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 supporting 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 encourage new collaborations with African researchers and to support African PhD students and post-doctoral fellows, we have built (and are continuously expanding) a database of current and potential Cambridge collaborators and their expertise. The 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 should to be directed to one of the Cambridge-Africa team 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 Chris Sandbrook (Political Ecologist- Biodiversity Conservation ) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in Conservation Leadership, Department of Geography

Research Interests:

I am a political ecologist with diverse research interests around a central theme of biodiversity conservation and its relationship with society. My current research activities can be divided into two categories: (i) investigating trade-offs between ecosystem services at the landscape scale in developing countries and (ii) investigating the role of values and evidence in shaping the decisions of conservationists and their organisations.

Current African links:
Connections to Makerere University in Uganda, particularly to Wilber Ahebwa and David Tumusiime

Sandbrook, C., Cavanagh, C.J. and Tumusiime, D.M., 2018. Conservation and Development in Uganda, Routledge. 276pp.

More publications can be found:

Dr David Sargan (Population Genetics & Zoonotic Viral Diseases) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Director of Graduate Education, Cambridge University Veterinary School; and Chair, Training Committee, Cambridge BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership…

Research Interests:

I am part of a collaborative project (with Wood et al.) investigating the Straw coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum), as a potential reservoir of zoonotic diseases, especially lyssa and henipavirus infections.  My own lab’s role has been to measure population structure and migration, focussing on population genetics.

Current African links: Through the Eidolon consortium, links with Ghana especially, but also Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, DRC. In the past I have also worked on canine Leishmania resistance in Sudan.

Dr Carole Sargent (Sex Chromosome Evolution, Epigenetics, Molecular Biology and Genome Biology) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Senior Research Associate, Department of Pathology/ Hughes Hall Fellow

Research Interests:

The lab has a number of current themes in the research. These include sex chromosome evolution in mammalian species, which has arisen from a long-standing interest in sex chromosome abnormalities in humans; pigs as models for disease processes, particularly looking at maternal infanticide as a model of puerperal psychosis; and nutritional contributions to epigenetic changes correlating to adult onset diseases using rat models and human population studies.

Possible project topics: Open to suggestions that fit within the overall interests of the group.

Current African links: Current visiting Fellow from Ghana, Dr Richard Osei-Amponsah, investigating the genetic origins of the native Ashanti Black Pig.
Gates funded project to investigate the impact of nutritional status during pregnancy on long-term health outcomes of babies in Gambia.

Dr Nadeem Sarwar (Epidemiology Of Vascular Disease In East Africa) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Lecturer in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology, Dept of Public Health and Primary Care

Research Interests:

My research focuses on better understanding the role of lifestyle, biochemical and genetic factors in global vascular health. My work involves coordination of large-scale epidemiological studies based across Western Europe and North America, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Possible project topics: Causes and determinants of cardiometabolic diseases in East Africa.

Current African links: Principal Investigator, Botswana Pelo (Heart) Initiative – bioresource for the study of cardiovascular diseases in sub-Saharan Africa; in collaboration with several local organisations including the Heart Foundation of Botswana, University of Botswana, Botswana Ministry of Health and the Botswana National Food Technology Research Centre.

(1) Sarwar N et al. The Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration. Major lipids, apolipoproteins and risk of vascular disease: individual data analysis of 302,430 participants from 68 cohorts. JAMA in press.

(2) Sarwar N et al. CETP genotypes, circulating levels of lipid fractions and coronary risk. JAMA 2008; 299 (23): 2777-88.

(3) Sarwar N et al. Triglycerides and the risk of coronary heart disease: 10 158 incident cases among 262 525 participants in 29 western prospective studies. Circulation 2007; 115 (4): 450-8.

Dr Stephen Sawcer (Genetics Of Multiple Sclerosis) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Reader in Neurogenetics, Dept of Clinical Neurosciences

Research Interests:

Genetics of multiple sclerosis. Possible project topics: Follow up studies in genes identified as relevant in multiple sclerosis.

