Researchers' Database

Researchers from across the University of Cambridge and its affiliated institutes are engaging with the initiatives of the Cambridge-Africa Programme by carrying out collaborative research with African colleagues, and/or mentoring African fellows.

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Dr Annettee Nakimuli, Makerere University and MUII PhD Fellow, and her Cambridge co-supervisor Professor Ashley Moffett, Department of Pathology.




In order to recruit excellent post-doctoral researchers and doctoral students from Africa into Cambridge for training, we have built (and are continuously expanding) a database of current and potential Cambridge collaborators/mentors and their expertise. The >180 Cambridge researchers listed are either already engaging with, or have indicated their interest in being matched to Africans who have similar research interests. Cambridge researchers who would like to get involved do not need to have a pre-prepared project available, or existing African links, in order to be included in the database. If you would like your details to be included, please complete the (short and painless) registration form.

Note to African researchers searching for a Cambridge collaborator: Please be aware that any enquiries about potential collaboration with a Cambridge researcher need to be directed to one of the Cambridge-Africa Programme staff  or in the first instance. They will then put you in touch with the Cambridge researcher if there is an appropriate match in the research interests. Thanks for your cooperation.


Dr Chantal Babb de Villiers (Cancer research) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Research Associate, PHPC PCU

Research Interests:

I worked for almost 10 years in South Africa on cancer genetic diagnostics and cancer epidemiology in Africa. I have an interest in mainstreaming genetic testing for cancer and am currently working on cancer risk prediction tools for implementation in clinical care. These tools will use lifestyle, epidemiological and genetic information for cancer risk prediction.

Singh E, Ruff P, Babb C, Sengayi M, Beery M, Khoali L, Kellett P, Underwood JM. Establishment of a cancer surveillance programme: the South African experience. Lancet Oncology Volume 16, No. 8, e414–e421, August 2015. DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00162-X

Babb C, Urban M, Kielkowski D, and Kellett P. Prostate Cancer in South Africa: Pathology Based National Cancer Registry Data (1986–2006) and Mortality Rates (1997–2009), Prostate Cancer, Volume 2014 May (2014), Article ID 419801 DOI: 10.1155/2014/419801

Baker GL, Babb C, Schnugh DJ, Naylor SJ, Louw M, Goedhals J, Bringuier P, Blay J, Willem P. Molecular characterization of gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) in a South African population. Oncology Letters 2013 Jan;5(1):155-160 DOI: 10.3892/ol.2012.1013

Prof Simon Baron-Cohen (Cognitive Neuroscience) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Director, Autism Research Centre, Dept of Psychiatry

Research Interests:

Cognitive neuroscience and clinical research on autism and Asperger Syndrome

Dr Tom Bashford (Anaesthesia and Critical Care) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Academic Clinical Fellow / SpR in Anaesthesia Honorary Clinical Research Fellow; Division of Anaesthesia, University of Cambridge; Department of Anaesthetics, , Addenbrooke’s Hospital; Department of A

Research Interests:

Anaesthesia and critical care in low-resource settings.

Existing African associations: Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) volunteer to Ethiopia 2011-2012

ABSTRACTS: 2012 Bashford T. Improving anaesthetic safety in an Ethiopian Specialised Hospital: a pathway approach. Abstracts of the AAGBI National Conference 19-21 September 2012, Bournemouth, UK. p27.


2012 ‘Into Thin Air’ BMJ Blog in support of Lifebox BMJ Christmas Appeal 2012;

2012 ‘Road to Safer Surgery’, Yekatit 12 Hospital, Addis Ababa. Produced in association with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ethiopia

2013 Bashford T. Quality Improvement in Low Resource Settings: An Ethiopian Experience. British Journal of Hospital Medicine 2013 May 79(5) p.286-288.

2013 Bashford T. Saving Lives in Ethiopia. New Doctor. 2013 Jan 6(1) p13.

2012 Bashford T. A Year Volunteering in Addis Ababa. Anaesthesia News. 2012 Nov 304 p6-8.

Dr Sara Benjamin Neelon (Evaluation of school-based intervention promoting fruit and vegetable intake via gardens) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University and Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow, Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge

Research Interests:

Assessment of health in school-age children (anthropometry, dietary intake, physical activity) Evaluation of school-based intervention promoting fruit and vegetable intake via gardens Assessment of home gardening and children's exposure to fruits and vegetables

Prof Stephen Bentley (Analysis Of Whole Genome Sequence Data For Bacterial Pathogens) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Principal Staff Scientist, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Research Interests:

My expertise is in the analysis of whole genome sequence data for bacterial pathogens. My research interests are mainly focused on respiratory pathogens such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis as well Staphylococcus aureus with the aim of better understanding population dynamics, association with disease and responses to clinical practices.

