Prof Sir Ali Zumla

Prof Sir Ali Zumla

Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health

Div of Infection & Immunity

Faculty of Medical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1994

Research summary

Sir Zumla’s research focuses on killer infectious diseases affecting adults and children globally. His networks span 67 partners in 34 countries across all continents.

1). RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS: Tuberculosis (TB), TB-HIV/AIDS co-infections, MERS, COVID-19, Community & Hospital acquired pneumonia, Transmission of RTIs including AMR at mass gathering religious and sporting events. A novel 'Mass Gatherings Medicine' initiative with several basic science, translational clinical and operational studies on infections with epidemic potential.

2). EMERGING AND RE-EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES with epidemic potential which threaten global health security: i).Multi-drug resistant TB. ii).Zoonotic infections(MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, COVID-19, EBOLA, Chikungunya, Monkeypox, Lassa Fever, Dengue iii(http://www.unza-uclms.org/pandora-id-net)

a).CLINICAL TRIALS FOR EVALUATION NEW DIAGNOSTICS, DRUGS AND HOST-DIRECTED THERAPIES: Sir Zumla leads several international, multi-country collaborative networks between academics, health care workers, healthcare providers, and policy makers for the conduct of multi-centre GLP/GCP clinical trials.

b).EPIDEMIOLOGICAL, PATHOGENESIS, TRANSLATIONAL CLINICAL & AUTOPSY STUDIES: Sentinel cross-continental epidemiological and clinical studies defined the importance of TB, and showed the emergence of extensively drug resistant TB in Eastern Europe and Southern Africa. Pioneering community and hospital based autopsy studies of children and adults are defining pathogenesis of killer respiratory tract infections including TB, SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19.

c).RESEARCH INTO THE EPIDEMIOLOGY, DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF KILLER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS INCLUDING MDR-TB, MERS-COV AND SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19): Laboratory and translational clinical research on longitudinal cohorts of patients is leading to development and evaluation of rapid diagnostics (urine, sputum and blood based) and biomarkers for diagnosis, response to treatment, cure and relapse. Novel biomarkers of cytokine ratios, urine and filter paper based TB diagnostics tests have been developed. Evaluation of new and novel rapid TB diagnostic technologies in inpatient settings in paediatric and adult wards. Novel autopsy studies show a huge clinical load of undiagnosed sub-clinical TB  and co-morbidities undiagnosed antemortem. Coordinated 'first from Africa and Europe' whole body autopsy studies of COVID-19 community and hospital deaths.

Teaching summary

1. CHAMPIONING GLOBAL HEALTH TEACHING & CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: Pioneered, championed and made visible 'Global Health' at UCL since 1994 as Director of the UCL Centre for Infectious Diseases & International Health. In 1998 Sir Zumla teamed up with Prof John Yudkin (Whittington UCL campus) to form the UCL International Health&Medical Education Centre (IHMEC) which introduced Special Study modules (SSMs) and the intercalated BSC in Global Health, and launched the Annual UCL ‘Lancet’ Global Health Lectures. In 2006, the Institute of Child Health was incorporated by UCL, it merged with IHMEC to form UCL Institute of Global Health (subsequent Directors were Prof.A.Costello,2006-2014; Prof.I.Abubakar 2014-2021).    

2. UNDERGRADUATE, DOCTORAL AND POSTDOCTORAL SUPERVISION AT UK AND OVERSEAS INSTITUTIONS eg:Institute of Child Health, London; University of Zambia School of Medicine; Lusaka; University of Amsterdam; Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), University of Tor Vergata (Rome), King AbdulAziz Univ (Jeddah), Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine (2000-2007); PANDORA-ID-NET ONE-HEALTH Consortium; Europe-Africa capacity development, training and research consortia:  CANTAM, EACCR, HERPEZ, Univ Tor Vergata summer school.

3. EXTERNAL EXAMINER for MSc, MMed, DTM&H, MD and PhD at several national & international universities.     

4. BOOKS: Editor of 22 textbooks including the global classics: a).Granulomatous Disorders; b). Return of the White Plague; c). Manson's Tropical Diseases, 21st and 22nd editions; d).Tuberculosis- a comprehensive Clinical Reference; e)Perspectives in Medicine-TUBERCULOSIS; f). Granulomatous Disorders;  f).Refugee Health; & Several editions of MRCP Part 1 and part 2 exam books. 

