The MLW Programme is a longstanding partnering between the College of Medicine, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and the University of Liverpool (UoL) core-funded by the Wellcome Trust.
MLW’s programmes and activities are intended to align with the strategic aims of all four institutions.
The University of Malawi’s College of Medicine (COM)
The University of Malawi’s College of Medicine (COM) is the country’s largest medical school with an intake of 115 students per year and a faculty of 134. COM has a research strategy that focuses on developing the scientific talent and building the capacity and infra-structure to undertake research programmes addressing the major diseases of Malawi. Six priority areas have been identified by COM: Maternal and adolescent health, Bioethics, Health systems, Nutrition and Early Child Development, HIV Clinical Trials and Implementation Science and Malaria Prevention and Treatment and there is an emphasis on translational research which can improve health outcomes in Malawi in the near future.
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and University of Liverpool
LSTM and UoL are both internationally recognised as leaders in tropical and global health research. LSTM’s research activity is almost exclusively focused on the tropics and MLW represents its major overseas clinical research base. LSTM’s strategy is based on translational research to improve the health of populations in resource poor countries. An extensive research portfolio (currently over £400 million funding) extends from basic parasite biology to health delivery and policy research and includes a number of major consortia such as the DfID funded Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases and the IVCC, a not for profit product development partnership committed to improving the effectiveness of vector control products. There is a particular focus on areas of strength in Neglected Tropical Diseases, Malaria and Vector borne diseases, Maternal and newborn health, Lung health and tuberculosis, and Antimicrobial resistance research. Substantial expertise in clinical trials, systematic reviews and health delivery research (£3 million CARHD develop-ment) underpin many of these initiatives.
The UoL strategic plan 2026 highlights the need to continue to grow international collaborative work as a central element of the university’s mission. Infection is one of the three re-search themes in which Liverpool will provide global leadership. To deliver this strategy, the Institute for Infection and Global Health (IGH) was established in 2010, bringing together leading medical, veterinary and basic scientists from across the University. Five areas of future strategic focus have been high-lighted; Environmental Change, Food Security, Antimicrobial Resistance, Diagnostic tests and Vaccines. Four of these five areas involve cur-rent major activity and investment in partner-ship with MLW with advanced plans to develop projects on zoonotic infections/food security. The Institute houses the Centre for Global Vaccine Research which connects to MLW as its major overseas partner. IGH acts links substantial expertise in infection pharmacology, AMR, HIV and TB, paediatrics, molecular biology, public health and epidemiology within other UoL institutes to research programmes in Malawi.
PARTNERS’ CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS MLW
COM is the natural academic home for local and international researchers working in Malawi and the relationship is a fundamental component of the MLW long-term impact strategy.
Administratively, COM facilitates the employment of overseas scientists in Malawi and pro-vides the ethical and regulatory structure for much of MLW’s work through the College of Medicine Research Ethics Committee (COM-REC); the COM site also houses some of MLW’s activities such as the TB laboratory, provides research-related short courses and training in GCP and GCLP. COM is well positioned to identify and select the very best medical and biomedical graduates in the region for scientific training. The combination of training opportunities in MLW and a clear career structure in COM has been instrumental in retaining Malawian medical scientists moving between COM and MLW during their careers. Six post-doctoral senior COM academics currently have projects based within MLW; MLW staff have honorary appointments with COM and contribute to teaching or training within the college. A highly successful joint PhD training programme (COM/UoL) has helped to strengthen supervision systems. COM also helps to facilitate access to policy makers through its links with the Ministry of Health and Technical Working Committees.
Strong support from Liverpool (LSTM and UoL) underpins the activities of MLW. The WTCGHR Director, Lalloo helps to facilitate scientific and administrative support for MLW. The WTCGHR Steering committee helps to advise the Programme on scientific strategy, facilitates access for MLW scientists to senior academic expertise in Liverpool, helps identify talent in the UK and ensures continued engagement and investment in MLW by LSTM and UoL. Senior scientists in Liverpool also help supervise and mentor staff in Malawi.
Liverpool makes a considerable financial in-vestment to support the MLW programme in Malawi. The MLW core grant does not support any senior scientists. LSTM and UoL currently support the salaries and overseas allowances of two Professors (Gordon S, Gordon M), one Reader (Everett), three Senior Lecturers (Mwandumba, Terlouw, Tam) and one Lecturer (Peterson). All are permanently based in Malawi. In the next year, it is anticipated that they will be joined by three further senior Lecturers funded by Liverpool (Feasey, Bar-Zeev and Freyne). In addition, substantial senior academic time is invested in MLW by Liverpool based staff (Lalloo, French) and there is part salary support for a finance officer in Malawi and MLW stores manager in Liverpool. All of this investment in staff has been critical to the success of MLW.