Possible project topic: projects to exploit whole genome sequencing of large collections of pathogen isolates to understand the population structure and colonisation dynamics of respiratory pathogens in different environmental settings. I would also be interested in looking at nasopharyngeal (or nasal) microbiota in a range of demographically distinct groups.

Current African links: I have active collaborative links with groups in Blantyre, Malawi (Dean Everett, MLW), The Gambia (Martin Antonio, MRC) and Thailand (Paul Turner, SMRU).

(1) Evolution of MRSA during hospital transmission and intercontinental spread. Harris SR et al. Science. 2010 Jan 22; 327 (5964): 469-74.

(2) Role of conjugative elements in the evolution of the multidrug-resistant pandemic clone Streptococcus pneumoniaeSpain23F ST81. Croucher NJ et al. J Bacteriol. 2009 Mar;191 (5): 1480-9.

(3) Genetic analysis of the capsular biosynthetic locus from all 90 pneumococcal serotypes. Bentley SD et al. PLoS Genet. 2006 Mar; 2 (3): e31.

Dr Jimena Berni (Developmental Neuroscience) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Research Fellow, Department of Zoology

Research Interests:

My research is focused in the general area of developmental neuroscience.
I investigate the relation between neuronal circuits and behaviour with an emphasis on the diversification of circuits and the role of genes in specifying different neuronal networks and their assembly during development. I work with the fruit fly Drosophila and I combine a range of genetic, neurobiological and anatomical techniques to attack this problem at several levels - from genes and neurons to circuits and behavior.

J Gjorgjieva, J Berni, JF Evers, S Eglen (2013). Neural Circuits for Peristaltic Wave Propagation in Crawling Drosophila Larvae: Analysis and Modeling. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 7(art.4):1-19

Berni J, Pulver SR, Griffith LC and Bate M. (2012). Autonomous circuit for substrate exploration in freely moving Drosophila larva. Current Biology, 22:1861-1870

Depetris-Chauvin A*, Berni J, Aranovich EJ*, Muraro NI, Beckwith EJ, Ceriani MF. (2011). Adult-specific electrical silencing of pacemaker neurons uncouples molecular clock from circadian outputs. Current Biology, 21(21):1783-93

Dr Matthew Berriman (Parasite & Vector Genomics ) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Group Leader, Parasite Genomics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Research Interests:

Comparative and functional genomics of parasites to study the genomic basis for similarities (such as regulatory features) or differences in parasite biology (such as host tropism).

Current African links: Member of the WHO/TDR International Glossina Genomics Initiative, which includes several African partners.

(1) Berriman M et al. (2009). The genome of the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni. Nature 460 (7253): 352-8.PMID: 19606141.

(2) Hertz-Fowler et al. (2008). Telomeric expression sites are highly conserved in Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS One.3(10): e3527. Epub 2008 Oct 27 PMID: 18953401.

(3) Berriman M et al. (2005). The genome of the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei. Science 309 (5733): 416-22. PMID: 16020726

Dr Oliver Billker (Malaria Cell & Molecular Biology) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Senior Group Leader, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Research Interests:

The team investigates the fundamental biology of malaria parasite development and parasite-host interactions. We use a malaria species that infects rodents, Plasmodium berghei. We are particularly interested in molecular signalling mechanisms that regulate the parasite life-cycle. We are also collaborating with programmes in mouse, human and Plasmodium genetics at the institute to define molecular functions for host genes in regulating infection and pathology.

(1) Billker O et al. (2009) Calcium-Dependent Signaling and Kinases in Apicomplexan Parasites. Cell Host & Microbe, June 2009.

(2) Moon RW et al. (2009). A cyclic GMP signalling module that regulates gliding motility in a malaria parasite. PLoS Pathogens 5(9).

(3) Billker O et al. (2004). Calcium and a Calcium Dependent Protein Kinase Regulate Gamete Formation and Mosquito Transmission in a Malaria Parasite. Cell 117: 503-514.

Dr Barbara Blacklaws (Immunopathology Of Chronic Infections) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer, Dept of Veterinary Medicine

Research Interests:

Immunopathology of persistent infections, particularly viral and bacterial infections. I work in the veterinary field and use visna/maedi virus, the sheep lentivirus, as well as Salmonella as persistent infections whose host cells are both involved in the immune system. This allows me to study the immune response to the infectious agent as well as the effect of the pathogen on different cells involved in that response.

Possible project topic: Are Cytotoxic T cells protective against visna/maedi virus.

(1) Niesalla H et al. (2008) Systemic DNA immunization against ovine lentivirus using particle-mediated epidermal delivery and modified vaccinia Ankara encoding the gag and/or env genes. Vaccine 27, 260-269.

(2) Wu C et al. (2008) Mapping and Characterization of Visna Maedi Virus Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Epitopes. J. Gen. Virol. 89, 2586-2596.

