Major new global brain infections project launched

Professor Solomon examining a child who has recovered from a brain infection in Southern India

The University has secured £2 million from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to improve the management of devastating brain infections in low and middle income countries.

The three-year funding will establish a new NIHR Global Health Research Group on Brains Infections, which will be led by Professor Tom Solomon at the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, in partnership with seven leading research organisations.

Acute brain infections, such as meningitis and encephalitis, are a major cause of death and disability globally. There is relatively little global research expertise in tackling them. For many brain infections appropriate therapies exist, but doctors fail to diagnose, and thus treat them properly.

To tackle this, the new Global Health Research Group will link Liverpool, with its outstanding reputation in brain infections research, to the internationally renowned Warwick Centre for Applied Health Research and Delivery, and to leading research institutes in Malawi, India and Brazil. The overall aim is to improve the diagnosis of acute brain infections in adults and children in these countries, to guide treatment and improve outcomes.

Professor Solomon, said: “It is a very exciting time to be working in this area. We believe by combining the most sophisticated molecular technologies to improve diagnosis, with some relatively simple changes in patient care we can have a marked impact on the management of patients with devastating brain infections, like meningitis and encephalitis.”

Dr Ava Easton of the Encephalitis Society, who is leading the Patient and Public Involvement Panel for the programme, said: “The Global Health Research Group on Brain Infections is such an exciting project. Infections continue to pose a significant public health risk. Every year we see lives and families devastated, and left to deal with the often life-long consequences. Global collaborations like this bring together experts from their respective countries and I am very pleased to have been asked to drive the patient and public involvement element of the project.”

Professor Ravi Vasanthapuram Senior Professor and former Registrar at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience in Bangalore India, said: “This new programme allows us to share our experiences with colleagues in Malawi and Brazil, through South-South partnerships, and devise new ways of tackling the problems common to all lower and middle income countries.”

Professor Louise Kenny, Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Liverpool, added: “This award is hugely significant. It reflects the University of Liverpool’s international reputation in infection research and supports our long-standing collaborations with other leading researchers in India, Africa, and Brazil. A truly global partnership of outstanding researchers with the support of NIHR will undoubtedly have a major impact on the lives of people affected by these devastating conditions.”

A launch meeting for the Global Health Research Group was held on 19-20 June at the University of Liverpool in London, which brought together representatives from all partner institutions.

The consortium partners include Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (UK); Centre for Applied Health Research and Delivery, University of Warwick (UK); The Encephalitis Society (UK); The College of Medicine (Malawi); Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (Malawi); National Institute for Mental Health & Neuroscience (India); Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Brazil) and Christian Medical College Vellore (India).

For more information about the research programme please visit:

For more information on the NIHR awards can be found here.

The launch meeting of Brain Infections Global at the University of Liverpool in London

Leave a comment