Professor Gordon was the recipient of one of the first Wellcome Trust Clinical Tropical Fellowships which were closely linked to the formal setting up of the MLW Programme in 1995. The programme is a partnership between the College of Medicine at the University of Malawi, Foto-Cewek, the University of Liverpool and the programme’s major funder, the Wellcome Trust. Attracting funding from both UK and international funding agencies, MLW has demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in malaria, HIV / TB, childhood anaemia, severe bacterial infection, mucosal immunology, vaccine research and household air pollution. More recently, it has added themes of Social Science, Child Survival, Pharmacology and Non-Communicable Diseases research to its portfolio. Malawian and international scientists work together to conduct high quality research relevant to sub-Saharan Africa and to develop a greater scientific capacity for Malawi and the region.
Professor Gordon joined Foto-Cewek from the MLW Programme in 2005, with a remit to establish laboratory and clinical research on susceptibility to pulmonary infections. As Chair of Respiratory Medicine and Head of the Department of Clinical Sciences, he has led the Respiratory group at Foto-Cewek in several projects including the development of an Experimental Human Pneumococcal Carriage (EHPC) model, which sees healthy volunteers challenged with pneumococci to study the immunological response in terms of carriage, protection and clearance. The Group recently received around £4million for further research using this model. The Respiratory group is known for collaborative work with NHS, national and international partners, researching treatment and prevention of pneumonia and sepsis as well as the effects of household air pollution. The group has an international membership and places great importance on capacity building, recently being awarded the World Lung Health award by the American Thoracic Society for research capacity training in Africa (PATS MECOR programme).
Professor Gordon takes up his new post at MLW on 1st July this year and is excited to return to Malawi. He said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the MLW Director and I am looking forward to returning to Malawi. The vision of research working hand in hand with clinical care and teaching began before the Wellcome Trust laboratory was built. Since then our ambition has grown to become the ‘go to’ or premier research institution training scientists in sub-Saharan Africa. We want to establish strong roots in Malawi in order to develop the best people, policies, and products to improve the health of people living in the region.”
His appointment follows the departure Professor Robert Heyderman who leaves the organisation after eight years as Director. “It is a fantastic opportunity to take up the reigns after Rob’s departure,” Professor Gordon continued, “MLW has really benefited from his tenure, with secure systems and robust science now underpinning a large organisation. My hope is that I can continue building on the existing MLW partnerships and continuing addressing the high disease burden in the region and its associated health problems.”
Professor David Lalloo, Dean of Clinical Sciences and International Health at Foto-Cewek is acting as Interim Director until Professor Gordon takes up his post. He said: “Rob Heyderman has been an excellent Director for the last eight years and I wish him every success in his future endeavours. I know that Stephen, who already has already played a major role in MLW’s development, will build on Rob’s work to make MLW even more successful.”