The research portfolio of the Unit spans basic scientific research (immunology, microbiology, virology and molecular biology), clinical studies, large epidemiological studies and intervention trials. The field and laboratory-based work draws on excellent research and clinical facilities and attracts international funding.
The Unit has an established staff complement of about 200 scientists, clinicians and senior administrative staff from many parts of the world, as well as hosting many visiting researchers, and over 500 support staff. There are field sites upcountry – Basse, Keneba and Walikunda (in The Gambia) and Caio (in Guinea Bissau) – each in a different ecological setting, providing varied research opportunities.
The staff at the MRC Laboratory currently run eight programmes of research relevant to the health of developing societies. These span HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, reproductive health, viral diseases, respiratory infections and non-communicable diseases. In addition, the laboratory co-ordinates a number of clinical trials, behavioural intervention programmes and maintains important cohorts.
Set up in 1947, the unit is the UK’s single largest investment in tropical medicine research in a developing country and is one of the world’s major centres for research into infectious diseases. Working towards the United Nation (UN)’s Millennium Development Goals, the unit is helping to reduce the burden of death and disease worldwide.
Since 2003, research at the MRC Laboratories has had three main focuses: bacterial diseases (mainly TB and acute respiratory infections), viral diseases and malaria. These diseases know no bounds. In 2006 the UN estimated that HIV had infected 65 million people since it was discovered in the 1980s, while malaria claims the lives of two million people every year, mostly under school age. The rate of TB is increasing with the emergence of HIV and as strains become increasingly drug resistance. It affects not only the developing world; rates are climbing in the UK and other developed countries. “Developing drugs, vaccines and other ways to tackle these diseases that are practical, affordable and appropriate to the settings is an important priority,” said Tumani.
For more information on the research undertaken at MRC click here
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