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Grantees Profile

Violet Kayamba

Country (Nationality)


Grantee Title

Project: Gastric cancer in Zambia: A comprehensive evaluation of epidemiology and mechanisms of carcinogenesis

Grantee Description

Research area:

Gastrointestinal cancers

Host Organisation & country:

University of Zambia School of Medicine, Zambia


Cancer of the stomach continues to cause many deaths in Africa in due to limited resources for early case detection of its major causative infections. Dr Kayamba’s research will investigate the major cause of cancer of the stomach in Africa. The research will also involve testing a new diagnostic tool which is designed for use in low resource settings.

Grantee Description

Dr Violet Kayamba is a senior lecturer at the University of Zambia School of Medicine, and she conducts her research with the Tropical Gastroenterology and Nutrition Group (TROPGAN). She obtained her PhD in 2019 in medical and health sciences incl Neurosciences. Her main research interest is in upper gastrointestinal cancers and as an early career researcher, she has published several peer reviewed original articles highlighting different facets of these cancers in Zambia.

Dr Violet’s aim is to mentor a cohort of young researchers who will subsequently contribute to the growth of high standard research outputs.

Project: Gastric cancer in Zambia: A comprehensive evaluation of epidemiology and mechanisms of carcinogenesis

Gastric cancer (GC) is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality, but there is an uncertainty surrounding it, designated as the African Enigma (AE). Proposed 30 years ago, the enigma suggested that GC incidence in Africa was low despite a high prevalence of its main risk factor, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. There are controversies surrounding the AE with some scientists labelling it as a medical myth while others believing it to be accurate. If it is true, then H. pylori and its African human host have co-adapted to commensalism. However, if it is an artefact of inadequate data, it needs to be disproved.

The project will determine H. pylori prevalence across Zambia using archival blood samples collected from a population-based survey, and estimate GC prevalence in an unprecedented way so as to determine if the AE is an illusion. To provide further insights into possible gastric carcinogenic pathways, microbiome changes related to GC and premalignant lesions will also be studied.

Lastly, the project will involve testing of a novel diagnostic tool, the Sangui-filum (S-filum), a simple tool that can be employed in low resource settings to identify individuals with gastric mucosal lesions that need referral for endoscopy. With this project, Dr Kayamba will build a research team supported by experienced local and international collaborators, simultaneously generating data of international significance in a quest to understand gastric carcinogenesis.