Professor Nigel Cunliffe awarded OBE

Head and shoulders shot of a smiling Professor Nigel Cunliffe

The University of Liverpool’s Professor Nigel Cunliffe has been awarded an OBE for services to infectious disease and vaccine research in the 2023 New Year Honours list.

Work led by Professor Cunliffe over the past 25 years in Malawi has played a key role in the introduction of life-saving vaccines against rotavirus, the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children, across Africa. This included a pivotal first clinical trial of a human rotavirus vaccine that informed the World Health Organization’s global vaccine recommendation in 2009 and the subsequent introduction of rotavirus vaccine in Malawi and many other African countries.

Professor Cunliffe is currently Director of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Gastrointestinal Infections, Director of the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Gastrointestinal Infections, and an NIHR Senior Investigator. In these roles he works with academic and public health colleagues to reduce the population burden of infectious intestinal disease in the UK and Africa.

Professor Cunliffe joined the University of Liverpool in 1996 as a Wellcome Research Training Fellow in Clinical Tropical Medicine, based at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Clinical Research-Programme in Blantyre, Malawi. He obtained his PhD at the University in 2001, was appointed Professor of Medical Microbiology in 2011 and works as an honorary consultant medical microbiologist at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Cunliffe said: “I am deeply honoured by this award, which reflects the unwavering support that I have received from my family, friends, colleagues and research team over many years. Diarrhoeal diseases remain a leading cause of global illness and death, and I am humbled that our multidisciplinary research programme, which strives to reduce suffering especially among disadvantaged populations, has been recognised through this honour.”

Professor Louise Kenny, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences said: “The entire University of Liverpool family is thrilled that Professor Cunliffe’s work has been recognised in this way. Nigel has dedicated his career to researching the causes of, and developing vaccines for, diarrhoeal diseases and we are exceptionally proud of the huge impact this has had on infant and childhood mortality globally. Nigel is an exceptionally modest colleague who is always the first to acknowledge the contribution of his team. In turn, they would want me to highlight Nigel’s dedication, generosity and wonderful leadership. This award is richly deserved.”