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Angeziwa Chirambo Completes Her PhD

Angeziwa successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on “The role of gut microbiota in colonization resistance against common enteric pathogens in Malawian children”. Angeziwa’s study had two main aims. The first was to describe changes in gut microbiota composition with enteric pathogen exposure in children 6 to 18 months of age. The second was to mechanistically explore the anti-infective properties of Bifidobacterium isolated from exclusively breastfed Malawian children, against an invasive ST313 Salmonella Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) strain. Bifidobacterium is a health-promoting gut microbiota member that is predominant in exclusively breastfeeding infants. Some of the important findings of her study are:

  • Malawian children are asymptomatically exposed to multiple enteric pathogens with a median of 3 pathogens at any time point
  • Most of this asymptomatic enteric pathogen exposure is not associated with changes in gut microbiota composition
  • Bifidobacterium is the most abundant gut microbiota member in Malawian children
  • Most Bifidobacterium strains isolated from Malawian children are genomically distinct from the available global Bifidobacterium genome collection and some Bifidobacterium strains possess anti-infective properties against S. Typhimurium.

Angeziwa’s career has significantly benefited from the MLW CORE Training Grant as she was awarded funding to study for a Ph.D. under the joint (College of Medicine and the University of Liverpool UoL) registration scheme. She was also a recipient of the Commonwealth Split-site Ph.D. Scholarship, which enables her to carry out some of her experimental and data analysis work at the University of Liverpool and the Quadrum Institute in the UK. Her work was supervised by Professor Melita Gordon, Professor Miren Iturriza-Gomara, Professor Lindsay Hall, Dr. Arox Kamng’ona, and Dr. Tonney Nyirenda.

Angeziwa holds an MSc in Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her Master’s was also funded by MLW core training grant and Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.

Asked how she found the experience, Angeziwa said, “Working on the gut microbiota and specifically understanding how Bifidobacterium helps in fighting enteric infections in children was very exciting. The study outcomes have however left me with a lot of follow-up questions that will lead to more studies. The research and experimental knowledge and skills that I have gained are also very profound – I am now set to design and conduct ground-breaking research with minimal supervision. Some of the skills that I have gained are anaerobic culturing techniques, library preparation and sequencing, bioinformatics, and statistical analysis. I also made collaborations that will positively impact my research career post Ph.D.”

Congratulations Angeziwa!