5. TEACHING THROUGH HIGH PROFILE JOURNAL THEME SERIES AND STATE OF THE ART REVIEWS: 1). Lead 'guru' Lancet journals TB Theme series (2006,2010, 2012); 2). Chief Guest Editor Journal of Infectious Diseases volume on TB, TB/HIV/AIDS-unanswered questions(2013); 3). Guest editor, Lancet Infectious Diseases TB Series (2014, 2016, 2018, 2019); 4). Guest Editor, Lancet Resp Med Series (2014); 5). Lancet Mass Gatherings Medicine Series (2014); 6).Lancet ID Series on Emerging RTIs (2014, 2016);7) IJID TB series(2017-2021); 8) Editor, Annual Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine Infection Series (2000-2021); 9) Editor, ID Clinics of North America (2008,2012,2013,2019). (full list  on website: (http://www.unza-uclms.org/tb-theme-series).


Karolinska Institute
Doctorate, Doctor of Medicine | 2016
Royal College of Pathologists, UK
Doctorate, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists | 2009
Royal College of Physicians
Doctorate, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians | 1994
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1987
Royal College of Physicians
Doctorate, Member of the Royal College of Physicians | 1984
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1981
University of Zambia
Doctorate, Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery | 1979
University of Zambia
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1976


Professor Sir Alimuddin (Ali) Zumla is dually qualified in Medicine(MBChB) and Science(PhD). He is accredited in Internal Medicine, Clinical immunology and Infectious Diseases. He is a Fellow of The:1).World Academy of Sciences, 2).Royal Colleges of Physicians of London & Edinburgh; 2).Royal College of Pathologists; 3).Royal Society of Biology & 4).African Academy of Sciences.  As a BEIT Scholar he obtained an MSc in Tropical Medicine(Distinction & Mugratroyd prize) and PhD(Alan Woodruff Medal) from The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He received international acclaim for rapidly identifying & notifying the 1988 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak which he traced back to Broadcasting House, London whilst working as an infectious diseases registrar at Rush Green Hospital, Romford. After 4 years as senior registrar at the Hammersmith Hospital(RPMS) London, he spent 3 years as Associate Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Centre, Houston, USA, & Visiting Professor at UTH in Lusaka, before joining UCL in 1994. Since then, Sir Ali pioneered and championed the discipline of ‘Global Health’ at UCL with significant global impact, effectively networking numerous institutions across the world, achieving ‘unity of purpose’ for tackling poverty-related diseases. He is a lead global advocate for 'Equitable and Fair North-South partnerships where close alignment of capacity development with research is central to his ethos. Over 30 years Sir Ali established many cross-continental R&D partnerships, which received several awards:eg.The Times Higher Education Award for the ‘Best international Collaboration’(2013); EDCTP ‘Most outstanding ‘Africa-Europe’Team Award'(Nov.2016);   

PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS (Selected List from 26 accolades): Order of The Grand Commander of Distinguished Services (GCDS)-First Division, from the President of Zambia(2012); STOP-TB Partnership-WHO Kochon Prize & Medal(2012); Royal Society of TM&H Donald Mackay Medal (2014); UCLHospitals NHS-Trust Excellence Award for World Class Research (2015); Karolinska Institutet 'Doctorate honoris causa' for"exceptional contributions to science, healthcare & humanity at large"(2016); Knighthood from Her Majesty the Queen (June,2017); The Union Medal (2018)-highest honour accorded by the IUTBLD; Mahathir Science Award(2020)-the most prestigious global award for Tropical Sciences; EU-EDCTP Pascoal Mocumbi Award(2021).

PUBLICATIONS: a).710 peer-reviewed PUBMED articles (Google Scholar, H-index=120; i10index= 609;Citations=65,370; Clarivate 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 lists of the world's most highly cited authors, b).22 medical textbooks, including the classics: Manson’s Tropical Diseases (co-ed.G.C.Cook); Granulomatous Disorders(co-ed.D.James);Tuberculosis-A Comprehensive Clinical Reference (co-ed.S.Schaaf); Perspectives in Medicine-TB (co-eds: S.Kaufmann & E.Rubin), Handbook of Refugee Health (co-ed I.Abubakar et al); c).Over 35 journal themes series (http://www.unza-uclms.org/tb-theme-series).