Celebrating 70 glorious years of existence

MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG) is celebrating 70 glorious years of tackling major infectious diseases of global public health importance in sub‐Saharan Africa and beyond. MRC Unit The Gambia has built a reputation as being one of the premier research institutions in Africa, hosting scientific projects funded by a range of international organisations. Over the years, our research outputs have informed the implementation of public health interventions that have had (and continue to have) a major impact on childhood mortality and morbidity, not only in The Gambia but also in other sub-Saharan African countries.

Keneba Field Station was established in 1949, Basse Field Station in 1982, Farafenni Field Station in 1983 and Caio Field Site in 1988.

The following are some of MRCG research outputs over the years:

1964: malaria affects birth weight and child growth and antimalarial antibodies protect against malaria

1988: (with Oxford University) some heavily exposed commercial sex workers are resistant to the infection of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

1995: insecticide-treated bednets decrease by 25% all-cause mortality in children aged 1 to 9 years

2001: first efficacy trial of the malaria vaccine candidate RTS,S carried out in semi-immune adult men

2004: publication of the Flies and Eyes study results showing the role of flies in spreading trachoma and the provision of latrines for trachoma control

2005: protective efficacy of the pneumococcal vaccine is 77% against invasive pneumococcal disease by vaccine serotypes, 50% against disease by all serotypes, and 15% against all-cause admissions

2008: dramatic decline of the malaria burden in The Gambia between 2003 and 2007 showed by a retrospective analysis

2011: achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 4 by The Gambia as shown by the substantial reduction of childhood mortality observed in Farafenni thanks to MRCG Health and Demographic Surveillance System in Farafenni

2016: the Pneumococcal Surveillance Project shows 55% reduction of severe pneumococcal pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis in children thanks to the implementation of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines delivered within the Gambian Expanded Programme on Immunisation

Over the years, The Unit has acquired recognition for an exceptional concentration of scientific expertise and high quality research platforms within the West African region. The high quality of science we produce is underpinned by a combination of our excellent laboratory facilities and easy access to the field with well‐defined populations that are highly supportive of our research. We have excellent clinical services, rigorous ethical procedures and ability to deliver Good Clinical Practice (GCP) compliant clinical trials.

  • In celebration of this milestone, there are series of planned activities including:
    Open Day in Basse, scheduled in February, to showcase our scientific achievements and give members of the public the opportunity to interact with staff and learn more about what we are doing;
  • MRC Festival, scheduled in June, to promote dialogue with the public about the global benefits of our medical research;
  • Scientific symposium in November to bring together our stakeholders so that we can share our achievements, build partnerships, strengthen our relationships and look forward.