Dr Steven Kafora Mlenga

Host institution:       College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi; Local Supervisor Victor Mwapasa
Supervisor:               Ulla Ashorn, University of Tampere

Study Title
Assessing the effect of sulphadoxine-pyrimethimine (SP) or dihydroartemisin piperaquine (DP) or dihydroarteminisin piperaquine plus azithromycin (AZ) on the vaginal and intestinal microbiome of pregnant women in Malawi and Tanzania
Research Hypothesis
We will investigate the intestinal and vaginal microbiome among pregnant women as part of an individually-randomized, three-arm, superiority trial in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania
Research Objectives
  • To measure the impact of DP, SP and  DP+AZ on the vaginal  microbiome
  • To measure the impact of DP, SP and  DP+AZ on the  gut  microbiome
  • To determine whether exposure to study drug alters the relationship between maternal and infant microbiome structure
Stephen is a biomedical scientist currently studying towards a PhD with the University of Tampere, Finland. He holds a Master’s degree in immunity, infection and human disease from the University of Leeds and a BSc in medical laboratory sciences from the, College of Medicine, University of Malawi.
His Masters research question was an investigation of interleukin-36 (IL-36) cytokines secretion and its role in psoriasis. He gained relevant investigational skills in biological sciences like cell culture, cloning, PCR, protein expression and purification, western blot analysis, ELISA, cell imaging. His passion is to add to the knowledge in life sciences through research so as to impact change in people’s lives in my community and the world as a whole.
The IMPROVE project provides me with an opportunity to gain research experience in malaria in pregnancy which is such a big burden in my country, Malawi, and sub Saharan Africa at large. About 1.7 million pregnant women are susceptible to malaria every year in Tanzania. To be part of a team that seeks to find other alternatives to use of SP as an IPTp was exciting and brings an opportunity to be part of a research team that can possibly change the future control of malaria in pregnancy. Furthermore, IMPROVE has a team of well experienced researchers in malaria, that are mentoring me into an independent researcher.