Dr Ivan Scales (Political Ecology and Natural Resources) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
McGrath Lecturer in Geography

Research Interests:

I am geographer specialising in political ecology in sub-Saharan Africa. My research emphasises the role of political, cultural and economic factors in shaping the way natural resources are used and contested. I have carried out research in Cameroon, The Gambia, Madagascar and Senegal. My current research interests include agriculture, rural livelihoods, food security, deforestation, community-based conservation and environmental values.

Scales, I.R. editor (2014) Conservation and Environmental Management in Madagascar. Earthscan, London

Scales, I.R. (2012) ‘Lost in translation: Conflicting views of deforestation, land use and identity in western Madagascar’ The Geographical Journal, 178, 67-79

Scales, I.R. (2011) ‘Farming at the forest frontier: Land use and landscape change in western Madagascar, 1896 to 2005’. Environment and History, 17, 499-524

Dr Nidhi Singal (Education and Social justice; , Poverty, Disability and Education;) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Reader, Faculty of Education

Research Interests:

Education and Social justice; , Poverty, Disability and Education; Southern countries; Qualitative research in developing contexts.

Current developing countries links:
India, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan


Singal, N. (2011). Guest Editor for the Special Issue: Disability, Poverty and Education: Implications for policies and practices. International Journal of Inclusive Education.15 (10).

Singal, N. (2011). Guest Editor for the Special Issue: Disability, Poverty and Education: Implications for policies and practices. International Journal of Inclusive Education.15 (10).

ingal, N. (2009). Education for children with disabilities in India. A background paper for EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010. UNESCO: Paris.

Prof Derek Smith (Antigenic Variation In Malaria & Dengue Fever) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Professor of Infectious Disease Informatics, Dept of Zoology

Research Interests:

Research Interests:
Pathogen evolution. Antigenic cartography. Fitness landscapes.

Possible project topics:Antigenic variation of malaria parasites. Antigenic variation of Dengue viruses. Antigenic variation of other antigenically variable pathogens.

Current African links:Working in collaboration with Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Kilifi, Kenya (Margaret MacKinnon, Pete Bull, Alex Rowe).

. M. Fonville et al, 2014. Antibody landscapes after influenza virus infection or vaccination Science346(6212):996-1000

Björn F. Koel et al, 2013. Substitutions Near the Receptor Binding Site Determine Major Antigenic Change During Influenza Virus Evolution Science 342(6161):976-979.

Garten RJ et al. 2009. Antigenic and Genetic Characteristics of Swine-Origin. A(H1N1) Influenza Viruses Circulating in Humans, Science, 325 (5937): 197-201.

Russell CA et al. 2008. The global circulation of seasonal influenza A(H3N2) viruses. Science, 320(5874), pp. 340-346.

Smith DJ et al. 2004. Mapping the Antigenic and Genetic Evolution of Influenza Virus. Science 305, pp 371-376.

Prof Kenneth Smith (Immunity, Autoimmunity & Immunological Regulation In Malaria) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Professor of Medicine, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Dept of Medicine

Research Interests:

My lab has two main components. (1) How changes in regulatory control of the immune system can lead to autoimmunity and alter defence against infection. Recent work has provided insight into the evolution of predisposition to autoimmunity, and identified potential therapeutic strategies. (2) A translational programme studying patients with autoimmune diseases and correlating clinical data with RNA microarray data. This is leading to better informed clinical trials, and identification of genes involved in disease pathogenesis. It is being extended to study Asian populations, in whom SLE is more common and severe.

Possible project topics: Work at the interface between malaria and autoimmunity (in either mouse or man) could form the core of a project.

Current African links: Collaborations with KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme, Kilifi, Kenya (Tom Williams et al).

(1) Willcocks LC et al. (2008),

(2) Clatworthy MR et al. (2007),

(3) Floto RA et al. (2005),

Prof David Spring (Exploiting Biological Systems, Using Organic Synthesis) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
University Teaching Officer, Dept of Chemistry

Research Interests:

Our research interests originate from a desire to understand and exploit biological systems using organic synthesis primarily. The areas of research that we are exploring include Diversity-Oriented Synthesis, Synthetic Methodology: Medium Ring Synthesis and Natural Product Synthesis, Quorum Sensing, New Antibiotic Discovery, Modulation of Protein-Protein Interactions, Molecular Therapeutics: Chemistry-Driven Drug Discovery.

