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UCL collaboration scoops Outstanding Research Team award in Zambia

Sophie Vinter14 November 2016

The University of Zambia-UCL Medical School research and training project team scooped the Outstanding Research Team award at the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership Forum A UCL Medical School collaboration with the University of Zambia has scooped a prestigious award in recognition of its equitable partnership model for conducting research into poverty-related diseases.

The UNZA-UCLMS partnership, established by Professor Alimuddin Zumla (UCL Division of Infection and Immunity), won the Outstanding Research Team Award during the eighth European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials (EDCTP) Partnership Forum.

The President of the Republic of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, presented the award and €50,000 prize money to members of the team.

The award was collected by Dr Peter Mwaba (former UCL PhD student of Professor Zumla), Dr Nathan Kapata (National Tuberculosis Programme Manager), Dr Aaron Shibemba, (Head of Pathology) and UCL Postdoctoral Scientists Dr Matthew Bates and Dr Jim Huggett.

Crossing disciplines and borders

Professor Zumla established the programme in 1994 with the Dean of the University of Zambia Medical School, Professor Chifumbe Chintu, as a novel model of academic partnership.

It would take forward African science away from domination by the North, instead championing the cause for fair and equitable North-South and South-South research, training and capacity development initiatives.

Since then the collaboration has linked 34 institutions from across West, Central, South and East Africa with 28 European institutions.

The partnership has led to training for numerous medical, scientific, nursing and laboratory personnel, capacity building for conducting clinical trials, and the development of valuable research infrastructure.

Prof Zumla said: “We are extremely proud, honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious award from the EDCTP. Success of complex multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional and multi-country educational, capacity development and research programmes is critically dependent on selfless, committed, and dedicated staff. This award acknowledges the exceptional contributions made over 23 years by my teams here at UCL and in Zambia in collaboration with all our partner institutions in Africa and Europe.”

UNZA-UCLMS Project team (Centre Professor Zumla with Dr Peter Maaba and Dr Nathan Kapata)

Mutually beneficial

The collaboration was based on the principal that partnerships must engage all parties in a way that is mutually beneficial, and that all research must be twinned and aligned to local capacity development and training.

The team has made great headway in tackling poverty-related diseases over the years, achieving more than 500 publications, 20 textbooks and over 100 articles in The Lancet journals.

Its clinical trials, autopsy and translational research data have been used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and African governments for improving management and prevention of poverty-related diseases.

It brings together scientists, funders, politicians, and advocates to unite together in the fight against infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, diseases declared global emergencies by the WHO in 1993.

UCL Professor conferred Honorary Doctorate recognising partnership work

Sophie Vinter27 April 2016

Professor Alimuddin ZumlaUCL Professor Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine (MDhc) by Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institutet (KI), in recognition of his partnership work and research into infectious disease.

The professor in Infectious Diseases and International Health at UCL’s Faculty of Medical Sciences has made seminal contributions to the understanding and advancement of knowledge of the epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, rapid diagnosis and treatment of respiratory tract infections, particularly tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

He was distinguished by the KI Board of Research for establishing equitable research partnerships between Europe, USA, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as effectively aligning these to capacity development and training activities.

Tackling global emergencies

Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS were declared global emergencies by the World Health Organization in 1992 and Prof Zumla’s data have been used for developing new global diagnostic, prevention and treatment guidelines.

Working closely with KI researchers on numerous high impact publications, including Professor Markus Maeurer with whom he has collaborated over the past seven years, Professor Zumla co-established the Host-Directed Therapies network consortium of 64 international partners.

Its objectives include evaluating new clinical trials, developing high quality laboratory infrastructure at African partner sites and empowering a high calibre cadre of African researchers to lead future investigations.

Driving force for training

Alimuddin Zumla, Honorary Doctor of Medicine with members of the Host-Directed Therapies networkA statement on KI website reads: “Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded numerous honors, medals and prizes not only for his scientific excellence, but also for his contributions to international policy development and advancement of public health agenda on infectious diseases with epidemic potential.

“He has also been a major driving force for training of young developing country physicians, scientists and laboratory personnel.”

Each year KI confers honorary doctorates to individuals for their “vital scientific achievements or significant contributions to the university or humanity at large.”

Professor Zumla will have his doctorate formally conferred at a ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall on 13 May 2016.