Ali Zumla University College London

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Ali Zumla University College London

Ali Zumla University College London

Professor Ali Zumla

Professor of Infectious Diseases & International Health, Division of Infection & Immunity, UCL

Ali is an honours graduate of the University of Zambia and the University of London. He is dually qualified in medicine (MBChB) and science (PhD) and is accredited in internal medicine, infectious diseases and clinical immunology. As a BEIT Scholar he completed an MSc in Clinical Tropical Medicine at the University of London, (awarded with distinction and the Mugratroyd prize) and he subsequently obtained his PhD from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,(awarded the Alan Woodruff Medal). After working for 4 years as senior registrar at the Hammersmith Hospital, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London he spent two years as associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston, Texas, USA before joining UCL in 1994. Professor Zumla R&D spans several institutions in Europe linking them with 10 in sub-Saharan Africa on multi-country translational research, clinical trials, and basic science research on tuberculosis, TB/HIV/AIDS and respiratory illnesses affecting adults and children. His team’s research findings and expertise have contributed to the development of WHO policy guidelines on management of tuberculosis and HIV co-infections. Professor Zumla has 350 peer-reviewed publications and has edited 19 medical textbooks. He was the ‘lead guru’ of the high profile ‘Lancet TB Theme Series’ of 7 articles and 6 commentaries launched in Geneva in 2010, Lancet ID TB Theme series 2012, Lancet Resp Med TB series 2014, Journal of Infectious Diseases volume on ‘Tuberculosis and TB/HIV/AIDS-controversies and unanswered questions’’ and The Lancet Mass Gatherings Medicine series launched at the WHA Geneva in May 2014. Recent International prizes awarded to him in include The Donald Mackay Medal from The Royal Society of tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2014), The Times Higher Education award (Nov 2013), The Karolinska Institutet Annual Science Prize (2012); The University of Amsterdam Spinoza Leerstoel Award (2011); the WHO STOP TB Partnership Kochon Prize and Medal(2011); the UK India Intl Fdn Science Award and the highest Zambian government civilian award -the Order of The Grand Commander of Distinguished Services – First Division.

Research Summary


1.CLINICAL TRIALS FOR EVALUATION NEW DIAGNOSTICS, DRUGS, TREATMENT AND PROPHYLACTICS: Professor Zumla has created major international multi-country collaborations between academia, health care providers and industry for the conduct of multi-centre GLP/GCP clinical trials, the results of which have changed global practice. Seven of 11 randomised clinical trials have been completed. A phase 1 trial of autologous bone-marrow-derived stem cell transfusions for treatment of MDR-TB in Belarus in collaboration with Professor Maeurer of Karolinska Institutet (PI) has been completed. A phase II trial is underway.  2. PATHOGENESIS STUDIES AND EPIDEMIOLOGICAL STUDIES: Sentinel epidemiological and clinical studies have shown the emergence of extensively drug resistant TB. Several autopsy and molecular studies of adults and children are ongoing.  3. RESEARCH INTO THE EPIDEMIOLOGY, DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF KILLER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS ESP TB, TB/HIV AND MERS-COV: Laboratory and translational clinical research on longitudinal cohorts of patients is leading to development and evaluation of rapid diagnostics (urine, sputum and blood based) and biomarkers for diagnosis, response to treatment, cure and relapse. Novel biomarkers of cytokine ratios, urine and filter paper based TB diagnostics tests have been developed and current work focusses on development of new and novel rapid TB diagnostic technology, in inpatient settings in paediatric and adult wards.


1.TB IN LONDON: Professor Zumla pioneered The London TB Link R&D Project at a time when TB was thought not to be a problem in London.  2.DEVELOPMENT OF RAPID DIAGNOSTIC TESTS FOR SEPSIS: Professor Zumla currently leads as PI several clinical translational TB projects including a 6 million euros EU-FW7 project on development of rapid diagnostic platforms for range respiratory tract pathogens linking industrial partners from France and Finland with hospitals in the UK and France.

Host-Directed Therapies

The current status quo of the lengthy treatment duration and poor treatment outcomes associated with MDR/XDR-TB, and those with co-morbidity of TB with HIV and NCDs, in sub-Saharan Africa is unacceptable. New innovations for shortening duration of therapy, improving treatment outcomes, preventing relapse, reducing drug resistance, and preventing long term lung damage, are urgently required. The TB drug pipeline remains sparse [4,6]. A broad of range of Host Directed Therapies (HDT) now provide hope for improving treatment outcomes and reducing duration of therapy. These require evaluation in randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials (RCTs) as adjuncts to current TB treatment regimens.

Read more about the Host-Directed Therapies TB Clinical Trials Network here



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