Nicola has recently relocated from Malawi where she established the social science programme and ran the Behaviour and Health Research Group at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme. She moved to LSTM in November 2010 and also holds honorary positions at the University of Liverpool and the College of Medicine, University of Malawi.
PhD Medical Anthropology (2009, University of Glasgow MRC SPHSU)
MSc Social Anthropology (1997, University College, London)
BA (Hons) French with Anthropology (1994, University College London)
Nicola has worked extensively across sub-Saharan Africa where she has lived for the past 20 years, working with the Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and LSHTM before joining LSTM and MLW.
She held a Wellcome Trust Research fellowship in Ethics and Society focused on the unintended consequences and social impacts of health technologies (HIV self-testing) and leads work both as an anthropologist exploring the processes and impacts of global public health practice and a pragmatic social scientist working within the discipline of global health to promote engagement with health seeking and improved health behaviours. Nicola is committed to strengthening and supporting international global health research driven by Southern partners and has supported the career development of over 20 trainees from junior to postdoctoral fellowships.
She currently leads the Malawi Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme Health Utilization Study as a national impact evaluation, working closely with the Ministry of Health in Malawi, the WHO and PATH and the Global Health Bioethics Network for Malawi as part of a large Wellcome Trust Strategic Award to build capacity in ethics and engagement research across Africa and Asia Programmes. Her recent work on improving pathways to care for severe illness in children funded through the Scottish Government and Meningitis Research Foundation has influenced policy implementation for emergency care at primary level in Malawi.
She has recently completed work as Malawi Principal Investigator for the STAR Consortium taking the lead on work introducing and evaluating HIV self-testing within key populations and monitoring social harms. She has been involved in a number of expert panels and technical working groups for WHO and others, is an editorial board member of BMC Public Health journal and an Academic Advisor for the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.
Specific current research projects include
Principal Investigator on the Health Utilization Study for Malawi with the Ministry of Health, PATH and WHO exploring the impact of introducing the RTS,S malaria vaccine into the expanded programme of immunization strategy including behavioural impact and acceptability.
Co-PI on Wellcome Trust-funded Strategic Award: Global Health Bioethics Network with Professor Mike Parker at the University of Oxford and partners in Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya and Malawi. Work under this grant includes research on optimising community engagement using participatory methods, ethical assessments of the concept of ancillary care in Malawi, risks and responsibilities of research participants, informed consent optimisation in emergency and non-emergency settings, improving data collection and fieldworker practice, ethics of secondary data use in low resource settings.
Co-PI on NIHR-funded Global Health Research Group (led by Professor Tom Solomon): Brain Infections Global with University of Liverpool, University of Warwick and research groups in India, Brazil and Malawi leading work on patient and sample journey modelling for intervention development and evaluation
Co-PI on MRC-funded projects: APT-Sepsis and FAST-M Plus with University of Liverpool (Professor David Lissauer) to develop interventions to improve management of maternal sepsis in Malawi leading work on behaviour change implementation and process evaluation
Co-Investigator and Malawi lead for the Wellcome Trust-funded AMETHIST Collaborative Award (led by Professor Frances Cowan) to optimise differentiated HIV prevention and care among sex workers in southern Africa in order to support virtual elimination of infectious HIV among sex workers in the region
Part of STAR multi-country consortium to explore scale-up of HIV self-testing (With Professors Miriam Taegtmeyer and Frances Cowan)
Internal Advisory Group member for the DfID-funded LIGHT Consortium on the development of more gender-sensitive approaches in access to quality care for TB in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and the UK
Part of the Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling (MITS) Acceptability group working with the MITS Alliance, University of Oxford and University of Washington, Seattle to optimise and explore acceptability of minimal autopsy for child deaths in low resource settings.
Covid-19 research projects include work with WHO and the BI Global group to understand risk perceptions amongst health care workers and a CEIDR-Liverpool funded study to explore community response and risk perceptions of Covid-19 in Malawi.
Blessings Kapumba (2019 to date): The Social and Ethical Implications of Data-Prompted Ancillary Care in Southern Africa
Jennifor Trainor (2019 to date): The meaning of pre-term birth among childbearing women in Malawi
Mtisunge Gondwe (2019 to date): Strengthening integration of monitoring and evaluation systems for neonatal care at community, primary and tertiary level facilities in Malawi.
Wezzie Lora (2016 to 2020): Understanding vulnerability and empowerment through engagement with biomedical HIV prevention technologies in female sex workers in Malawi
Jane Ardrey (2014 to 2019): ‘An advanced cookstove intervention to prevent pneumonia in children under 5 years old in Malawi: a qualitative perspective’
Deborah Nyirenda (2014 to 2018): An investigation of the relevance of community engagement in medical research
Moses Kumwenda (2013 to 2017): Consequences for couples testing for HIV on partnership dynamics and linkages into care in Blantyre, Malawi
Eleanor MacPherson (2011 to 2014): Understanding gender power relations, transactional sex and HIV in fishing communities in Southern Malawi
Other relevant expertise, professional memberships etc
- Academic Adviser: Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (2020 to date)
- WHO: HQ/KPP Key Populations & Innovative Prevention Expert Review Committee
- MITS Alliance: International Technical Working Group International Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling (MITS) Alliance for Social Sciences
- WHO: HIV Self-Testing Technical Working Group to develop the strategic framework for HIV self-testing in Africa and International Guidelines
- Editorial board member for BMC Public Health
- LSTM Ethics Committee member
- College of Medicine Ethics Committee Expert Adviser
- Honorary positions at University of Liverpool and College of Medicine, University of Malawi