(3) Chan SS et al. (2008) Salmonella infection of afferent lymph dendritic cells. J. Leukoc. Biol. 83, 272-279.

Prof Carol Brayne (Ageing & Health) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Professor of Public Health Medicine, Dept of Public Health and Primary Care, and Director of the Institute of Public Health

Research Interests:

Ageing and health, dementia, mental health, healthy life expectancy.

Current African links: Thirty two African MPhil students who have completed their degrees in the Institute over the years. Personal link with Tanzania.

(1) Ngondi J et al. *Effect of 3 years of SAFE (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental change) strategy for trachoma control in southern Sudan: a cross-sectional study. The Lancet 2006, vol 368, 589-95. (*accompanying editorial).

(2) Brayne C. Incidence of Dementia in England and Wales. MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 2006, 20 Supl2 S47-51.

(3) Jagger C et al. The burden of diseases on disability-free life expectancy in later life. Journal of Geronotology A Biol Sci Med Sci 2007, 62(4), 408-14.

Prof Kevin Brindle (Imaging Tumour Responses To Treatment) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Professor of Biomedical Magnetic Resonance, Dept of Biochemistry, and Senior Group Leader, CRUK Cambridge Research Institute

Research Interests:

Patients with similar tumour types can show markedly different responses to the same therapy. We have been developing novel, clinically applicable, imaging methods that can be used to detect early tumour responses to treatment. These could be used in early stage clinical trials of new drugs to get an indication of efficacy and subsequently, in the clinic, to guide therapy in individual patients.

(1) Brindle K. New approaches for imaging tumour responses to treatment. Nature Rev Cancer 2008; 8: 1-14.

(2) Gallagher FA et al. Magnetic resonance imaging of pH in vivo using hyperpolarized 13C-labeled bicarbonate. Nature 2008; 453: 940-3.

(3) Day SE et al. Detecting tumor response to treatment using hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy. Nature Med 2007; 13: 1382-7.

Prof Clare Bryant (Immunopharmacology Of Infectious Diseases) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Professor, Dept of Veterinary Medicine

Research Interests:

My research group works primarily on how the activity of Pattern Recognition Receptors (PRRs) contributes to infectious disease and whether pharmacological manipulation of these receptors may be useful therapeutically. We study how ligands interact with Toll-like Receptor 4, whether PRRs are important for generating an adaptive immune response to Salmonella infection and we use mathematical and physical techniques to study the cell biology of infection.

(1) Walsh CM et al. (2008) Elucidation of the MD-2/TLR4 interface required for signalling by Lipid IVa. J. Immunol. 181, 1245-54.

(2) Talbot S et al. (2009) Toll-like receptor 4 signalling through MyD88 is essential to control Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium infection, but not for the initiation of bacterial clearance. Immunology In press DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2009.03146.x.

(3) Wright JA et al. (2009) Multiple redundant stress resistance mechanisms are induced in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium in response to alteration of the intracellular environment via TLR4 signalling. Microbiology 155, 2919-29

Prof Graham J. Burton (Human Placental Development & Function) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Professor of Reproductive Biology; Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Research Interests:

The principal focus of my research is human placental development and function, with a view to understanding the pathophysiology of complications of pregnancy, including pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction and miscarriage. We are interested in how the placenta responds to adverse conditions, such as hypoxia, undernutrition and infection, and how this impacts on maternal wellbeing and fetal development.

Possible project topics: I would be interested in developing projects investigating the role of the placenta in the causation of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction.

(1) Burton GJ et al. (2010). The influence of the intrauterine environment on human placental development. International Journal of Developmental Biology, 54, 303-312.

(2) Burton GJ et al. (2009). Placental endoplasmic reticulum stress and oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of unexplained intrauterine growth restriction and early-onset preeclampsia. Placenta, 30 Suppl. A, S43-S48.

(3) Fowden AL et al. (2008). The placenta and intrauterine programming. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 20, 439-450.

Dr Paula Buttery (Computational Linguistics and Language Learning) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Theoretical & Applied Linguistics, Computer Laboratory

Research Interests:

Computational Linguistics, Natural Language Processing, Corpus Linguistics, First and Second Language Learning, Automated Language Teaching and Assessment

Hawkins, J. and Filipovic, L. with Buttery, P., Capel, A., Hawkey, R., Salamoura, A., Saville, N., and Trim, J. Criterial features in L2 English: specifying the reference levels of the Common European Framework.

Buttery, P. and Caines, A. Normalising Frequency Counts to Account for `opportunity of use' in Learner Corpora. In: Tono, Y., Kawaguchi, Y., and Minegishi, M. (eds.), Developmental and Crosslinguistic Perspectives in Learner Corpus Research. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. p187---204

Rice, A., Buttery, P., Rai, I., and Beresford, A. Language learning on a next-generation service platform for Africa. Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social and Economic Development, W3C Workshop. Maputo, Mozambique.