Professor Martin Antonio
PhD FRCP FRCPath
of Molecular Microbiology & Global Health, Director WHO Collaborating Centre for New Vaccines Surveillance
I am based mainly in The Gambia at the MRC Unit The Gambia @ LSHTM, where I am MRC Principal Investigator and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for New Vaccines Surveillance. I am a member of the MRC Unit The Gambia @ LSHTM Senior Strategic Leadership Board and Chairs the Unit’s West Africa Strategy and partnership. In this role, I represent the Unit at most regional meetings in Africa including the West Africa Global Health Alliance, ECOWAS, AU's Africa CDC, WHO AFRO and West Africa Health Organisation.
I obtained my PhD from Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London in 1997. I am a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologist (UK) by published works and Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London, UK). I am also Honorary Professor at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK and previously an Honorary Professor at LSHTM until the MRC Unit The Gambia was transferred to LSHTM in Feb 2018.
I serve on numerous Scientific Advisory Boards & Committees including Board member of the West Africa Global Health Alliance (WAGHA), member of The Gambia Government/MRC Joint Ethics Committee (and acted as Scientific advisor on the ethics committee), member of the MRC Unit The Gambia Scientific Coordinating Committee, Co-Chair of The Gambia Government MDR-TB National Committee, member of the International Human Microbiome Consortium, member of WHO technical working group for Invasive Bacterial Vaccine Preventable Disease (IB-VPD) Surveillance Network (Geneva), Expert Panel Member on Antimicrobial Resistance, Department of Health, UK, Special Advisor to WHO on Meningitis Outbreaks in Africa, a member of Board of Trustees SOS Children's Villages The Gambia. Additionally, served as Expert Panel Member on diarrheal diseases, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
Previously served as a member of European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Developing Countries Coordinating Committee (TB expert for West Africa Region), member of International Scientific Advisory Board, University of Cape Town Clinical Infectious Diseases Research initiative (CIDRI). Published more than 175 peer-reviewed scientific publications and supervised nine PhD students in UK universities.
I am the Research Degrees Coordinator at the MRC Unit The Gambia @ LSHTM and I chair the Higher Degrees Committee.
Developed (lab component) three-week free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Disease Outbreak.
I contribute to the MSc Distance Learning courses in Medical Microbiology, Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases and Control of Infectious Disease.
I have also hosted MSc summer research project students from LSHTM in The Gambia.
I teach on the Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Course on Molecular Approaches to Clinical Microbiology in Africa.
I have supervised nine UK PhD students and examined several PhD thesis in UK and South Africa Universities.
My research is focused on the leverage of innovative molecular technologies in diagnosis of tropical diseases (mainly tuberculosis, meningitis, pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases), investigation of meningitis outbreaks and transmission, antimicrobial resistance and clinical trials. I lead a number of large-scale international research projects, including serving as the WHO Reference Laboratory for Invasive Pneumococcal Disease (IPD) and establishing large IPD surveillance platforms across twelve countries in West and Central Africa for measuring pneumococcal conjugate vaccine impact.
Additional, the WHO Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) for New Vaccines Surveillance provides technical support to countries in the African Region to improve on surveillance of Invasive Bacterial Diseases (IBD). A key objective of the centre is to support WHO sentinel sites to (1) Quantify the burden of invasive bacterial disease to inform policy makers on new vaccine introduction (2) Measure disease burden and vaccine impact (3) Quantify the burden of antimicrobial resistance and its potential on vaccine impact to reduce antimicrobial resistance. The centre also promotes national and regional networking and conduct training courses, workshops and seminars on vaccine preventable diseases in Africa. This is achieved through strong collaboration and capacity building with Ministries of Health in Africa.
The centre also provides expertise and technical assistance during meningitis outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa. Most notably, I led the WHO rapid support team for meningitis outbreak in Ghana (2016) and Nigeria (2017) where I supported the Ghanaian and Nigerian governments and public health officers to identify the causative outbreak agents.
Furthermore, my research applies molecular tools to understand the impact of air pollution on the nasopharyngeal microbiome and epidemic meningitis in Africa.