Jump to    Selected Key Publications     Research Interests     Projects   

Unit Director and Theme Leader - Disease Control and Elimination

Professor Umberto D'Alessandro graduated in Medicine & Surgery from the University of Pisa, Italy, and then obtained both his MSc and PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, in 1990 and 1996 respectively. He worked as a clinician in Benin and Kenya. In 1990, he joined the MRC Unit The Gambia as clinical epidemiologist and carried out the evaluation of the Gambian National Program on insecticide-treated bed nets that showed the intervention decreased mortality among children by 25%. In 1996, he joined the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, where he developed a research program around three themes: antimalarial treatment, including drug resistance, malaria prevention, and the P. vivax in vitro cycle, implemented in several malaria endemic countries, e.g. Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin, Vietnam, Peru, etc. In 2011, he joined the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia (MRCG) as the leader of the Disease Control & Elimination Theme. In January 2014, he was appointed Director of the Unit and Professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His research program on malaria is built around questions related to malaria elimination/eradication.


       Selected Key Publications

  1. Amambua-Ngwa A, Jeffries D, Amato R, Worwui A, Karim M, Ceesay S, Nyang H, Nwakanma D, Okebe J, Kwiatkowski D, Conway DJ, D'Alessandro U. Consistent signatures of selection from genomic analysis of pairs of temporal and spatial Plasmodium falciparum populations from The Gambia. Sci Rep. 2018 Jun 26;8(1):9687. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28017-5. This paper reports the changes that occurred over time and space in the parasite population genome in The Gambia.
  2. Mwesigwa J, Achan J, Di Tanna GL, Affara M, Jawara M, Worwui A, Hamid-Adiamoh M, Kanuteh F, Ceesay S, Bousema T, Drakeley C, Grietens KP, Lindsay SW, Van Geertruyden JP, D'Alessandro U. Residual malaria transmission dynamics varies across The Gambia despite high coverage of control interventions. PLoS One. 2017 Nov 2;12(11):e0187059. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187059. eCollection 2017. This is one of the outcomes of my MRC Program Grant and is a careful study on the residual malaria transmission in The Gambia.
  3. Okebe J, Bousema T, Affara M, Di Tanna GL, Dabira E, Gaye A, Sanya-Isijola F, Badji H, Correa S, Nwakanma D, Van Geertruyden JP, Drakeley C, D'Alessandro U. The Gametocytocidal Efficacy of Different Single Doses of Primaquine with Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in Asymptomatic Parasite Carriers in The Gambia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. EBioMedicine. 2016 Nov;13:348-355. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.032. Epub 2016 Oct 23. I was the principal investigator of this trial funded by the Joint Global Health Trial Scheme. This paper reports the effect of different doses of primaquine on the gametocyte carriage in asymptomatic, malaria-infected individuals.
  4. PREGACT Study Group. Four Artemisinin-Based Treatments in African Pregnant Women with Malaria. N Engl J Med. 2016 Mar 10;374(10):913-27. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1508606. I was the coordinating investigator of this trial funded by the EDCTP. This paper reports the results of a multicentre trial that compared different artemisinin-based combination treatments for the management of malaria in pregnancy.
  5. RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership. Efficacy and safety of RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine with or without a booster dose in infants and children in Africa: final results of a phase 3, individually randomised, controlled trial. Lancet. 2015 Jul 4;386(9988):31-45. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60721-8. This is the last of a series of papers reporting the results of the large, multicentre trial on the candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S. I was one of the investigators.
  6. Four Artemisinin-Based Combinations (4ABC) Study Group. A head-to-head comparison of four artemisinin-based combinations for treating uncomplicated malaria in African children: a randomized trial. PLoS Med. 2011 Nov;8(11):e1001119. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001119. I have been the coordinating investigator of one of the first trial funded by the EDCTP. We compared 4 artemisinin-based combination treatments for the management of malaria in children <5 years.
  7. Van Geertruyden JP, Mulenga M, Mwananyanda L, Chalwe V, Moerman F, Chilengi R, Kasongo W, Van Overmeir C, Dujardin JC, Colebunders R, Kestens L, D'Alessandro U. HIV 1 immune suppression and antimalarial treatment outcome in Zambian adults with uncomplicated malaria. J Infect Dis 2006; 194(7): 917 925. Risk of antimalarial treatment failure is higher among HIV-infected individuals with low CD4 count.
  8. Attaran A, Barnes KI, Curtis C, D'Alessandro U, Fanello CI, Galinski MR, Kokwaro G, Looareesuwan S, Makanga M, Mutabingwa TK, Talisuna A, Trape JF, Watkins WM. WHO, the Global Fund, and medical malpractice in malaria treatment. Lancet 2004; 363: 237 240. This is an opinion paper that contributed to the change of national antimalarial treatment policies in African countries.
  9. U. D'Alessandro, B.O. Olaleye, W. McGuire, P. Langerock, M.K. Aikins, M.C. Thomson, S. Bennett, M.K. Cham, B.A. Cham, B.M. Greenwood (1995) Reduction in mortality and in morbidity from malaria in Gambian children following the introduction of a National Insecticide Impregnated Bednet Programme. Lancet. 345:479-483. This paper showed that insecticide-treated bednets reduced all-cause mortality in children <10 years by 25%.
  10. U. D'Alessandro, A. Leach, C.J. Drakeley, S. Bennett, B.O. Olaleye, G.W. Fegan, M. Jawara, P. Langerock, M.O. George, G.A.T. Targett, B.M. Greenwood (1995) An efficacy trial of the malaria vaccine SPf66 in Gambian infants. Lancet. 346:462-467. This paper reports one of the first phase 3 trials of the candidate vaccine SPf66, and showed no protective efficacy.


       Research Interests

  • Malaria epidemiology
  • Antimalarial treatment
  • Malaria control interventions
  • Maternal and neonatal health