Current African links: Mentor for a THRiVE Postdoctoral Fellow from Kenya.

(1) Diversity-Oriented Synthesis of Macrocyclic Peptidomimetics. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2011, 108, 6793-6798.

(2) Better leads come from diversity. Nature 2011, 470, 43.

(3) Novel and Efficient Copper-Catalysed Synthesis of Nitrogen-Linked Medium-Ring Biaryls. Chem. Eur. J. 2011, 17, 2981-2986.

Dr Jane Stinchcombe (Cytotoxic T-lymphocytes) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

Research Interests:

Cytotoxic T-lymphocytes of the immune system associate with and kill tumour and virus-infected cells by releasing toxic proteins which enter and kill unwanted cells. Cytotoxic material is stored in 'secretory' lysosomes and released on contacting a'target'. We are interested in mechanisms involved in killing, especially those involved in polarised delivery of the killing machinery to the contact site. Understanding this is vital for understanding how to combat cancer, AIDS and other lethal diseases.

Mother Centriole Distal Appendages Mediate Centrosome Docking at the Immunological Synapse and Reveal Mechanistic Parallels with Ciliogenesis. Stinchcombe JC, Randzavola LO, Angus KL, Mantell JM, Verkade P, Griffiths GM. 2015. Curr Biol. 25:3239. PMID: 26670998

Communication, the centrosome and the immunological synapse. Stinchcombe JC, Griffiths GM. 2014. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 369:20130463. PMID: 25047617

Centrosome polarization delivers secretory granules to the immunological synapse. Stinchcombe JC, Majorovits E, Bossi G, Fuller S, Griffiths GM.2006. Nature. 443:462 PMID: 17006514

Prof Azim Surani (Germ Cells; Epigenetic Reprogramming; Stem Cells) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Professor and Senior Group Leader, Wellcome Trust Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute and Dept of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Research Interests:

Germ cells; epigenetic reprogramming; stem cells.

(1) Hayashi K and Surani MA. Resetting the epigenome beyond pluripotency in the germline (2009) Cell Stem Cell 5; 4 (6): 493-498.

(2) Surani MA et al. Germ Line, Stem Cells and Epigenetic Reprogramming (2008) In 73rd Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Stem Cells Quant Biol 6 Nov.

(3) Surani MA et al. (2007) Genetic and Epigenetic Regulators of Pluripotency. Cell 128, 747-762.

Dr Sue Swaffield (Educational leadership and School Improvement) More Info

Position & Affiliation:
Faculty of Education

Research Interests:

Educational leadership, school improvement, and assessment, especially Leadership for Learning, critical friendship, and assessment for learning. Since 2009 I have been working with colleagues at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana on a collaborative development and research programme building the leadership capacity of headteachers’ in basic schools. This has also involved introducing circuit supervisors, district training officers, and directors to the Leadership for Learning framework.

Current African links: The Ghana Leadership for Learning programme ( and Alborada Research Fund developing Ghanaian colleagues’ research capacity in the participatory monitoring and evaluation approach known as the ‘Most Significant Change’ technique.


MacBeath, J., Swaffield, S., Oduro, G. and Ampah-Mensah, A. (2012) ‘Building Leadership Capacity, Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Ghanaian Basic Schools’ in J. MacBeath and M. Younger (Eds.) A Common Wealth of Learning: Millennium Goals Revisited. Abingdon: Routledge. p49-60.

MacBeath, J. and Swaffield, S. (2013) ‘Living with the colonial legacy: the Ghana story’ in S. Clarke and T. O’Donoghue (Eds.) School Level Leadership in Post-Conflict Societies. Abingdon: Routledge.

Swaffield, S., Jull, S. and Ampah-Mensah, A. (2013) Using Mobile Phone Texting to Support the Capacity of School Leaders in Ghana to Practise Leadership for Learning. Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences. 103, 26 November 2013, 1295-1302.