Sarah Burr


Assistant Professor

Department of Microbiology

College of Medicine
University of Malawi

+44 (0)20 7927 8200

I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BSc in Microbiology in 1996. After two years working in a diagnostic microbiology lab, I enrolled in a Master's programme at the University of Victoria where I studied type II protein secretion in gram negative bacteria. After finishing my MSc in 2001, I relocated to Switzerland where I began work on a PhD at the Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology, Universitaet Bern. My PhD project involved the characterization of the type III secretion system in Aeromonas salmonicida. I completed my thesis in 2004 and remained at the Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology as a post-doctoral fellow studying virulence factors of Aeromonas species until 2009 when I joined Professor Mabey's group at the LSHTM.

From 2009 until the end of 2014, I was based at the Medial Research Council (MRC) Unit, The Gambia and from 2010 led trachoma research based at MRC. In January 2015, I relocated to Malawi where I am now based.


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Clinical Research


I am a tutor on the distance learning course ID 201, Bacterial Infections. I also teach medical and pharmacy students at the College of Medicine, Univeristy of Malawi.


I am currently based at the College of Medicine, University of Malawi, where I am an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Microbiology Department.

I am the laboratory scientist for the MORDOR trial (Mortality reduction after oral azithromycin), which is evaluating the effect of mass drug administration with the broad-spectrum antibiotic azithromycin on childhood mortality and morbidity in three sites in sub-Saharan Africa. LSHTM is involved in the MORDOR trial in Malawi, where we are evaluating azithromycin's effect on under-5 mortality, trachoma, malaria, carriage of respiratory and diarrheal pathogens, macrolide resistance, intestinal inflammation, the gastrointestinal microbiome and growth.

The MORDOR trial is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is a collaborative project between LHSTM, UCSF and JHP. In Malawi, the MORDOR trial works in partnership with the College of Medicine, Blantyre Institute of Community Outreach (BICO) and the Ministry of Health.

I am also involved in trachoma control and surveillance activites in Malalwi, most recently evaluating the utility of serology assays as tools within surveillance programmes.

In 2016, I participated in LSHTM's small grants scheme in public engagement with a project Madzi ndi moyo! (Water is Life!). This engaged school children in Malawi to use scientific methods to assess water quality in their local environment and to disseminate their findings.

Research Area
Clinical trials
Drug resistance
Disease control
Molecular epidemiology
Molecular biology
Disease and Health Conditions
Diarrhoeal diseases
Infectious disease
Respiratory disease
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Short-term increase in prevalence of nasopharyngeal carriage of macrolide-resistant Staphylococcus aureus following mass drug administration with azithromycin for trachoma control.
Bojang, E. ; Jafali, J. ; Perreten, V. ; Hart, J. ; Harding-Esch, E.M. ; Sillah, A. ; Mabey, D.C. ; Holland, M.J. ; Bailey, R.L. ; Roca, A. ; Burr, S.E. ;
BMC Microbiol
Population-based prevalence survey of follicular trachoma and trachomatous trichiasis in the Casamance region of Senegal.
Harding-Esch, E.M. ; Kadimpeul, J. ; Sarr, B. ; Sane, A. ; Badji, S. ; Laye, M. ; Sillah, A. ; Burr, S.E. ; MacLeod, D. ; Last, A.R. ; Holland, M.J. ; Mabey, D.C. ; Bailey, R.L. ;
BMC Public Health
Genome-wide profiling of humoral immunity and pathogen genes under selection identifies immune evasion tactics of Chlamydia trachomatis during ocular infection.
Pickering, H. ; Teng, A. ; Faal, N. ; Joof, H. ; Makalo, P. ; Cassama, E. ; Nabicassa, M. ; Last, A.R. ; Burr, S.E. ; Rowland-Jones, S.L. ; Thomson, N.R. ; Roberts, C.H. ; Mabey, D.C.W. ; Bailey, R.L. ; Hayward, R.D. ; de la Maza, L.M. ; Holland, M.J. ;
Sci Rep
Serology reflects a decline in the prevalence of trachoma in two regions of The Gambia.
Migchelsen, S.J. ; Sepúlveda, N. ; Martin, D.L. ; Cooley, G. ; Gwyn, S. ; Pickering, H. ; Joof, H. ; Makalo, P. ; Bailey, R. ; Burr, S.E. ; Mabey, D.C.W. ; Solomon, A.W. ; Roberts, C.H. ;
Sci Rep
An outbreak of acute haemorrhagic conjunctivitis associated with coxsackievirus A24 variant in The Gambia, West Africa.
Burr, S.E. ; Sillah, A. ; Joof, H. ; Bailey, R.L. ; Holland, M.J. ;
BMC Res Notes
Does azithromycin given to women in labour decrease ocular bacterial infection in neonates? A double-blind, randomized trial.
Burr, S.E. ; Camara, B. ; Oluwalana, C. ; Bojang, E. ; Bottomley, C. ; Bojang, A. ; Bailey, R.L. ; D'Alessandro, U. ; Roca, A. ;
BMC Infect Dis
The impact of a single round of community mass treatment with azithromycin on disease severity and ocular Chlamydia trachomatis load in treatment-naïve trachoma-endemic island communities in West Africa.
Last, A.R. ; Burr, S.E. ; Harding-Esch, E. ; Cassama, E. ; Nabicassa, M. ; Roberts, C.H. ; Mabey, D.C.W. ; Holland, M.J. ; Bailey, R.L. ;
Parasit Vectors
Cross-Sectional Surveys of the Prevalence of Follicular Trachoma and Trichiasis in The Gambia: Has Elimination Been Reached?
Burr, S.E. ; Sillah, A. ; Sanou, A.S. ; Wadagni, A.C. ; Hart, J. ; Harding-Esch, E.M. ; Kanyi, S. ; Bailey, R.L. ;
PLoS Negl Trop Dis
See all Sarah Burr's Publications