London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Malaria Centre

DFID/MRC African Research Leader Award winner


09 March 2018
Alfred Tiono talks about his award, which is sponsored by LSHTM

This award is a joint initiative of MRC and DFID, which aims to strengthen research leadership across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by attracting and retaining exceptionally talented individuals to lead high quality programmes of research on key global health issues pertinent to SSA.

We interviewed Alfred Tiono, the DFID/MRC African Research Leader Award winner, to hear more about his research and what this award could mean for his work.


Could you please introduce yourself?

I am Alfred Tiono, an MD by training with a PhD in epidemiology. I work at the Centre National de Recherché et de Formation sur le Paludisme (CNRFP), one of the leading malaria research institutions in Burkina Faso.


Could you tell us what this award means to you?

This is a significant achievement in my career and I am truly grateful to Prof Chris Drakeley from London School who is my mentor in this award, as well as the other invaluable partners in this proposal who contributed to this success (Prof Mathias Marti from University of Glasgow, Dr Teun Bousema from Radboud University, Dr Tom Churcher and Patrick Walker from Imperial College, Dr Edith Sanogo from CNRFP).

I feel honoured to be part of such an ambitious programme, highly relevant to the African continent.


What type of research will you be doing in the framework of this award?

As you may know, there is currently a global effort to move forward the agenda for malaria elimination in endemic countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most malaria-affected areas in the world. To achieve elimination, we need a thorough understanding of who transmits malaria within a community. A lot of work has been done, but a group of individuals known to be at considerable risk for malaria – pregnant women – seem to have been largely overlooked as a potential reservoir of transmissible parasites. My proposed research programme aims to answer key questions about the malaria transmission potential of pregnant women that are highly relevant to malaria control and elimination strategies.

Firstly, we want to know to what extent pregnant women contribute to the transmission reservoir. Secondly, we will evaluate whether the frequent chronic infections that pregnant women can be exposed to, influence their capacity to act as a reservoir of transmission in markedly seasonal malaria transmission settings; and finally we will use the data generated in response to these two questions to simulate interventions that are targeted towards pregnant women in order to identify new strategies for malaria control.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank the LSHTM Director and his staff for supporting me in this award and the MRC/DFID for funding this work. This work will be important in not only generating comprehensive data on malaria transmission and pregnancy, ranging from basic biology to operational relevance, but also in building a highly competent team and establishing a strong research network to move forward the malaria control and elimination research agenda at national and regional levels. This is an excellent opportunity for me to grow as a scientific opinion leader and an African voice in the global war against malaria.