Dr Michael Marks
MRCP DTM&H PhD
I am an Associate Professor at LSHTM and an Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, University College London Hospital. I also hold an honorary position in the Division of Infection and Immunity at University College London.
Currently my research spans three main areas:
- Neglected tropical diseases
- Sexually transmitted infections
Neglected Tropical Diseases
Yaws: My Phd, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, focused on understanding the impact of azithromycin mass administration on treponemal infections as part of a strategy to eliminate yaws in the Solomon Islands including work on disease mapping and the evaluation of diagnostic tests. I was a lead investigator on a WHO sponsored trial of treatment of yaws in Ghana and Papua New Guinea and collaborate with Oriol Mitjà on studies to optimise community treatment strategies for yaws in PNG. I am the principal investigator on a new EDCTP evaluation of a LAMP assay for yaws (2020-2022) in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon and am collaborating on studies evaluating Linezolid as a new therapeutic agent for yaws.
Scabies: I am involved in a number of studies on the epidemiology and control of scabies, which is endemic in the Pacific region and has recently been adopted as an NTD by the World Health Organization. I collaborate with Andrew Steer, in Melbourne, and John Kaldor, in Sydney, on a number of studies to better understand the use of mass treatment strategies to control scabies in endemic communities. I sit on the technical advisory group for the World Scabies Program. My work on scabies has led on to a broader research interest in Group A Streptococcal (GAS) disease which is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. I collaborate with Thushan de Silva at the University of Sheffield and MRC Unit the Gambia on the epidemiology and control of GAS.
Integrated NTD control: As well as work on these specific NTDs I am interested in strategies for the integrated control of neglected tropical diseases. I was the lead investigator on several studies exploring the possibility of combining MDA programmes for multiple NTDs into a single intervention in Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea. Along with Rachel Pullan, Steve Walker and others I am a lead investigator on the NIHR funded SHARP project (2019-2023) on integrated control strategies for NTDs of the skin including buruli ulcer, yaws, cutaneous leishmaniasis and leprosy in Ghana and Ethiopia.
I am a member of the World Health Organization Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases Diagnostic Technical Advisory Group, am on the steering committee of the London Centre for NTD Research and am the current Chair of the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Syphilis: In collaboration with Professor Nick Thomson a major area of interest has been the application of next-generation sequencing approaches to better understand the epidemiology of syphilis. This has included conducting the largest multi-country whole genome sequencing study of syphilis to date. We have now expanded this work to include a focus on genital ulcer disease across Botswana, Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe funded by the Gates Foundation which will provide vital data on global genomic diversity of this important sexually transmitted pathogen. A further Gates grant is focused on identifying potential targets for syphilis vaccine development and makes use of the treponema-cell culture model established at the Sanger.
In many LMICs syphilis testing remains limited to the antenatal setting and key groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) are often unable to access testing. In order to improve outcomes for marginalised groups I work with Joe Tucker to evaluate innovative strategies, such as self-testing, to improve syphilis testing rates amongst high risk groups in China and Zimbabwe.
In collbaoration with Richard Gilson at UCL I am helping to setup UK sites for a study evaluating Linezolid as a new oral therpay for syphilis as part of a multi-centre study led by my long term collaborator Oriol Mitjà.
STI Diagnostics: With Rashida Ferrand and Katharina Kranzer I am currently supervising a Wellcome Trust funded PhD on integrating near-patient molecular diagnostics for STIs into antenatal care in Zimbabwe.
Sexual & Reproductive Health: I am a member of the I-SHARE consortium. I-SHARE examines the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on sexual and reproductive health across a diverse range of low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries.
I am a member of the steering committee of the STI Research Interest Group at LSHTM.
Post-COVID: I am a member of the national management committee of PHOSP, a large UK cohort study exploring long-term outcomes of patients who were hospitalised with COVID-19. Linked to this I am a co-investigator on a grant led by Andy Briggs evaluating health system pathways and the economic impact on patients hospitalised with COVID and on the OpenPROMPT study led by Roz Eggo on the economic impact on patients with COVID managed in the community.
COVID Transmission: I was the PI on an MRC/NIHR funded study which has taken a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding transmission of COVID in minority populations in the UK and how public health responses can best be contexualised to the needs of these groups. I was also the co-ordinator of an EDCTP funded project looking to strengthen surveillance of COVID-19 in Ghana.
I am a co-investigator on the SNAP trial, the worlds largest RCT on the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia. This multi-centre study is currently funded in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Israel and the United Kingdom. I am a member of the UK regional steering committee and the global early oral switch and adjunctive-therapies working groups.
Alongside my research work at LSHTM, I worked with Chrissy Roberts to establish and run the ODK@LSHTM service which supports the uptake of the ODK electronic data collection platform in research projects run by LSHTM worldwide. Our Emergency Data Kit project supported the role out of Ebola Vaccination in the DRC
Details of grants and work I have been involved in are also available on ORC-ID
I am the co-module director of the Neglected Tropical Diseases MSc module. I am on the course committee and teach on both the London Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) and the East African DTM&H (LSHTM). I also sit on the exam board of the Tropical Medicine and International Health MSc.
I currently supervise PhD and DrPH students working on
- The evaluation of new diagnostics for yaws
- Haemophilus ducreyi as a cause of cutaenous ulcers in Cameroon
- Transmission of Group A Streptococcus in the Gambia
- Near patient diagnostics for STIs in Zimbabwe
- Integrated MDA for Trachoma and Lymphatic Filariasis in Ethiopia
- Mother to child transmission of syphilis in the United States of America
Combining my NHS and LSHTM roles I am the co-lead for Integrated Academic Training at LSHTM and in this role support our cohort of NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows and Clinical Lecturers.
- Yaws: Epidemiology, community treatment strategies, diagnostics and modelling
- Syphilis & STIs: Sequencing, host-pathogen interactions, Innovative approaches to testing
- Scabies & Group A Streptococcus: Epidemiology, community treatment strategies
- NTDs: Integrated Case Finding & Mass Drug Administration Strategies
- COVID-19: Transmission & epidemiology, Post-COVID Recovery