Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme

The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW), in partnership with the University of Malawi College of Medicine (COM), the Malawi Ministry of Health and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) conducts internationally competitive, cutting-edge, fundamental clinical and epidemiological research that addresses the health challenges facing populations of sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) is one of Malawi’s four national referral hospitals, is the main teaching base for the CoM, and functions as the district general hospital for a local population of approximately 1 million.


Dr. Henry Mwandumba: MLW Principal Investigator

I am a Clinician Scientist and Head of the Mucosal Immunology Group at MLW, University of Malawi College of Medicine, and Consultant Physician at QECH. My research focuses on understanding the effects of HIV on pulmonary immunity and predisposition to respiratory infections, especially tuberculosis. I am President of the Immunology Society of Malawi (ISM), President of the Federation of African Immunological Societies (FAIS) and Treasurer of the East, Central and Southern Africa College of Physicians (ECSACoP). My research is supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust, BMGF, NIH and the MRC through the MRC/DfID African Research Leader Award. I oversee the work of the AMBITION study team here in Blantyre.

Dr. Melanie Alufandika: Study Physician

I work at MLW as the lead study physician and coordinator of the trial here at our site in Blantyre.

I hold an MBBS from University of Malawi and have almost completed my MSc in Clinical Trials from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

I have 3 years of prior experience in clinical research from my work as study physician and coordinator on a HIV-associated TB clinical trial evaluating the impact on mortality of urine based diagnostics. I have a keen interest in respirology, HIV and TB and I hope to undertake postgraduate clinical training in Internal Medicine in the near future.

Dr. Henry Mzinganjira: Study Physician

I obtained a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 2006 from University of Malawi College of Medicine. I completed my internship programme in 2008, after which I worked as a District Health Officer for two years, where I was responsible for managing all health services in Mzimba District. I then worked as a Medical Registrar for QECH/College of Medicine and for Groote Schuur Hospital/University of Cape Town for four years. Following this, I was employed as a Study Doctor for the START study at MLW, and in 2017 I qualified as a Internal Medicine Specialist after obtaining a Master of Medicine [Internal Medicine] from University of Malawi College of Medicine.

I am currently the Head of the Renal unit at QECH. My professional research interests are focussed upon non-communicable diseases, in particular diabetes and hypertension in relation to kidney diseases.

Dr. Eltas Dziwani: Study Physician

I obtained my MBBS from the University of Malawi College of Medicine in 2008, and an MSc in Public Healtth from LSHTM in 2014. I have a wide range of clinical experience; I completed an internship at QECH in 2010, following which I worked at the rural Chikwawa District Hospital, managing clinical services. After this I worked for four years as a District Medical Officer for the Blantyre District and Blantyre city, where I was in charge of managing the primary health care services and disease control programmes. In 2015 I returned to QECH to take up a post as a Medical Officer in the Internal Medicine Department, where I am continuing my specialist training in internal medicine.

I also worked as a study physician for the ACTA study during the second half of 2016. My professional research interests focus on the interplay between infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases in developing countries, such as how HIV – and ART regimens – can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ebbie Gumbi Gondwe: Lead Nurse

I have worked as a research nurse for 12 years in various clinical trials, including the ACTG, HPTN and MTN studies, and have a further two years of experience in Nursing and Midwifery. In particular, I have been working as a senior research nurse in cryptococcal meningitis clinical studies since 2013, including in the ACTA study from April 2013 to May 2017.

I have special interests in counselling and Health Education, and I have just completed a Bachelor Degree in Public Health to further these interests. My main responsibilities in AMBITION are to consent study participants, provide general nursing care including clinical monitoring, administer study medications, complete of Case Report Forms and follow up participants to ensure minimal loss to follow up. I also provide general oversight to ensure retention of participants.

Wezi Newa Chimang’anga: Research Nurse

I joined the AMBITION team in July 2017, with eight years’ experience in research at MLW, where I worked across various studies and sites inlcuding in Chikwawa, Zomba and here in Blantyre.  I hold a diploma in nursing which I obtained at Mulanje College of Nursing, Malawi, and am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Health in Malawi.

Madalitso Chasweka: Research Nurse

I have worked as a Research Nurse in the clinical research department at MLW for more than 9 years. I have experience of working in a number of different health care settings, providing nursing and midwifery care to patients/clients in both health centers and district/central level referral hospitals.

I have been involved in several clinical trials; namely the ACTA and CRYPTOFAZ studies, all involving administration of investigational products, safety monitoring, efficacy and pharmacokinetic aspects.
In addition to my Nursing and Midwifery degrees, I have diplomas in Project Management and Leadership; qualifications that have helped deepen my understanding of research work, as well as improve my skills in the field. I intend to pursue further clinical trials training in the future and advance my professional qualifications.

Christopher Kukacha: Laboratory Technician

I studied Biomedical Sciences at Malawi College of Health Sciences, following which I joined the Malawi College of Medicine in 2011 to work on the iLins project. I took up my role at MLW in 2013 as a study lab technician on the ACTA trial.

I am responsible for processing samples from AMBITION participants here at the Blantyre site.

John Ndaferankhande: Study Pharmacist

I completed my Honours Degree in Phamacy in 2011 from the College of Medicine, University of Malawi, and in January 2019 I will begin a Masters in Pharmacovigilance and Pharmacoepidemiology under the Eu2P Progrmme. I am the lead Pharmacist at MLW and prior to joining the AMBITION team I worked as the Lead Pharmacist in the later stages of the ACTA trial. I am a co-author on Chloroquine as Weekly Chemoprophylaxis or Intermittent Treatment to Prevent Malaria in Pregnancy in Malawi: a Randomized Controlled Trial “, which was published in LANCET in 2018.

My passion is the epidemiology of vaccines.

Evelyn Kossam: Study Administrator

My background is in Business Administration, and I have an advanced diploma from the Malawi Polytechnic University. Prior to joining MLW in 2016 I served for ten years as a secretary at Malawian NGO Banja La Mtsogolo. Before starting work on AMBITION I worked as an MLW Research Group Administrator where I was responsible for the administrative and organisational work of the group, including coordinating travel logistics for Group Heads and individual study PIs, organising and facilitating workshops, and maintaining databases (grant tracking, publications, staff leave, certifications etc.). I am very passionate about improving health in Malawi, and about a Malawian population free of preventable health-related problems.

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