Parasite Immuno-epidemiology Group (P.I.G)

Prof Francisca Mutapi

Francisca Mutapi, Winner of the University of Edinburgh Chancellor’s Award for Impact (2017) and David Livingstone Medal, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (2016).

Professor Francisca Mutapi
Professor Francisca Mutapi

Head of Group, Professor (Global Health Infection and Immunity)

Deputy Director TIBA Partnership

TIBA Partnership

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.

Fellow, African Academy of Science

Fellow, Future Africa

External roles

2020: UK Department for International Development (DFID) Science Advisory Group

2020: World Health Organisation, MemberWHO Diagnostic Technical Advisory Group (DTAG) for neglected tropical diseases. Schistomiasias s Sub-group.

2019-ongoing: UK Department for International Development (DFID) Accelerating Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ASCEND) Steering Committee

2019-ongoing: Board Member –Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases.

2019-ongoing: Senior Adviser to the Principal (University of Edinburgh) on Africa

2019-ongoing:: UKRI GCRF Strategic Advisory Group

2018- ongoing:World Health Organisation Africa Region Director’s Independent Advisory Group

2018-ongoing: World Health Organisation Expert Advisory Group: Guidelines for implementation of control and elimination of schistosomiasis and verification of interruption of transmission

2018-ongoing:  Royal Society/African Academy of Science Future Leaders – African Independent Researchers (FLAIR) Fellowships steering committee.

2017-ongoing: Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) Steering Committee member. Grand Challenges Africa is a multi-million dollar funding body lead by the African Academy of Sciences and the New Partnership for Africa's Development funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. FM is one of  9 committee members responsible for:

2015-ongoing: Independent Strategic and Scientific Advisory Board of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA). AESA is a pan-African platform established in 2014 as a partnership between the African Academy of Science (AAS) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and supported by three global funders (Wellcome Trust, DIFID, Gates) to promote long-term development of research leadership, scientific excellence and innovation in Africa.

2015-2016: Chair -WHO committee on treatment of Schistosomiasis in preschool-age children and paediatric Praziquantel formulations WHO, Department of Control and Neglected Tropical Diseases.

2010-2012: WHO committee reviewing results from studies on the treatment of young children for schistosomiasis, WHO, Department of Control and Neglected Tropical Diseases.


I am a recipient of several prizes including 2016 David Livingstone Medal, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Interview with The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

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