MRCG awarded highly competitive Medical Research Council Foundation Award

Award to pursue Evaluating novel diagnostics and enabling preventive measures for childhood tuberculosis between the United Kingdom (UK) and partners in Sub-Saharan Africa

MRC Unit The Gambia’s Professor Beate Kampmann, Theme Leader, Vaccines and Immunity and co-investigator Dr Uzochukwu Egere have recently been awarded a highly competitive Medical Research Council (MRC) Foundation Award to pursue translational research on “Evaluating novel diagnostics and enabling preventive measures for childhood tuberculosis between the United Kingdom (UK) and partners in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

MRCG’s Reach 4 Kids Team

The Foundation Award represents the MRC’s first phase of research funding anticipated from the £1.5bn Global Challenges Research Fund. The 41 Foundation Awards led by the MRC, and supported by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), have been allocated to support ambitious, novel and distinctive research in non-communicable diseases and infections.The award will enable Prof Kampmann’s team at MRCG to build upon the research conducted during her MRCG Program Grant “Reach 4 Kids” and will additionally involve new partners in Africa and their respective national TB control programs- “Reach4Kids Africa”. The ultimate aims are to validate promising new diagnostics and toextend much needed preventative measures to protect young children exposed to TB. It will lay the foundations for a network of dedicated paediatricians, public health personnel and researchers in our region. According to Declan Mulkeen, MRC’s Chief of Strategy, “The five research councils involved in the Foundation Awards have been working collectively to provide new and broader approaches to meet global research challenges. It’s encouraging to see these projects tackling the broader environmental and economic factors affecting health, as well as using new technologies to bring cost-effective treatments within reach.”

Community Sensitisation on Childhood TB

Furthermore “The MRC has a strong track record in Global Health research, often in partnership. Infectious disease has been the main focus and remains the largest area of funding, but as countries develop, their health needs change. The Global Challenges Research Fund will enable us to tackle a broader range of health problems, for local and global benefit. These awards represent a significant win for global research. We hope that many of the research partnerships being supported will move on to even more ambitious work over the coming years”, he added. Commenting on the award Professor Kampman said “TB in children is a much-neglected condition worldwide. I am absolutely delighted that our Reach 4 Kids program of work has been rewarded with this grant, which will enable us to reach out beyond The Gambia to new partners in Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania in order to improve the management of children affected by TB, and to create a larger network for science and advocacy”. When asked to comment on the award Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, Unit Director said, “This is an extremely prestigious award that will allow us to expand our research activities related to TB in children to other countries in West Africa. It also shows The Unit’s ability to compete for funding with some of the best academic institutions in the world. I would like to congratulate Prof Kampmann and her team for this wonderful achievement.”