique could be extended beyond Zambia, to other countries where malaria is endemic, potentially saving billions of dollars for overstretched funders of malaria vector control. The Fellowship will also support Dingani's Master's training at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, facilitating his career in operational vector control research. Dingani collaborates with Dr Gerry Killeen, his sponsor at the Liverpool School, and with Dr Pascalina Chanda of the Ministry of Health, Zambia.

Pexine Gbaguidi

Institut Régional de Santé Publique, Benin

Identification of genes for insecticide resistance in the lymphatic filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus

Pexine is interested in the intersection of environment and health. Under the supervision of Professor Martin Donnelly, Dr Salako Djogbénou and Dr Lisa Reimer (all based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine), Pexine's study aims to identify the mechanisms of insecticide resistance in the lymphatic filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus. Her studies will focus on Culex quinquefasciatus in West Africa, with the hope that this work will eventually lead to a reduction in disease cases in the region.

Nishtha Jhilmeet

University of Cape Town, South Africa

Investigation of central-memory T cells as correlates of protection against tuberculosis in humans

Nishtha's area of focus is TB-HIV co-infection in South Africa. She is based at the Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town, under the supervision of Associate Professor Katalin Wilkinson and Professor Robert Wilkinson. Nishtha aims to identify biomarkers of protective immune reconstitution in Mtb-sensitised individuals starting antiretroviral therapy, specifically central-memory T cells as correlates of protection against tuberculosis in humans. She is evaluating gene transcriptional signatures characteristic of central-memory T cells, and using FACS analysis to investigate central-memory T-cell subsets in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

Dr Modou Jobe

MRC Laboratories, the Gambia

Metabolic endotoxemia as a mediator of insulin resistance and diabetes in obese African women

Modou's research interests focus on the epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular disease. As part of his Fellowship, he aims to identify which is the most likely mechanism by which metabolic endotoxemia leads to insulin resistance and diabetes in obese African women: paracellular leakage through a damaged gut wall; fat-mediated post-prandial chylomicron-associated transfer; or adipose tissue sequestration of lipopolysaccharide leading to macrophage chemotraction and inflammation. The findings are expected to point towards novel preventative and/or therapeutic strategies.

Alice Kamau

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Variation in the efficacy of insecticide-treated bednets in Kilifi, Kenya

Alice is a statistician who aims to examine in detail the impact of long-term versus short-term insecticide-treated bednet (ITN) use in survival analyses and logistic regression analyses of the risks of febrile malaria. She also aims to identify the protection conferred by ITNs against febrile malaria in 'units' of time and space. This will provide insight into the efficacy of ITNs in relation to changes in mosquito feeding behaviours. Alice will be working with Dr Philip Bejon and Professor Anthony Scott at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme.

Deogratius Roman Kavishe

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Protein labels for quantifying exposure of malaria vectors to mosquito control tools and selecting new vector control strategies for development

Deogratius will assess existing and new interventions targeting mosquitoes responsible for residual malaria transmission. He will use protein-labelling techniques to quantify the proportion of the mosquito population that contact a given prototype control device or insecticide-treated surface and compare with the fraction of the mosquito population that is already targeted by long-lasting insecticidal nets and indoor residual sprays. Application of this technique could guide the development, selection and optimisation of the very best alternative vector control tools to supplement existing interventions. Deo’s Fellowship will also support his Master's in Molecular Biology of Parasite and Disease Vectors at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Kennedy Lushasi

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Rabies persistence and elimination on Pemba Island, Tanzania

Kennedy aims to characterise rabies transmission on Pemba Island, where the disease is circulating at low levels in an isolated, closed and relatively small population where vaccination campaigns are active. By tracking transmission and monitoring levels of vaccination coverage through time, this study aims to understand the determinants of rabies persistence, including the impacts of landscape and population connectivity, and how foci of infection can be eliminated. Patients reporting with animal-bite injuries and suspect rabies cases will be investigated. All contacts associated with these incidents will be traced, identifying whether incidents involved healthy or rabid animals, generating detailed transmission networks and accurately capturing spatiotemporal patterns of incidence.

