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Grantees Profile

Benjamin Kumwenda

Country (Nationality)


Grantee Title

Project- Investigating the prevalence of Lineage 2A Salmonella in Malawi

Grantee Description

Benjamin Kumwenda is a Malawian and a Lecturer in Bioinformatics at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine. He holds a BSc Degree in Computer Sciences from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College obtained in 2001. He also has an Honors Degree in Computer Sciences and an MSc Degree in Computer Sciences obtained in 2006 and 2008 respectively from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He graduated with a PhD in Bioinformatics from University of Pretoria in April 2014 funded by RISE. Since then, he has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust from 2014 to 2015 funded by the H3Africa Bioinformatics Network (H3BioNet). In 2016, he was awarded the UK’s Medical Research Council African Research Excellence Fund (AREF) Postdoctoral Fellowship and was based at the University of Liverpool, Institute of Integrative Biology in Hinton Lab.

He is also an awardee of the RISE Graduate Competitive fund through which he established the Bioinformatics research team and an MSc in Bioinformatics at the College of Medicine in Malawi. He currently heads the Biomedical Sciences Department at the College of Medicine in Blantyre Malawi. His research interests are in the pathogenesis of Salmonella and understanding drug resistance in human pathogens.

Project- Investigating the prevalence of Lineage 2A Salmonella in Malawi

A novel type of Salmonella has evolved in Africa, and is now causing a serious epidemic responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. The key pathogen is a bacterium known as Salmonella Typhimurium ST313. Genomic analyses have revealed that the multidrug-resistant Salmonella isolates have evolved into distinct genetic lineages that have only been seen in sub-Saharan Africa. First, Lineage 1 was responsible for invasive Non-Typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS) disease. Then, Lineage 2 replaced Lineage 1 in about 2002, and is causing a more serious disease associated with increased antibiotic resistance. We have evidence that a new lineage (2A) emerged in Africa in 2006, and is now responsible for high levels of infections. However, we know very little about Lineage 2A, and this work investigates why Lineage 2A is becoming more prevalent among patients in Malawi.