Prof Francisca Mutapi
Head of Group, Professor (Global Health Infection and Immunity)
My background is in schistosome immuno-epidemiology. I am interested in explaining the factors which give rise to the schistosome epidemiological patterns we observe in people resident in schistosome endemic areas. In particular I am interested in the role acquired immunity plays in shaping these patterns, and how we can manipulate the immune system to give greater protection against re-infection and for this protection to occur earlier in people exposed to infection. My research has shown that one way of achieving this is through treatment with praziquantel and my studies now focus on how this anti-helminthic treatment achieves this. The contributions of co-infections, the microbiome and co-morbidites on the health outcome in a schistosome infected host are not lost on me; as such, I also investigate the interactions between schistosome infection and co-infections (previous, current and future), the gut and urinary microbiome and immune disorders (allergy and autoimmunity) and how these interactions impact on overal health in exposed children.
Education and Short Biography
I obtained my BSc Hons degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe followed by my DPhil at the University of Oxford in 1997. My postdoctoral training at the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium was followed by a departmental lectureship post back at the Department of Zoology and St Hilda’s College in Oxford. This was followed by university lectureship positions at Birkbeck College and the University of Glasgow’s Veterinary School, and an MRC training fellowship at the University of Edinburgh in 2002. After the fellowship, I was awarded a 5-year, tenure-track research fellowship from the Research Councils of the UK (RCUK Fellowship) and established an independent research group. I was elected as one of the 60 founding members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy in 2012, a Fellow of the African Science Leadership Program in March 2015 and a Fellow of the African Academy of Science in November 2015.
I sit on several independent advisory bodies and funding commitees including the independent Strategic and Scientific Advisory Board of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, UK Department of Health, National Institutes for Health Research Global Health Research (NIHR-GCRF) Funding Panel (Chairperson, deputy chairperson and panel member on various funding streams), Grand Challenges Africa Steering Committee and Scottish Schistosomiasis National Advice, Investigation and Liaison Group.
I am a recipient of several prizes including 2016 David Livingstone Medal, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.