Matthew Cairns BSc MSc PhD

Associate Professor in Epidemiology


I am an epidemiologist focusing mainly on malaria. I joined the Medical Research Council (MRC) Tropical Epidemiology Group in 2010.  Prior to joining the TEG I completed a PhD at LSHTM, funded by the MRC and supervised by Paul Milligan. Before my PhD I studied the MSc in Epidemiology at LSHTM, also supported by the MRC. My first degree was in Biological Sciences.




I mainly teach by Distance Learning, and am co-Module Organiser of EPM301, Epidemiology of Communicable Diseases.  I also teach on a number of MSc modules in London (mainly Statistical Methods in Epidemiology, Extended Epidemiology and related short-courses). 


My research is focused on prevention of malaria in high risk groups (mainly children and pregnant women), primarily through drug-based approaches.

An area of particular interest for several years has been seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), previously called intermittent preventive treatment in children (IPTc). This is an approach to prevent malaria in children in areas where transmission is highly seasonal, recommended by WHO in 2012: .  I am particularly interested in how this intervention can be optimised, how it can be adapted to areas with different malaria epidemiology (including areas with less seasonal transmission), and how expanding the age range given SMC might affect its impact on burden and on transmission.  I am also interested in alternative approaches to use drugs to prevent malaria in children, including the used of community-based health workers for case management, ideas developed during my recent MRC Population Health Scientist Fellowship.

I have been involved for some years in research on malaria in pregnancy (MiP), and was the statistician for a large multi-centre study in West Africa of intermittent screening and treatment. Ongoing work on MiP includes estimating the impact of scale-up of the existing policy of intermittent preventive treatment, and exploring ways to maximise the impact of existing tools on the MiP burden.

More broadly, I have been interested for some time in the effectiveness of combined malaria control strategies, to improve the effectiveness of drug-based approaches (and vice versa). Integrated approaches are essential to reducing morbidity and mortality in the areas with the highest malaria burden, as well as in the context of future attempts at malaria elimination.

Research areas

  • Drug resistance
  • Modelling


  • Epidemiology
  • Statistics

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Infectious disease
  • Malaria

Other interests

  • Intermittent Preventive Treatment
  • Malaria Centre
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