Better targeted TB treatments: major award for emerging health research leader

October 2018

One of the Africa Research Excellence Fund’s first participants in its Research Development Fellowship Programme has won a major research award to pursue his work on tailored tuberculosis treatments.

Dr Leopold Tientcheu Djomkam has been awarded a “K43 Emerging Global Leader Award” from the USA’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty International Center (FIC). He plans to continue his research into how Tuberculosis (caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex) has evolved with human populations and their migration, and how this may affect treatment outcomes.

Such differences have important implications for the treatment of TB, not only for the use of antibiotics, where ethnicity is a contributor to how patients respond to antibiotics, but also with the development of novel treatment strategies, otherwise called host-directed therapeutics (HDTs).

The five year award valued at US$ 539,205 will further Dr Tientcheu‘s proposed career development, research and training plans significantly.

He said

This…will enable me to build on the MRC Unit The Gambia at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)’s TB Programme and to strengthen collaboration with my hosts at the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research – CIDRI-Africa at the University of Cape Town (UCT), a well-established centre that brings together many groups working on different aspects of TB. Having worked with Professor Robert J Wilkinson and Dr Anna Coussens [as part of my AREF Fellowship], scientists with outstanding track records of winning competitive large grant awards, I have now been awarded a grant from FIC-NIH.

Dr Tientcheu from Cameroon is based in The Gambia and will spend time in both South Africa and the USA working with his mentoring team led by Professor Beate Kampmann (MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM) and Professor Daniel Kalman (Emory University, USA); the team also includes Professor Robert Wallis (Aurum Institute, South Africa) and Dr Alfred Ngwa (MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM).

Commending Dr Tientcheu on his success in winning this important grant, AREF’s Founder and Director Professor Tumani Corrah CBE MRG reiterated the Fund’s vision:

…to grow a cohort of African health researchers who lead and partner world-class research that benefits patients, populations, policy makers and practitioners. By nurturing these researchers at key points in their careers they can strengthen their technical expertise, develop high quality and competitive research proposals and win further funding to lead research that improves health and saves lives.