Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams

Senior Research Fellow in Bacterial Pathogenesis and Genomics

Division of Infection and Immunity
University College London

Brenda Anna Kwambana-Adams is a Senior Research Fellow in Bacterial Pathogenesis and Genomics at the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Mucosal Pathogens (DII), Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London. Her research interests are at the interface of pathogen genomics, microbial ecology and epidemiology. Pathogens such as Streptococcus pneumoniae (better known as pneumococcus), Staphylococcus aureus, Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus – GAS) that inhabit the upper airways remain among the leading causes of childhood deaths and disability across sub-Saharan Africa. Her overarching goal is to conduct research aimed at reducing the burden of disease caused by these pathogens. Her approach is to work towards unraveling the mechanisms that modulate the persistent carriage of these respiratory pathogens among young children in high-risk communities, taking into account the interplay with the microbiome, nutritional deficiencies and inflammation. More recently, she has also investigated the links between acute malnutrition, the carriage of enteric pathogens and gut microbial ecology. The bulk of her work has involved conceptualizing and conducting longitudinal field studies, coordinating large multi-center networks and utilizing genomics to understand carriage and disease caused by respiratory pathogens. Enhanced understanding the mechanisms by which pathogens interact with the host, other microbes and the environment will pave the way for the development of innovative approaches to curb the unacceptably high burden of disease caused by respiratory pathogens across the globe.

Brenda is a graduate of one of only seventeen United World Colleges around the globe, the Red Cross Nordic United World College (UWC) in Flekke, Norway. She undertook undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences and Bioethics at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, USA on a prestigious UWC-Davis Scholarship. Thereafter she completed an MSc in Medical Microbiology (Virology) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), London on the highly competitive Leverhulme Scholarship. Brenda’s doctoral studies with the University of Leicester and the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at LSHTM (MRCG @ LSHTM) were on the impact of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) on the respiratory microbial ecology. In 2014, Brenda won the first prestigious MRC-LSHTM West Africa Global Health Research Fellowship in which she studied the links between nutritional deficiencies and pneumococcal carriage in young children. While at MRCG @ LSHTM, Brenda also served as the Deputy Head of the WHO Collaborating Center for New Vaccines Surveillance at MRCG, which supports surveillance of vaccine preventable invasive bacterial diseases across West and Central. During this time, Brenda led several technical missions to provide support during meningitis outbreaks and to strengthen laboratory surveillance of meningitis across Africa’s meningitis belt. Brenda was a guest editor on a published supplement (CID) and contributor to 11 of 15 papers on the impact of PCV in Africa. She also successfully chaired the "Potential MPRU-COVID-19" webinar, where early career investigators pitched and discussed COVID-19 related projects for funding by MPRU.


Links to selected publications:

1. Franklin K, Kwambana-Adams BA, Lessa FC, Soeters HM, Cooper L, et al. 2021. Pneumococcal meningitis outbreaks in Africa, 2000-2018: Systematic literature review and meningitis surveillance database analyses. J Infect Dis 224(Supplement_3):S174-183.

2. Kwambana-Adams BA, Cohen AL, Hampton L, Nhantumbo AA, Heyderman RS, et al. 2021. Toward establishing integrated, comprehensive, and sustainable meningitis surveillance in Africa to better inform vaccination strategies. J Infect Dis 224(Supplement_3):S299-306.

3. Senghore M, Tientcheu PE, Worwui AK, Jarju S, ... , Kwambana-Adams BA, Antonio M. 2021. Phylogeography and resistome of pneumococcal meningitis in West Africa before and after vaccine introduction. Microb Genom 7(7):000506.