New MRC unit director speaks


Speaking exclusively to The Standard at Fajara, Prof. Umberto D’ Alessandro said: “I feel very honoured and I’m emboldened by the task because Dr Tumani Corra [his predecessor] has been a good director and I really want to do as good as him and if possible better. We are closely working with the ministry of health. We want to make MRC a reference centre of excellence for research in West African region and for training of researchers and professionals. We want to build our research agenda on the needs of the Gambia and West Africa.”

Dr. Umberto added: “We have done a lot of research on malaria in The Gambia. We are looking at how we can interrupt transmission of malaria and see whether we can go through the elimination of malaria. We also look at the infection of small children and new-born where bacterial infection is a major problem. We have also carried out the countrywide TB survey. Therefore, there are lots of things going on. But mainly we are focusing on diseases of public health concern. The MRC is committed to quality research to generate evidence for successful interventions that can be deployed to achieve this vision in the Gambia as a case study and the sub region and continent at large.”




Prof. Umberto D’Alessandro (MD, MSc, PhD) has a long working experience in Africa, first as a clinician (Benin and Kenya) and later as a clinical epidemiologist (The Gambia). He has been involved in malaria research since 1990 when he carried out the evaluation of the Gambian National programme on insecticide-treated bednets. He joined the Department of Parasitology at the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium in 1996 where he was, until the end of 2010, the head of the Epidemiology Unit. There, he developed a research program around three themes: antimalarial treatment, including drug resistance, malaria prevention, and the P. vivax in vitro cycle, implemented in several malaria endemic countries, e.g. Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin, Vietnam, Peru, etc. In 2011, he joined the Medical Research Council Unit in The Gambia (MRCG) as theme leader of disease control and elimination. In January 2014, he was appointed director of the MRCG.


By Sainey MK Marenah