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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

NIHR Global Health Research Unit for Neglected Tropical Diseases

BSMS > Research > Global health and Infection > NIHR Global Health Research Unit for NTDs

NIHR Global Health Research Unit for Neglected Tropical Diseases

Established in 2017, the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at BSMS aims to:

  • improve our ability to diagnose, prevent and treat podoconiosis
  • develop tools to prevent mycetoma - there is no effective treatment
  • strengthen the ability of low-income countries to respond to scabies outbreaks.

The first phase of the Unit was successfully completed in 2021, and you can read about it here. In 2021 we were awarded a further £7 million funding over 5 years by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to develop a second phase for the Unit.

The new grant will fund research projects with existing and new partners based in Ethiopia, Sudan and Rwanda, working on three NTDs (podoconiosis, mycetoma and scabies). Together, these conditions affect millions of vulnerable people in poor communities in low-income countries, and they are mostly ignored by other research groups.

Watch our video below to find out more about what we do.

Man with Podo symptoms bandaging his own foot

Overview of the project

An overview of the project and how it evolved from Phase 1

The NIHR Global Health Research Unit (GHRU) on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at Brighton and Sussex Medical School aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people affected by three highly neglected conditions in Ethiopia, Sudan and Rwanda. Since 2017, our unit has carried out a highly successful needs-driven research programme into three conditions considered severely neglected in terms of research, public attention and political will: podoconiosis (a progressive, disabling form of leg swelling seen in barefoot farmers); mycetoma (a destructive infection of the skin and underlying tissues) and scabies (a profoundly irritating skin condition caused by burrowing mites). 

Phase 2 has been designed to build on the strengths of Phase 1 and expand the partnership established. Moving on from the structure of the GHRU and the work packages, Phase 2 will work in four separate themes of research, to foster working across the diseases and institutions focussing on shared commonalities. Examples of this could be shared learning through GWAS methodology for mycetoma and podoconiosis; developing bioinformatics platforms together; training needs; or strengthening regional institutional collaboration.

Read more about phase 1 here >

Research themes

In Phase 2 of our GHRU, we plan an entirely new five-year programme comprising 12 research projects. The research questions have been co-created through a process of i) consulting with stakeholders including patients, communities, implementers and policy makers; ii) identifying the areas in which our Phase 1 GHRU has had the most impact; and iii) participating in WHO and disease-group identification of research gaps. The projects will run in parallel and are grouped into four interrelated themes:

  1. Mechanisms of disease
  2. Geospatial mapping
  3. Diagnostics and drug development
  4. Implementation research.
Women under tree with other family members

Partners and collaborators

The NIHR GHRU Phase 2 at BSMS will work in partnership with CDT Africa at Addis Ababa University and the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia; the Mycetoma Research Centre and The Institute for Endemic Diseases, University of Khartoum, Sudan; the University of Rwanda. The Institute of Development Studies is one of our collaborators in the UK.

Read more about the NIHR partners >

Kigali Declaration videos

On the 30 January 2022, the NIHR Projects at BSMS held an event to celebrate World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day at the Kigali Convention Centre. The event enabled the Rwanda Ministry of Health to reflect on its lead role in the writing of the Kigali Declaration, and enable the Rwanda Biomedical Centre to showcase its work against NTDs.

Watch the recordings from the event below.