Francis did his earlier education in Nairobi, Kenya, before proceeding to the National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK, where he did his PHD in immunology with Dr Jean Langhorne and Prof Kevin Marsh. He was awarded the PHD in 2005, after which he took up a post-doctoral training position at the same institute, and was successful at implementing a new programme of research in quantifying antigen-specific memory B cells in a mouse model of malaria. He moved back to Kenya in 2008 as post-doctoral researcher, with the aim of obtaining own funding to start and build a research group. His main areas of interest are: (i) immunological memory to malaria in historically infected individuals, and, (ii) hosts factors responsible for increased susceptibility to P falciparum malaria in a small proportion of children that experience excessively more malaria than expected. He is currently running a project to determin the correlates of naturally aquired pre-erythrocytic immunity to plasmodium falciparum Malaria in an experimental human challenge model (CoNAIPS) funded by EDCTP
Determining Correlates of Naturally Acquired Pre-Erythrocytic Immunity to Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in an Experimental Human Challenge Model (CoNAIPS) Malaria remains a major public health problem affecting the health and economic wellbeing of over 50% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population. In the absence of preventative vaccination, the situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. The development of an effective malaria vaccine has been difficult and would greatly benefit from a better understanding of the mechanisms that mediate naturally acquired immunity in adults with life-long exposure. A vaccine with protective efficacy against malaria is feasible, as several current approaches have achieved some success. For example, vaccinations with RTS,S/AS01 confer immunity to malaria in human trials However, this vaccination is insufficiently protective in its current form and additional approaches are required. Understanding naturally acquired immunity from field studies of malaria is very difficult as people get infected at different times, with different parasite strains and with different doses of the parasite. In this study, we are using experimental medicine, where adults with different levels of immunity, are infected with malaria parasites in a controlled and safe manner – and then we study their immune response to that experimental infection. Using this approach, we hope identify malaria parasite components from the pre-erythrocytic stages of the life cycle of malaria parasites associated with inducing protective immune responses in humans for inclusion in malaria vaccines. During the project, several MSC and PhD students will be trained in immunological research. This Senior Fellowship (SF) places the fellow in a good place to support the training of research students, and both the out-puts and capacity development activities associated with the project will position him further an African Research Leader, increasing his impact in the development of Science in the continent. This project is part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union.