"4 weeks in Liverpool made me realise how much work needs to be done in Malawi..... After I graduate I still want to stay in Malawi and do what I can to improve the condition of our hospitals/health centres"
"I had a fantastic time in Malawi, really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. I liked the freedom of being able to choose what to get involved with, especially as I was interested in psychiatry and public health which I don't think are very common choices."
"I enjoyed experiencing the College of Medicine teaching- I saw some fascinating lectures whilst there- and the opportunity to see the research going on was totally inspiring. Another brilliant experience was going into the community to meet one of the palliative care patients which I would highly recommend."
Dr Melita Gordon, through the Institute of Translational Medicine, and supported by WTCGHR, was awarded £72,000 by the Nuffield Foundation, for a 3 year ‘Undergraduate Medical Student Training in Health Research’ exchange programme with the College of Medicine (CoM) at the University of Malawi.
WTCGHR undertook full administration of this project, the first project benefitting undergraduates as all joint initiatives to date have focused solely on postgraduate research. With on average only 60 doctors graduating annually in Malawi there are few suitable applicants for these postgraduate opportunities. Malawi also has major difficulties retaining key staff, stunting research infrastructure development and impacting significantly on healthcare provision. Talented people are migrating due to perceived lack of career development opportunities and these perceptions are rooted in undergraduate experiences. This project aimed to grow a cohort of Malawian doctors who see academic medicine as attractive early in their careers, and sensitise them to advances in clinical science which could assist health problems in Malawi. This group included the most gifted, whose training was relevant to Health Research and who stand the highest chance of future pivotal roles nationally and regionally.
The project offered a special study module with six Liverpool students spending one month in Blantyre, Malawi, and Liverpool reciprocating by hosting six Malawian students. Over the three year project a total of 36 students have benefited from international study. In addition to the exchange itself, the project has offered the rest of the cohort from the 4th year in Malawi a comparable training experience by holding an open competition for students to apply for three- to four-week project extensions and a small funding award. Four cohorts of Liverpool students have now visited Malawi and our third and final Malawian visiting cohort visited Liverpool in July 2013, all offering great feedback about the programme.
See below for pictures of our third cohort from Malawi enjoying the British weather in July 2013!
Following the end of the programme, the centre has been keeping in touch with our cohorts to track their careers. Many of the students, from both Malawi and Liverpool, have now started to make the move into research, including taking up Masters programmes and applying to academic clinical fellowships.
WTCGHR are pleased to offer administrative support for the Joint PhD Programme between the University of Liverpool and the University of Malawi, which was established in 2010 as part of our contribution to the training of biomedical researchers in a region that needs excellent science to underpin developments in healthcare. The joint PhD programme has hosted 17 students so far, seven of whom have completed their studies and passed their viva examination. Particular successes from the programme include Dr Tonney Nyirenda, who has just been appointed as a lecturer at the University of Malawi College of Medicine (CoM).
A delegation representing the University of Liverpool Graduate School and the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences has visited CoM and the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW) in Blantyre. The team of Professor Graham Kemp (Faculty Director of Postgraduate Research), Dr Melita Gordon (UoL academic lead for the programme) and Dr Richard Hinchcliffe (Director of Postgraduate Training) inspected the arrangements for the joint PhD programme being conducted between the two institutions and delivered a supervisor development session as part of the University’s commitment to help build research capacity and develop new African researchers.
In October 2014, Dr Richard Hinchcliffe visited Blantyre for a second time to deliver training courses for research supervisors and examiners, using materials adapted from University of Liverpool training materials. A total of 30 enthusiastic delegates attended the courses and found them highly beneficial to their training. Discussions are now underway to further improve training in the future, and providing more structured support in-country.
900+ wide-ranging and geographically relevant strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 1 have now been studied by a new Africa-based research consortium based at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW) at the University Of Malawi College Of Medicine (http://www.mlw.medcol.mw) in partnership with teams at the Karonga Prevention Study in Malawi, Niger, South Africa and the Gambia together with a number of other African and Global collaborators .
The Pneumococcal African Genomics (PAGe) consortium (https://www.pagegenomes.org) received $1.5million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study this pathogen which is responsible serious disease and epidemics across sub-Saharan Africa and have analysed why this serotype is particulalrly associated with invasive pneumococcal disease and spreads so quickly, causing outbreaks in some areas of Africa.
Data from the study will contribute to the current pneumococcal vaccine development programme led by PATH in the USA and will feed into the development of a protein-based vaccine that will enhance or replace current Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines (PCVs).
According to Dr Dean Everett (pictured above) who is one of the lead researchers on the project and based in Malawi at MLW: “Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 1 is one of the biggest causes of pneumococcal disease in sub-Sahara Africa and accounts for a quarter of infections in Malawi.”
“Understanding the genetic traits that underpin serotype 1 and contribute towards its epidemic potential will help us to refine vaccine target discovery and guide the vaccine development process in order to provide better protection to those in sub-Saharan Africa where this serotype is most prevalent. This is an important first step in the process and importantly it has been driven by researchers in Africa.”
Partner organisation involved in the consortium include: Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, University of Malawi College of Medicine, the University of Liverpool; Centre de Recherche Medicale et Sanitaire, Niger; National Health Laboratory Service, South Africa; Medical Research Council, The Gambia; the Wellcome Trust; the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine; the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Emory University in the USA.
Dr Dean Everett and team from the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme have now been awarded $5.5m over five years from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to define and nature and extent of influenza-associated Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) amongst adults and children presenting to a large Central Hospital in Malawi in an area with highly endemic malaria. The project started in September 2014 and is currently in its setting up period.