Nancy Stephen Matowo

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Videographic analysis and experimental evaluation of mosquito host-seeking responses to optimise a new odour-baited device for monitoring outdoor-biting malaria vectors

Nancy is a Research Officer, with an interest in the development and field evaluation of outdoor mosquito control tools to complement existing indoor malaria interventions such as insecticide-treated nets. Her research will focus on videographic analysis of mosquito host-seeking behaviours and mosquito behaviour around outdoor control tools. This information will enable her to optimise these tools for effective monitoring of outdoor mosquito density and evaluation of current control measures. Nancy's project will take place at Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, and she will undertake her Master's degree in Biology and Control of African Disease Vectors at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Arnold Sadikiel Mmbando

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Combining area-wide mosquito repellents and long-range attractants to create a resistance-proof push-pull system that maximises protection against disease-transmitting mosquitoes

Arnold is interested in eliminating residual malaria transmission in the endemic malaria areas where there is already wide coverage with long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, but where outdoor malaria transmission remains a major challenge. He is developing complementary tools and approaches such as 'Push-Pull' which will target these resilient vectors outdoors. His study specifically aims to combine area-wide mosquito repellents (eg transfluthrin, a synthetic pyrethroid), long-range mosquito attractants and resistance-proof mosquito killing boxes fitted with electrocuting grids. Through this approach, Arnold will be able to divert these residual vectors from the villages towards the killing stations. This Fellowship will also support his Master’s study on Infection Biology at the University of Basel, facilitating his career in operational vector control research.

Allan Muhwezi

Makerere University, Uganda

Tracking tsetse: applying landscape genetic approaches to guide strategies for eliminating human African trypanosomiasis

Allan is interested in molecular genetics approaches and how these can be used in public health systems to control the burden of tropical diseases. He will investigate tsetse population dynamics in human African trypanosomiasis foci in north-western Uganda, undertaking ecological and molecular genetic studies to better understand factors that impel disease transmission. This will facilitate a rational design of optimal control strategies. Allan will be mentored and supervised by Professor Stephen Torr (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine), Associate Professor Enock Matovu (Makerere University) and Professor Martin Donnelly (Liverpool School and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute).

Dr Patricia Njuguna

Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Measures of malaria exposure for fine-scale mapping

Joel Odero

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya

Tracking the mothers: applying microsatellite genetic makers to guide strategies for controlling Anopheles mosquito larvae

Joel's interest is in molecular entomology and malaria control. He aims to develop genetic microsatellite markers for Anopheles arabiensis, and use these to assign larvae to unknown mothers, determining how many females oviposit in artificial and natural habitats in western Kenya based on early instar-larval abundance. Findings will contribute to informing novel vector control interventions targeting gravid females, and improve our ability to study vector dispersal and population structures. Joel will be mentored and supervised by Dr Ulrike Fillinger and Dr Daniel Masiga at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, and Dr David Weetman at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Dr Otavio Ranzani

Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

Towards a better understanding of pulmonary tuberculosis outcomes in São Paulo State, Brazil: a feasible and practical clinical prediction model

Otavio is a physician with an interest in epidemiology and public health. His Fellowship project aims to develop clinical models for predicting the risk of unfavourable outcomes for patients with tuberculosis. By identifying patients who are at high risk of poor outcomes, Otavio believes it will be possible to overcome barriers in treatment, including cost-effectiveness. He will use data from the Tuberculosis Control Program in São Paulo State, which has the highest burden of tuberculosis in Brazil, linking geographical and social aspects. Otavio collaborates with Dr Laura Rodrigues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where this Fellowship will support him to pursue a Master's in Epidemiology.

Dr Winsley Rose

Christian Medical College, India

Risk factors for acquisition of scrub typhus in children in southern India

Winsley is a paediatric infectious disease specialist based at Christian Medical College, Vellore, and has a special interest in infectious disease epidemiology. His proposed research is a case-control study to determine the risk factors for acquiring scrub typhus in children. He plans to combine this information with a vector survey at the likely site of acquisition. At the end of the study, he hopes to provide recommendations for prevention of scrub typhus in children.

Yegnasew Takele

University of Gondar, Ethiopia

The role of arginase activity in the increased rate of relapse and treatment failure of patients with visceral leishmaniasis and HIV co-infection

Yegnasew is a senior medical laboratory technologist, working at the University of Gondar Leishmaniasis Research and Treatment Center. He is interested in the causes of increased relapse rate and treatment failure of visceral leishmaniasis in patients co-infected with HIV. During his project, Yegnasew will measure the activity of arginase and the activation phenotype of cells expressing arginase in the blood of patients with visceral leishmaniasis and HIV co-infection at three stages: before treatment, after treatment, and six months after treatment. Yegnasew works with Dr Pascale Kropf at Imperial College London, where his Fellowship supports his Master's in Immunology, and with Dr Ermias Diro at the University of Gondar.

Dr Ruth Tsigebrhan

Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

Co-morbid mental disorders in people with epilepsy and impact on seizure control, quality of life and disability in rural Ethiopia

Ruth is a psychiatrist from Ethiopia with an interest in investigating the role of common mental disorders in epilepsy. Her study aims to generate high-quality evidence, gathered in a rural area of a low-income country, on co-morbid mental disorders in epilepsy and their impact upon epilepsy treatment outcomes. Ruth's Master's in Mental Health Service and Population Research at King's College London will provide the foundation for the design, execution, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of high-quality mental health research in low-income countries.

