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Deadly epidemics 'brewed in an African pot': from genomic science to saving lives

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The African meningitis belt is a ‘hot spot’ of frequent bacterial meningitis epidemics causing mortalities and creating havoc in the country’s health system. In this inaugural lecture, Professor Martin Antonio will discuss how he uses a state-of-the-art multidisciplinary approach from basic science (microbiology, molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics and vaccinology) to public engagement to tackle bacterial meningitis epidemics in close partnership with global and regional bodies, including World Health Organization, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Ministry of Health, universities, Institute of Pasteur and the West African Health Organization.

Speaker

Martin Antonio

Martin Antonio is Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Global Health, and Co-Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Centre for Epidemic Preparedness and Response. He is affiliated with the Department of Infection Biology, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, LSHTM. Martin is based at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at LSHTM (MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM) where he is MRC Investigator. He was the founding Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for New Vaccines Surveillance and now directs the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for invasive bacterial diseases. Martin is a member of the Senior Strategic Leadership Board and Chairs the Unit’s West Africa Strategy and partnership. Additionally, he serves on numerous LSHTM and International Scientific Advisory Boards as Chair or member in Africa, Europe, the UK and the USA.

Martin obtained his BSc (Biochemistry) from the University of Glasgow (1991), MSc (Applied Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases) from LSHTM in 1993. He then moved across the road to Bart’s Medical College, the University of London (now Queen Mary and Westfield College) where he obtained his PhD (Molecular Microbiology) in 1997.

Martin is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences and Royal College of Pathologist (UK), Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Honorary Professor at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick.

Martin’s research is focused on the leverage of innovative molecular technologies in the diagnosis of tropical diseases (tuberculosis, meningitis, pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases), investigation of meningitis outbreaks and transmission, antimicrobial resistance, and clinical trials. Furthermore, his research applies molecular tools to understand the impact of air pollution on the nasopharyngeal microbiome and epidemic meningitis in Africa. He has published over 200 research peer-reviewed articles with a research publication H-Index of 56 with over 15060 citations.

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