MEI strengthens presence in southern Africa, director Roly Gosling now based in Windhoek, Namibia

The Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Global Health Group is expanding its presence in southern Africa. Beginning this month, Professor Roly Gosling, Director of the UCSF Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI), will be based in Windhoek, Namibia. In Windhoek, Professor Gosling is strategically located at the core of MEI’s malaria elimination work in southern Africa, and will provide direct support to key partners in the region.

The MEI implements operational research in southern Africa by testing, evaluating, and rolling out interventions that are more tailored, efficient, and effective for surveillance and targeted response in elimination settings. Specifically, MEI’s operational research in southern Africa focuses on identifying and treating malaria in high-risk populations, testing new highly sensitive diagnostics in low-transmission settings, and testing the integration of evidence-based parasite and vector strategies. Says MEI Deputy Director Allison Phillips, “Many countries in southern Africa are at the brink of elimination, but have experienced recent outbreaks. Having Gosling based in southern Africa will strengthen the MEI’s ability to support national malaria programs in the region, and will reinforce our ongoing projects in the region.”

Gosling will collaborate with the national malaria program of Namibia, the University of Namibia and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and the Elimination 8— a coordinated, eight-country effort to achieve malaria elimination in four countries in southern Africa (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland) by 2020 and pave the way for progressive elimination in four additional countries (Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) by 2030. Gosling will also increase his presence in Geneva, and with other partners in Europe. Gosling will join two other MEI team members currently based in the Windhoek location – Dr. Cara Smith Gueye, MEI Associate Director, Namibia Country Program and Dr. Henry Ntuku, MEI Postdoctoral Fellow, Operational Research.

“Great eliminators in history, like Fred Soper, Bill Foege, and Peter Roeder, all became leaders in elimination by being field-based,” Gosling said. “I am fully committed to eliminating malaria and feel that it’s time to get back in the field. I look forward to supporting national elimination efforts, and guiding the MEI with a first-hand appreciation of the challenges and gaps that low-transmission countries are facing.”

The MEI will continue under San Francisco-based leadership from Allison Phillips and Sir Richard Feachem, and the MEI will recruit a San Francisco-based MEI Co-Director to partner with Gosling in guiding the MEI in accelerating progress to elimination and eradication. Gosling will be handing over leadership of the MEI’s work in the Asia Pacific region to Allison Tatarsky, MEI Associate Director of Vector Control.

Prior to leading the MEI, Gosling worked in West Africa at the Medical Research Council laboratories in The Gambia and spent 7 years working in Tanzania, first as faculty for University College London and later for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Since joining the MEI in 2011, he has helped the team grow from 8 to more than 50 people, with staff based overseas in three countries and projects in many more.