In 2023, the programme made some important contributions to reducing the burden of bacterial and viral infections that affect large numbers of people, particularly in LMICs.

Improving tuberculosis detection and prevention

We participated in the annual meetings of three EDCTP-funded projects aimed at improving early detection of TB (PreFIT, Stool4TB and CAGE-TB), held in Kampala, Uganda. In a one-day joint meeting, the three projects came together to foster collaboration. We also co-authored a relevant opinion article on how to optimise clinical trials of TB vaccine candidates in order to assess not only the individual protection, but also the indirect benefits at the population level (1).

Predicting outcomes of childhood pneumonia

Pneumonia is a leading cause of child mortality. We showed that a set of biomarkers in blood (IL8, sFLT-1 and sTREM1) can be used to predict the risk of death in children presenting to hospital with pneumonia (2). These findings led to the launch of the EDCTP-funded EChiLiBRiST project to develop and validate a rapid test for the early recognition and management of febrile patients at risk of severe disease.

Through the CHAMPS network, our researchers analysed direct and underlying causes of over 600 child deaths in seven LMICs and concluded that 8 out of 10 child deaths could have been prevented with available interventions (3).

Measuring the benefits of poverty reduction

But most of these child deaths had one thing in common: poverty and malnutrition. This is why many LMICs have implemented poverty reduction policies. We estimated that conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes have prevented more than 700,000 child deaths in Latin America over the past 20 years and could save an additional 150,000 lives by 2030 if expanded to mitigate the effects of the current economic crisis (4). Similarly, the combined effect of two large nationwide programmes in Brazil (social pensions and CCT) has led to a 13%-16% reduction in child mortality rates in recent years (5).

Poverty, along with racism and illiteracy, also increases the risk of contracting and dying from AIDS, according to a retrospective cohort study of 28.3 million people in Brazil (6).

In another publication, we reviewed the most innovative methods for assessing the health impact of public health policies (7).

Fighting antimicrobial resistance

In a report for the European Commission, we identified the main barriers to combating antimicrobial resistance in Europe, including lack of funding, capacity building and political focus. We also identified good practices and recommended measures to improve the implementation of national antimicrobial resistance plans.

Predicting protection against COVID-19 infection

In collaboration with a German team, we showed that IgG antibodies to the RBD of SARS-CoV2 are a good correlate of antibody neutralising activity. This allows the use of simpler and faster serological tests (Luminex or ELISA) to predict protection against COVID-19 infection (11).

Tackling liver disease

We developed an index score to assess how countries are dealing with the rapidly growing burden of steatotic liver disease (formerly known as fatty liver disease), and conducted an expert consultation to define a transformative research agenda and global actions to address this public health problem (8-10).


  1. Nelson KN et al. The Lancet Microbe
  2. Balanza N et al. Plos Glob Public Health.
  3. Medeiros-Cavalcanti D. JAMA Network Open.
  4. Aransiola TJ et al. Lancet Regional Health.
  5. Bassat Q et al. JAMA Network Open
  6. Lua et al. Lancet Regional Health
  7. Mueller N et al. IJHPM.
  8. Lazarus JV et al. Hepatology
  9. Lazarus JV et al. J Hepatol.
  10. Lazarus JV et al. Hepatology
  11. Aguilar R et al. Microbiol Spectr.