MRC Unit - The Gambia
Established in The Gambia in 1947, the MRC is the UK's single largest investment in medical research in a developing country. The Unit's research focuses on infectious diseases of immediate concern to The Gambia and the continent of Africa, with the aim of reducing the burden of illness and death in the country and the developing world as a whole.
In 2010, Prof. Beate Kampmann from Imperial College was appointed as the Theme Leader to develop the research portfolio for Vaccines & Immunity at the MRC Unit. The activities of the team, which also involves PhD students and post docs form Imperial College span from laboratory science to clinical trials to assess safety, immunogenicity and ultimately efficacy of vaccines, but also to gain mechanistic insights into host responses to vaccines and pathogens using state-of-the art laboratory approaches. It allows us to connect from the bench to the bedside and to bring new opportunities back to the bench.
Our research informs the next generation of vaccine development, supported by molecular data from pathogen surveillance and insights into host responses.
In addition, research on TB represents an important proportion of the research portfolio. The aim is to identify key factors associated with susceptibility and protection in adults and children, including the role of mycobacterial strains and epidemiological factors for transmission of TB within households, through our well established TB case-control platform. The insights from longitudinal household studies are essential to design improved vaccines and diagnostics for TB.
Over the last 4 years, the Vaccines & Immunity Theme has conducted clinical trials of pneumococcus, meningococcus, TB/HIV/malaria, polio and TB vaccines and enrolled over 4000 children into clinical studies. An additional focus is our work investigating candidates for neonatal/maternal immunisation, such as pertussis, Group B streptococcus, Influenza and RSV, and to assess rotavirus vaccine immunogenicity.
Our research team at MRC Unit -The Gambia
Dr. Toyin Togun is an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow, Vaccinology Theme. MRC Unit, The Gambia. His PhD research project is investigating the potential contributions of immune biomarkers of TB exposure, infection and disease to the existing clinical algorithms to improve the diagnosis of tuberculosis in children.
Previously: Research Clinician, TB Case Contact (TBCC) research platform, Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit, The Gambia. MSc Public health in Developing Countries, LSHTM, London, UK.
Dr Leopold Tientcheu is an MRC postdoctoral scientist in the Vaccinology Theme at the MRC Unit, The Gambia. He is studying how different M. tuberculosis complex strains (e.g M. africanum and M. tuberculosis) influence tuberculosis pathogenesis, host immune responses and outcomes of anti-TB chemotherapy in both adults and children in order to improve TB treatment.
Previously: PhD in Immunology of Mycobacteria, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Saikou Y Bah is a PhD student studying the involvement of lipid metabolism in tuberculosis. The project will look at the transcriptome of whole blood infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis/ M bovis (BCG) following addition of different lipid related compounds.
Previously: MSc Bioinformatics and systems biology, University of Manchester BSc with first class honours in Microbiology, University of Manchester. Senior Laboratory technician, Medical Research Council, The Gambia Unit.
Dr Uzochukwu Egere is leading the Epidemiology and Clinical aspect of the Childhood TB studies at the MRC Unit the Gambia from which he is doing a PhD in International Health based at the Centre for International Health University of Munich, Germany. His study is on Contact tracing and Isoniazid prophylaxis for prevention of childhood TB in the Gambia.
Previously: Research Clinician, Pneumococcal carriage studies, Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia.