Scientific Strategy

DCE scientific strategy focuses on investigating the interactions between hosts, pathogens and vectors; and evaluating interventions aimed at interrupting transmission and/or reducing the disease burden. Each component can inform the other and provide new opportunities for understanding the dynamics of transmission and identifying new targets for interventions.  The multidisciplinary DCE approach comprises a large epidemiological component combined with strong laboratory (mainly diagnosis) support. The core component of epidemiology and laboratory sciences is complemented, whenever possible, by social sciences investigating the human factors influencing the epidemiology of the diseases and the uptake/coverage of interventions.

In addition, the theme has started adding health system and health economic research components to some of its projects with the aim of ensuring the interventions evaluated, when successful, are promptly translated into practice.  As the aim of the DCE Theme is to control and eliminate disease, it targets not only the disease itself but also asymptomatic or subclinical infections as these are key components for maintaining transmission at community level.

The DCE theme currently has a large heterogeneous but coherent research portfolio that includes diseases of public health importance in West Africa at different stages of control or elimination. The theme combines both well‐established with more innovative research lines; and internally‐ (malaria, bacterial and viral diseases) with externally‐led research (hepatitis B). The research activities span from large epidemiological studies assessing burden of disease to clinical trials (individual or cluster randomized) testing or assessing the effectiveness of new public health interventions



Prof. Umberto D’Alessandro

Theme Leader

Umberto D’Alessandro (MD, MSc, PhD) has substantial work experience in Africa, first as a clinician and later as a clinical epidemiologist.He has been involved in malaria research since 1990, when he carried out the evaluation of the Gambian National programme on insecticide-treated bed nets. He joined the Department of Parasitology at the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium in 1996, where he set up and led the Epidemiology Unit in the Parasitology Department wherehe developed a research programme around malaria. In 2011, he joined the MRCG as Theme Leader and developed a research program around the malaria elimination in The Gambia and West Africa. It includes studies on the dynamics of malaria transmission and factors related to its heterogeneity, and the evaluation of different primaquine doses as gametocytocidal.  In January 2014, he became both Professor of Epidemiology at the LSHTM and Director of the MRCG.



Dr. Anna Roca Rocarorororororo

 Theme Coordinator

Anna Roca is an infectious disease epidemiologist with significant experience leading research groups in Southern and Western Africa. She has an honorary appointment as a Senior Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is in the MRC Program Leader Track. She has served in several international pneumonia experts groups; including WHO, BMGF, Global Burden of Disease and Decade of Vaccines. Dr Roca leads an independent line of research focused on the dynamics of bacterial infections and how these dynamics are modified by public health interventions. To understand how bacteria are transmitted to the neonates and design novel interventions to block neonatal transmission are her main research priorities. Her research portfolio includes the evaluation on how new intervention impact on antibiotic resistance.



Featured Publications

Oral azithromycin given during labour decreases bacterial carriage in the mothers and their offspring: a double-blind randomized trial

High genetic diversity of Staphylococcus aureus strains colonising the nasopharynx of Gambian villagers before widespread use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines

Hepatitis E virus infection and acute-on-chronic liver failure in West Africa: a case-control study from The Gambia.