MRC Festival- Featuring Young Scientists from our Vaccines and Immunity Theme

17 June 2016The Young Scientist from MRCG’s Vaccines and Immunity Theme will take you on a journey where you will be able to explore the impact of vaccination strategies on pathogens by conducting immune-epidemiology, clinical trials and laboratory-based research.

Dr Olumuyiwa Owolabi Clinical Coordinator TBCC platform, Vaccines and Immunity Theme

Dr Olumuyiwa Owolabi, Clinical Coordinator TBCC platform, Vaccines and Immunity Theme

Dr Olumuyiwa Owolabi will be presenting, “Serum vitamin D levels in adult TB cases (index and incident) and household contacts in The Gambia”

The aim of my research is to determine the level of serum vitamin D in adult TB cases before and after treatment and their exposed household contacts including TB incident cases in The Gambia. Vitamin D is an important vitamin that supports the human body to fight infections. We look at the blood level of vitamin D and the binding proteins in our Tuberculosis cases treated with TB drugs over 6 months and their household contacts, classified by skin test followed up over a period of 2 years. Their blood level decreases with treatment in TB cases, higher in contacts that developed TB after 1 year of follow-up and lowest in contacts without TB disease.

According to Dr Owolabi, “the results conclude that vitamin D supplementation in active TB patients might not be useful in our environment.”


Dr Uzochukwu Egere, Research Clinician, Vaccines and Immunity Theme

Dr Uzochukwu Egere will present his research on “Contact tracing and Isoniazid prophylaxis for childhood TB control in The Gambia”

My research focuses on the implementation of contact tracing and Isoniazid prophylaxis in The Gambia. Over 4000 child contacts of adults recently diagnosed with TB were traced. We identified TB disease in 64 children within and outside the immediate household of the adult. Isoniazid was provided to 438 children aged less than 5-years of whom 86% completed the 6 months of prophylaxis. The directly-observed-treatment-short course (DOTS) approach to controlling the global TB epidemic inadvertently excluded children, relying heavily on identifying and treating sputum smears positive TB. Contact tracing and Isoniazid prophylaxis are evidence-based approaches to controlling childhood TB but rarely implemented in resource-poor countries where the need is highest.

Dr Egere stated “I want my audience to know that unless we commit to looking for and finding the many children with TB, most of whom are ‘hidden’ in TB-affected households, our dream of a TB-free world would, at best, will be a mirage”


Joseph Mendy, Scientific officer, Tuberculosis Research Group, Vaccine and Immunity Theme

Joseph Mendy will present his research on “Changes in serum CRP, β2 microglobulin and Neopterin levels with TB treatment.”

The aim of Joseph’s research is to assess the relationship between immune activation markers: C-reactive protein (CRP), Beta2microglobulin (B2M) and Neopterin to disease severity at pre and post treatment in adult pulmonary TB patients.Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) accounts for more 1.5 million deaths, 9.6 million new cases annually with an estimate of 2-3 billion people latently infected. It is one of the leading cause of death globally, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although bacteriological confirmation of Mtb bacillus by microscopic smear and culture are the main tests of TB, they are not efficient in clinical practice, especially in paucibacillary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis.

According to Joseph , “presenting my work is like a walk down the aisle of science or climbing the ladder of science. It is an opportunity to show people the important work we are doing in TB research and feedbacks for future work. TB disease is a fight between the host and pathogen, who will win? I hope one day the host wins”


Dr Uduak Okomo, Paediatrician/Research Clinician, Vaccines and Immunity Theme

Dr Uduak Okomo will present her research on “Neonatal infections in The Gambia: aetiology and the influence of maternal colonisation”

Dr Okomo will be presenting preliminary results from a pilot case-control study that sought to describe the organisms responsible for serious infections among hospitalized newborns in The Gambia, as well as understand whether the same organisms that colonise the genital tract of mothers can cause serious infections in their newborns. Serious infections – sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia – represent one of the three major global causes of newborn deaths, particularly in West Africa. In The Gambia, little is known about which organisms are responsible for serious newborn infections, or whether these infections are acquired from the mother or the environment.

According to Dr Okomo, “Nine months is a long time to wait for anything – especially a baby! My greatest satisfaction as a pediatrician comes from seeing the relief and joy in the eyes of a mother when she is able to take her once sick newborn home – alive and well. During this festival, I hope to share some of the exciting evidence-based research we are doing in the area of neonatal infections as part of broader efforts to reduce the unacceptably high burden of neonatal mortality in The Gambia.”