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 in Global Health Infection and Immunity, Deputy Co-Director TIBA

Background

February 2019-currently: Senior Advisor to the Principal on Africa

March 2018-currently: Co-Director, Global Health Academy (University of Edinburgh)

July 2017-currently: Deputy Director TIBA Partnership (Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa) NIHR Unit at the University of Edinburgh.

August 2017-currently: Professor (Global Health Infection and Immunity), School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

2014-July 2017: Reader, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

2011-2014: Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

2005-2011: Research Fellow in Infection and Immunity, University of Edinburgh.

2002-2005: MRC Research Training Fellow in Molecular Parasitology, University of Edinburgh.

2001-2002: University Lecturer in Comparative Epidemiology, Department of Clinical Veterinary Studies, University of Glasgow. 

2001: University Lecturer in Microbiology, Birkbeck College, University of London.

1999-2000: Departmental Lecturer in Molecular Parasitology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.

1999-2000: Retained College Lecture in Infectious Diseases, Pembroke College, University of Oxford.

1998- 2000: College Lecturer in Statistics and Experimental Design in Biology and Psychology, St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford.

1997-1999: Postdoctoral Fellow, Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.

Qualifications

 DPhil, Biological Sciences, Linacre College, University of Oxford.

BSc  Hons, Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe.

Responsibilities & affiliations

Membership of Learned Socities

Elected Fellow, Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)

Elected Fellow, Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences (FZAS)

Elected Fellow, African Academy of Sciences (FAAS)

Elected Fellow, Africa Science Leadership Program and Future Africa Fellow (run by the Global Young Academy and the Robert Bosch Foundation)

2015: Elected Fellow, African Science Institute.

Honorary Academic appointments

2017-currently: Honorary Professor, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

2016-currently: Visiting Research Fellow, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.

Undergraduate teaching

Parasite Biology

Animal Biology

Medical and Veterinary Epidemiology

Research summary

http://pig.bio.ed.ac.uk

My group conducts basic scientific research to inform the policy, practice and control of Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). Currently we are conducting fundamental research on the host immunology and epidemiology, parasite molecular biology and drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics in people exposed to the second most important parasitic disease in Africa, schistosomiasis.  Through this work, we have contributed to shaping national and global NTD policies by working closely with  stakeholders including the World Health Organisation and local governments in affected countries, impacting millions of lives.

Our translational and fundamental research is contextual, ensuring we do not study schistosomiasis in isolation but rather within a host, a community and a health system. Thus, our host studies investigate the biology of schistosome parasites within a host ecosystem taking into account host factors including co-infections, comorbidities and microbiota.  We investigate dynamics of infection and disease within this ecosystem as well as the impact of antihelminthic treatment. Our diagnostic and intervention innovation studies focus on the health system set-up where the diagnostic and intervention tools are to be implemented as well as the community response to them

My group’s fieldwork is conducted in Zimbabwe though a long-running collaborative research programme, the “Understanding Bilharzia” Programme which involves two local institutions in Zimbabwe, the National Institutes of Health Research and the University of Zimbabwe. The objective of the work is to inform schistosome control policy in terms of types of control strategies (chemotherapy and vaccination), diagnosis of infection and morbidity and evaluation of control programs.

Our studies are relevant to host-parasite biology, parasite immunology, helminth population biology, control and public health and have recently contributed to the revision of the World Health Organisation's guidelines on the treatment of paediatric schistosomiasis as well as the formulation and implementation of a national schistosomiasis control programme in Zimbabwe.  

Knowledge exchange

My group's work haas contributed signficantly to global  policy, practice and control of Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD).

Most notably, my group's work has led to the World Health Organization (WHO) revising the pediatric schistosome treatment policy. Prior to our studies, children below  5 years old were excluded from schistosome treatment with the drug of choice, praziquantel (PZQ). My group’s immunology, epidemiology and field studies challenged this health inequity, providing PZQ safety and efficacy data, on which basis, the WHO revised the pediatric schistosomiasis treatment policy, making ~50 million more African children eligible for schistosome treatment.

 

Affiliated research centres

View all 73 publications on Research Explorer

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

2020: World Health Organisation, Member, WHO 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.

2018-ongoing: Chair, UK Department of Health, National Institutes for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Funding Panel- call 2 (Groups).

2018-ongoing: UK Department of Health, NIHR Research Professorships panel.

2017 –ongoing: Deputy Chair, UK Department of Health NIHR –GCRF Funding Panel- Units and Groups 

2015-2017: Wellcome Trust Seeds Award Funding Committee.

2016: Wellcome Trust Population and Public Health Expert Review Group, co-opted member.