UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences


UCL awarded NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Mucosal Pathogens  

13 July 2017

UCL is to receive £6.8 million over 4 years from the National Institute of Health Research to establish a Global Health Research Unit on Mucosal Pathogens (MPRU).

Strategically placed within UCL's Global Health Grand Challenges, the MPRU is a world leading interdisciplinary partnership bringing together UK and LMIC investigators and institutions to address the limitations in the long-term effectiveness of vaccines though new approaches to interrupting mucosal pathogen carriage & transmission, and so the development of pneumonia, meningitis & sepsis.

Mucosal pathogens cause pneumonia, meningitis & sepsis in young children. These diseases lead to over 2 million deaths & substantial disability annually, primarily lower & middle income countries (LMICs). Vaccines have led to substantial reductions in childhood deaths but more effective control of mucosal pathogens is crucial if we are to ensure that vaccines work long-term. Knowledge from richer countries often cannot be used to determine best approach in LMICs where HIV & malaria, malnutrition, adverse climate & environments are common.

Based at the UCL Division of Infection & Immunity, the MPRU has forged partnerships with the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool, Oxford & Southampton, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and BUGs Bioscience in the UK with research centres in Kenya, Malawi, Mali, South Africa and The Gambia. The research programme will improve disease intelligence; develop new measures of immunity; test novel Interventions including vaccines; respond to outbreaks; and engage in a two-way dialogue with the public & policymakers.

Professor Rob Heyderman, Director of the MPRU, said: "The award of a Global Health Research Unit will establish an internationally leading research partnership led by African & International Scientists, pursuing scientific excellence, training young scientists and improving the health of people in poorer countries through vaccination and other interventions"

An important focus of the MPRU's work will be the training of early career scientists in research - the people who will become future research leaders. The MPRU will host 4 PhD students from LMICs, and will undertake postdoctoral training workshops to enhance research capacity at partner institutions in Africa.