The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW) -- one of the Wellcome Trust's major overseas programmes -- is to receive around £14 million over 5 years in renewed funding, it is announced today.
Based at the University of Malawi College of Medicine and with additional support from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool, the research programme will continue its main focus on the infectious diseases that cause considerable death and disability in Africa, such as malaria, pneumonia, HIV and tuberculosis, non-typhoidal salmonella, meningitis and the evaluation of vaccines to prevent pneumococcal and rotavirus infections.
Professor Rob Heyderman, Director of MLW, said: "Renewal of our Wellcome Trust funding will further consolidate MLW's position as an internationally leading health research institution led by Malawian & International Scientists, pursuing scientific excellence and improving the health of people in sub-Saharan Africa living in both urban and rural communities."
Another major focus of MLW's work has been the training of local doctors and science graduates -- the people who will become the country's health leaders in both medicine and research. MLW, in partnership with the University of Malawi College of Medicine , works closely with the South African Consortium for Research Excellence (SACORE) to strengthen research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership also hosts masters programmes and training fellowships for scientists in low- and middle-income countries, as well as being part of the African Institutions Initiative.
Over the next five years, the Programme will also research the growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa, including diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic lung disease. MLW researchers will work closely with the Malawi Epidemiology and Intervention Research Unit (MEIRU), supported by a Strategic Award to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to address the growing burden of NCDs in Malawi and examine the interactions with infectious diseases.
In addition to its clinical research, MLW has an active research initiative in the social sciences led by Dr Nicola Desmond, who recently received a Society and Ethics Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust to investigate the social impact of HIV self-testing. The renewed core funding for the centre will help to integrate social sciences across the breadth of the research programme, to address the complex and dynamic cultural contexts that impact on perceptions of health and treatment seeking behaviour.
Dr Jimmy Whitworth, Head of International Activities at the Wellcome Trust, said: "The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome programme has an excellent track record not just for its research, but for investing in the next generation of African researchers. The challenges in this area are many but with continued support from the Wellcome Trust, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool, MLW is building a long-term future for research in the region that will contribute to improvements in the health of Malawians and beyond."