2013

Sophiya Dulal

Mother and Infant Research Activities, Nepal

Does daily antenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation, compared to iron and folic acid, lead to a difference in IQ at 10 years of age among children in Nepal?

Sophiya aims to test the effect of daily antenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation on birth weight and gestational duration in Nepal, in order to determine whether children exposed to supplementation have improved IQ at 10 years of age. She will conduct a prospective follow-up study of children born during a randomised controlled trial carried out by Osrin et al. (2005). This research will contribute to the evidence on the effects of micronutrient supplementation in low- and middle-income environments, where low birth weight and micronutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent.

Fredrick Ibinda

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Using Bayesian networks to examine endophenotypes of autism spectrum disorders and their relationship to possible risk factors and genetic polymorphisms

Fred is a statistician with an interest in epidemiology and the burden of neurological conditions such as epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders. His current research examines the burden of epilepsy and neonatal tetanus. He plans to examine the relationship between the endophenotypes of autism, and possible genetic causes. Fred works with Professor Charles Newton and Dr Greg Fegan of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme.

Antoine Sanou

Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme, Burkina Faso

Spatial and temporal distribution of the N1575Y allele and its impact on malaria vector control activities

Antoine is a senior laboratory technician based at the Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme in Burkina Faso. He is studying a new insecticide-resistance haplotype in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae, caused by two mutations in the insecticide target site. Understanding the distribution and impact of this new haplotype on efficacy of vector control tools will help inform best practice in malaria vector control throughout West Africa, where this new mutation is present. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with Professor Hilary Ranson of the Department of Vector Biology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Evelyn Waweru

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Direct facility funding through the Health Sector Services Fund in Kenya’s health centres and dispensaries: considering variations in implementation and perceived impact across counties

Evelyn is a health systems research scientist interested in health policy and financing. Her Fellowship supports her Master's in Health Policy Planning and Financing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a project looking at direct facility funding through the Health Sector Services Fund (HSSF) in Kenya's health centres and dispensaries. This project will consider how the design and implementation of HSSF varies across counties, and explore the perceived impact of different implementation strategies on health facility performance and community engagement. Evelyn works with Dr Sassy Molyneux at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, and Dr Catherine Goodman at the London School.

2012

Mark Francis

Christian Medical College, India

Effectiveness and feasibility of membrane filtration for safe drinking water in rural India

Mark is an epidemiologist based at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. He aims to understand the role of water and sanitation improvements in preventing various enteric infections in India. His current Fellowship supports a study assessing the effectiveness of membrane water filtration in rural Vellore. Mark collaborates with Dr Shabbar Jaffar at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where this Fellowship has also supported Mark's Master's training, equipping him for a career in core epidemiological research.

Emmanuel Kaindoa

Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania

Using human biomass and its spatial distribution to predict mosquito-borne disease transmission patterns

Emmanuel's interests include research on relationships between geography and human health. His research investigates the taxis of mosquito vectors within villages based on the spatial distribution and demographic composition of households. The aim is to predict, identify and target the most intense foci of mosquito-borne disease transmission, based on simple household census data and process-explicit models of mosquito host selection. Emmanuel's future plans are to expand his interests in health research further into spatial epidemiology of diseases, with specific focus on understanding underlying biological processes, including how mosquitoes seek and find humans within communities, and how this influences the epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases.

Ayubo Kampango

Instituto Nacional de Saúde, Mozambique

Host location by exophagic African malaria vectors

Ayubo is a vector biologist from Mozambique with an interest in the basic behaviours of African malaria mosquitoes and the sensory modalities used in locating their hosts for blood-feeding. He is based at the Instituto Nacional de Saúde in Maputo and is studying with Dr Philip McCall at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Ayubo's Fellowship work investigates the host-location behaviour of outdoor-biting malaria vectors, which are more common worldwide and more difficult to control than indoor-feeding species. Improved understanding of the behaviours expressed by these challenging species has the potential to lead to effective tools to target and control them.

Maureen Khasira

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

An investigation into the effects of maternal nutritional status on essential fatty acid transfer during pregnancy and lactation, and its implications for neurodevelopment in infancy

Maureen is a clinical nutritionist with interests in maternal, infant and young child nutrition: specifically, the effects of nutritional status and deficiencies on birth and health outcomes, as well as the interaction between nutrition and infection. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree that will progress into a research project under the supervision of Dr James Berkeley and Professor Andrew Prentice. This study aims to find out whether undernourished pregnant women have a deficiency in essential fatty acids. The goal is to determine the level of essential fatty acids in the breast milk of malnourished mothers, and whether maternal under-nutrition affects the essential fatty acid status and neurodevelopment of their infants.

