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UKRI Fellowships for LSHTM researchers to improve health care in sub-Saharan Africa

Three researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have received funding for new projects by becoming UKRI Future Leaders Fellows.
Adrianna Murphy, Amaya Bustinduy, Aoife Doyle

This prestigious recognition will be the catalyst for new research into implementation of treatments for hypertension and cardiovascular disease in Kenya, sexual and reproductive health screening in Zambia, and an adolescent health check-up strategy in Zimbabwe.

They are among 101 fellows based at UK universities and businesses who will be supported through an investment of £109 million. The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme is designed to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across the UK.

UKRI’s initiative aims to support the creation of a new cohort of research and innovation leaders who will have links across different sectors and disciplines. Awardees will each receive between £400,000 and £1.5 million over an initial four years. The grant supports challenging and novel projects, and the development of the Fellow’s career. The funding can also be used to support team members, their development, and pay for equipment and other needs.

Cardiovascular disease treatment in low-income countries

Dr Adrianna Murphy, Assistant Professor in Health Services Research and Policy at LSHTM, has been awarded £1.2 million to work on improving access to medicines in low-income countries. Dr Murphy will build a team of multi-disciplinary researchers, at LSHTM and in Kenya, dedicated to understanding health system factors that impact the implementation of drug treatments for hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

This four year-long project will begin in Kenya, working alongside KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, with the aim to design and evaluate interventions to improve the implementation of effective treatments.

Integrating neglected tropical disease into female screening in Zambia

Dr Amaya Bustinduy, Associate Professor in Tropical Paediatrics, will receive £1.6 million for a study which aims to empower women across sub-Saharan Africa to self-sample for schistosomiasis, HPV, HIV and other genital infections.

The four-year ‘BILHIV in YourSelf’ study will take place in Zambia. The research team aim to introduce an innovative, cost-effective and scalable self-sampling and testing package to detect multiple reproductive tract infections. Their aim is to have schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease which affects millions of women across sub-Saharan Africa, integrated into the diagnosis and access to care of better-known reproductive tract infections for the very first time.

Health check-up strategy to screen adolescents for multiple conditions in Zimbabwe

Dr Aoife Doyle, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at LSHTM, has been awarded £1.2 million funding to lead the design, implementation and evaluation of a novel adolescent health check-up strategy in Zimbabwe. This will integrate evidence-based interventions and digital innovations in a single health service platform to screen for multiple conditions and risk behaviours, and provide access to promotive, preventive and curative health care.

The research team hope that rigorous evaluation of this strategy will provide evidence to inform policies that address this gap in adolescent health care. Young people will be engaged in the design to ensure it is appropriately marketed and positioned.

Announcing the successful fellows at today’s Future Leaders Conference, Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “We are committed to building back better through research and innovation, and supporting our science superstars in every corner of the UK.

“By backing these inspirational Future Leaders Fellows, we will ensure that their brilliant ideas can be transferred straight from the lab into vital everyday products and services that will help to change all our lives for the better.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with freedom and support to drive forward transformative new ideas and the opportunity to learn from peers right across the country.

"The fellows announced today illustrate how the UK continues to support and attract talented researchers and innovators across every discipline to our universities and businesses, with the potential to deliver change that can be felt across society and the economy."

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