18 September 2017

Early career investigator award: Helping Children with Malaria

Since 1999, Sparks (now part of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity Family) has funded a ‘Young Investigator Award’, an annual prize that recognises excellence in child health research. The award is offered to recognise an outstanding medical researchers early on in their academic career.

Mosquito feeding (via http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com)
Malaria is spread through
anopheles mosquito bites

The 2017 award was granted to Dr Chris Moxon, Clinical Lecturer in Paediatrics in the Department of Clinical Infection, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Liverpool. Dr Moxon was recognised for his groundbreaking work on malaria – a disease that claims the lives of half a million children worldwide every year.

Dr Moxon says: “It is a huge honour to win this award – to me and to all the people that I have worked with. It also means a lot to me that RCPCH and Sparks have given me this award based on my work on malaria – a disease of huge global importance for child health, but that we see infrequently here in the UK.”

Severe complications of malaria

Dr Moxon’s work focuses on the most severe complication of malaria – cerebral malaria. This is where the infection affects the brain causing swelling and leading to coma.

Up to a quarter of children with cerebral malaria lose their lives and those children that do survive are often left with significant disability. But this complication doesn’t occur in every child infected with the disease and it’s not clear why.

Dr Moxon is trying to answer this question and find new ways to determine which children will go on to develop brain complications. This will mean treatment can be better tailored to their needs.

Dr Moxon is also interested in why malaria targets the brain and not other organs in the body, and wants to understand the exact mechanisms that lead to the damage in the brain. With this understanding, he hopes to identifynew, more effective, treatments to stop the devastating effects of this disease.  Dr Moxon also hopes his work will help to shed new light on other brain infections and lead to better ways to treat even more conditions.

Honouring excellence

simon_newell
Dr Simon Newell

From 2018, the Sparks Young Investigator Award will be re-named in memory of Dr Simon Newell – a well-renowned and widely respected neonatologist and paediatrician who had a passion for encouraging the next generation of paediatric clinicians and researchers. Simon was connected to Sparks throughout his career, first as a researcher, then as a member of the Medical Advisory Committee, and later as a Trustee. This award has been named in his memory and as recognition of his tremendous contribution to child health research.

Entries are now open for the Dr Simon Newell Early Career Investigator of the Year Award 2018 →