Moses Kiti

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Towards an improved understanding of the spread of respiratory pathogens using electronic data tracking of human movement and interaction

Moses is a research assistant working at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, with the Virus Epidemiology and Control Group under Professor James Nokes. Moses’s aim is to characterise social contact and movement patterns that shape transmission of the infectious agent. Of interest is the use of paper diaries to collect this data in a low-income setting, as well as novel technology such as RFID and GPS data collection techniques to characterise these patterns. Data generated from this research is expected to be used in mathematical models that will highlight optimal ways of preventing community transmission.

Cherry Lim

Mahidol University, Thailand

Evaluating the true accuracy of diagnostic tests for scrub typhus using Bayesian latent class models

Cherry is undertaking her Fellowship at the Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme in Bangkok. She aims to evaluate the true accuracy of diagnostic tests for scrub typhus using Bayesian latent class models. She will also evaluate how factors including fever days and antibody treatment before hospital admission would influence the accuracy of the diagnostic tests for scrub typhus. At the end of this project, Cherry hopes to suggest a new and more effective combination of diagnostic tests for clinical settings in areas where scrub typhus is endemic.

Gladys Macharia

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Molecular and functional analysis of antibody repertoire and proviral DNA in HIV-1-exposed seronegative individuals

Gladys is interested in learning why not every exposure to HIV has the same outcome, why some people do not become infected, and why some people, when infected, do not progress to AIDS, or progress much faster than others. Her Fellowship will support research that is focused on a molecular and functional analysis of HIV-specific B-cell responses and proviral DNA in HIV-1-exposed seronegative individuals. This work will help to explain whether B cells play a role in protecting HIV-exposed seronegative individuals from infection with HIV.

Dorothy Oluoch

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Who cares about continuity of care? Exploration of community and health worker perceptions and experiences of continuity of care for maternal and child health in Kenya

Dorothy is a medical anthropologist working for the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, in the Health Systems Research Department with Dr Caroline Jones. Dorothy's research interest is in maternal and child health in low-income countries. Her research aims to contribute to the process of more accurately documenting women's lived experiences during pregnancy and how that translates to their health-seeking behaviour. The in-depth understanding of the continuum of care is intended to contribute to the implementation of culturally appropriate interventions for the reduction of maternal and child mortality, particularly in Africa.

Mercy Opiyo

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya

Age structure of populations of tsetse flies under control pressure

Mercy is currently undertaking a Master's in Biology and Control of Parasites and Disease Vectors at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. She has also worked with a tsetse research programme in Uganda and Kenya, supporting the study of fly age structure when the population was under control pressure from an insecticidally treated target campaign.

James Otieno

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Whole-genome respiratory syncytial virus diversity and evolutionary dynamics study of strains isolated from a rural Kenyan hospital, 2002–12

James is a bioinformatician working with the Viral Epidemiology and Control group headed by Professor James Nokes at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme. The group is interested in the epidemiology and control of medically important viral pathogens. James's Fellowship will look at whole-genome respiratory syncytial virus diversity and evolutionary dynamics of strains isolated from a rural Kenyan hospital using a one-of-a-kind long-term hospital surveillance system.

2011

Nonzwakazi Bangani

University of Cape Town, South Africa

The importance of opsonophagocytosis in human tuberculosis

Sanil Joseph

Aravind Eye Hospitals, India

What is the effectiveness of telemedicine in identifying cases of diabetic retinopathy attending diabetic clinics compared with the usual referral system?

Sanil is a hospital management consultant with a special interest in health services research. His Fellowship will support him to pursue a Master's in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and to carry out a research project evaluating the effectiveness of telemedicine-aided screening for a major blinding disease – diabetic retinopathy (DR). DR is a consequence of diabetes mellitus, and early detection and treatment can prevent patients from going blind. Sanil is based at the Lions Aravind Institute of Ophthalmology, part of the Aravind Eye Hospitals in south India.

Mary Nyonda

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Understanding the superinfection process in Plasmodium falciparum

Mary's aim is to understand the superinfection process in malaria. This is a common feature in Plamodium falciparum whereby an infected host acquires new infections before clearing existing ones, and occurs in hosts who have built a measurable amount of immunity. It has an epidemiological impact in that it is a parasite strategy to increase transmission from available resources and promotes genetic diversity through recombination in the mosquito. Mary will work on understanding this by studying the pattern of acquisition and clearance of malaria parasite infections as immunity is acquired and examining the impact of different malaria transmission intensities on the pattern of multiplicity of infection by age.

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