Host organisation: University of Liverpool, UK

Project title: Transcriptomic analysis of multi-drug resistant Salmonella Typhimurium strains

Dr Benjamin Kumwenda was born in Malawi and obtained a BSc in Computer Sciences from University of Malawi, Chancellor College in 2001. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Computer Sciences from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2008, and in 2014, he was awarded a PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Pretoria. He is currently a lecturer at the College of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust.  His research interests are in development of robust algorithms, comparative genomics and drug resistance of human pathogens.

AREF Fellowship research project:

Dr Kumwenda’s AREF Fellowship project focused on a particular kind of Salmonella that causes some 380,000 deaths a year in Africa: it is termed iNTS serovar Typhimurium, short for invasive multidrug-resistant non-typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS) serovar Typhimurium. It especially affects children and HIV-infected adults in Africa.

During his AREF Fellowship, he identified differentially expressed virulence genes by comparing the transcriptome of multidrug-resistant Lineage-2 and 2A strains under different, defined environmental conditions, as established at the Hinton lab at the University of Liverpool.

As a result of his fellowship, he has been able to feed back into his local institution by supporting research of fellow scientists and teaching others the new skills and techniques he acquired.

AREF fellowship lay the basis for further work, and generated more data that will enable him to compete for a significant grant proposal in the future.