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Programme Leader and Deputy Theme Leader
Disease Control and Elimination Theme

Dr Anna Roca is an infectious disease epidemiologist with significant experience leading research groups in Southern and Western Africa. She has served in several international pneumonia experts groups; including WHO, BMGF, GBD and DoV. Dr Roca’s work includes studies on the transmission dynamics of bacterial infections and how these dynamics are modified by public health interventions that are deployable in resource-constraint settings. During the last few years her portfolio has mainly focused on the impact of using oral azithromycin (through mass drug administration or administration of the drug during labour) on bacterial transmission, severe infection (i.e. sepsis and meningitis) and mortality. Her work extends into the effect of these interventions on establishing antibiotic resistance in the community. Her current role at the MRCG at the LSHTM is Deputy Theme Leader of one of the three research themes at the Unit, Disease Control and Elimination, which has more than 250 employees. Dr Roca is a member of the Scientific Coordinating Committee and Leadership at the Unit and as such part participates in strategic decisions.

       Selected Key Publications

  1. Usuf E, Bottomley C, Bojang E, Cox I, Bojang A, Gladstone R, Kampmann B, Hill PC and Roca A. Persistence of nasopharyngeal pneumococcal vaccine serotypes and increase of non-vaccine serotypes among vaccinated infants and their mothers five years after PCV13 introduction in The Gambia. Clin Infect Dis 2018, doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy726
  2. Bojang A, Camara B, Jagne Cox I, Oluwalana C, Lette K, Usuf E, Bottomley C, Howden BP, D'Alessandro U, Roca A. Long-term Impact of Oral Azithromycin taken by Gambian women during Labour on Prevalence and Antibiotic Susceptibility of S. pneumoniae and S. aureus in their Infants: Follow up of a Randomized Clinical Trial. Clin Infect Dis 2018, doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy254.
  3. Roca A, Okomo U, Usuf E, Oriero EC, Janha R, Achan J, Cerami C; MRC Unit The Gambia Women in Science Working Group. African women working in global health: closing the gender gap in Africa? Lancet Glob Health. 2018. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30063-9.
  4. Usuf E, Bojang A, Camara B, Jagne I, Oluwalana C, Bottomley C, D’Alessandro U and Roca A. Maternal pneumococcal nasopharyngeal carriage and risk factors for neonatal carriage following the introduction of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines in The Gambia. Clin Microbiol Infect 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2017.07.018.
  5. Oluwalana C, Camara B, Bottomley C, Bojang A et al, D’Alessandro U and Roca A. Azithromycin in Labor Lowers Clinical Infections in Mothers and Newborns: A Double-Blind Trial. Pediatrics 2017. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2281
  6. Roca A, Oluwalana C, Bojang A, Camara B, Demba A, Bottomley C, D’Alessandro U. Oral azithromycin given during labour decreases bacterial carriage in the mothers and their offspring: a double-blind randomized trial. Clin Microbiol Infect 2016.  doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2281.
  7. Miyahara R, Jasseh M, Gomez P, Shimakawa Y, Greenwood B et al and Roca A. Barriers to timely administration of birth dose vaccines in The Gambia, West Africa. Vaccine 2016.
  8. Burr SE, Milne S, Jafali J, Bojang E et al and Roca A. Mass administration of azithromycin and Streptococcus pneumoniae carriage: cross-sectional surveys in the Gambia. Bull World Health Organ 2014. doi: 10.2471/BLT.13.133462.
  9. Nair H, Brooks WA, Katz M, Roca A, Berkley JA, Madhi SA et al. Global burden of respiratory infections due to seasonal influenza in young children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2011.
  10. Roca A et al. Effects of community-wide vaccination with PCV-7 on pneumococcal nasopharyngeal carriage in the Gambia: a cluster-randomized trial. PLoS Med 2011. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001107.

       Research Interests

  • Preventive strategies deployable in resource constraint settings
  • Community transmission of bacterial and design of intervention to decrease transmission
  • Prophylactic use of azithromycin, including intra-partum azithromycin
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Neonatal sepsis
  • Maternal sepsis
  • Child mortality

       Projects

  • Ancillary studies to the PregnAnZI trials.
  • Pre-delivery administration of azithromycin to prevent neonatal sepsis and death: a phase III double-blind randomized clinical trial.
  • Preventing Young Infant Infections using Azithromycin in Labour (PreYIAL): a blinded, randomised, placebo-controlled trial in Fiji.
  • PREgnancy Care Integrating Translational Science Everywhere (PRECISE).
  •  Prevention of bacterial infections in the newborn by pre-delivery administration of azithromycin: a placebo-controlled randomized trial.
  • A phase 3, randomized open-label trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of PCV-13 formulated in multi-dose vials given with routine pediatric vaccinations in healthy infants.