Dr Kevin Marsh is a prominent figure in the field of tropical medicine, and his career has been defined by a passion for improving health outcomes in Africa through research and scientific leadership. He began his journey in medicine at the University of Liverpool, where he obtained his degree in 1978. It was here that he first became aware of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), and was drawn to its outstanding reputation and the quality of the teaching and events held there.
After graduating from Liverpool, Dr Marsh undertook rotations in medicine before studying for the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) at LSTM in 1981, which he describes as a formative experience that was instrumental in shaping his future career. He began his research career at the Medical Research Council Unit in the Gambia in 1982, where he worked on the immunology of malaria. It was during this time that he developed a fascination with the disease and its impact on communities in Africa.
Driven by a desire to make a difference, Dr Marsh established a series of research projects on malaria in Kilifi on the Kenyan coast in 1989. Over time, these projects grew into the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme, an international program with around 800 staff that focuses on all aspects of health in East Africa. Dr Marsh directed the program until August 2014.
Throughout his career, Dr Marsh has demonstrated a commitment to developing and strengthening research capacity and scientific leadership in Africa. He has sponsored or supervised over 40 research fellows and doctoral students, four of whom have won the Royal Society Pfizer prize for research in Africa. From 2014 he played a leading role in the development of a new platform for supporting science in Africa, initially at the African Academy of Sciences and subsequently at the Science For Africa Foundation. He co-directs the Africa Oxford Initiative at Oxford University, where he is a professor of tropical medicine.
In recognition of his contributions to medicine and African development, Dr Marsh has received numerous awards, including the Prince Mahidol prize for medicine in 2010 and the Al Sumait prize for development in Africa in 2016. He is a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences, and the World Academy of Sciences. In addition, he was awarded the Mary Kingsley medal by LSTM in 2015 for his contributions to the field of tropical medicine.
When asked about his proudest achievements, Dr Marsh highlights his contributions to our understanding of how humans become immune to malaria. However, he is perhaps most proud of his role in founding and shaping the growth of the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme and the research centre in Kilifi, Kenya. He has been able to play a critical role in contributing to the career development of many outstanding researchers in Africa and in shifting the centre of gravity for research in Africa through his work with the African Academy of Sciences and with the Science for Africa foundation.
Dr Marsh's journey in medicine is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when a passion for knowledge is combined with a deep sense of purpose and a commitment to making a difference in the world. His work has had a profound impact on the field of tropical medicine, and his legacy will continue to inspire generations of researchers and scientists to come.