Alimuddin Zumla

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Sir Alimuddin Zumla
Professor Alimuddin Zumla-1.jpg
Born Alimuddin Zumla
(1955-05-15) 15 May 1955 (age 62)
Fort Jameson, Northern Rhodesia
Residence United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Zambia
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Royal Postgraduate Medical School
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Known for Tuberculosis research
Tropical medicine
Infectious diseases
Mass-gathering medicine
Spouse(s) Farzana Bhuta
Scientific career
Fields Medicine
Global health
Institutions University College London
UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Thesis Characterisation of human monoclonal antibodies to phenolic glycolipid -1 from patients with leprosy : and production of their anti-idiotypes (1987)
Doctoral advisors Keith McAdam
David Isenburg

Sir Alimuddin Zumla KBE, PhD, FRCP, FRCPath, FRSB (born 15 May 1955) is a British Zambian professor of infectious diseases and international health at University College London Medical School. He specialises in infectious and tropical diseases, clinical immunology, and internal medicine, with a special interest in HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, and diseases of poverty.[15] He is internationally renowned for his extensive outputs and leadership of infectious/tropical diseases research and capacity development activities.[16]

Early life[edit]

Alimuddin (Ali) Zumla was born in Northern Rhodesia (now Chipata, Eastern Province, Zambia).[17] His parents Haji Ismail and Hajiani Aman Zumla were of Gujarati Indian origin.[18] He did his early education at the Lotus Primary School and Prince Philip Secondary School (now Kamwala Secondary School) in Lusaka, and his medical training at the University of Zambia's School of Medicine.[19][20]

He turned down a Rhodes Scholarship to remain in Zambia for his first degree because of his firm belief that training in Zambia would give him first-hand experience of important killer infectious diseases.[19][21] In 1980, he moved to London to pursue an MSc in tropical medicine at the University of London.[17] In 1982, he contracted life-threatening tuberculous meningitis, and was told that he would never walk again, but went on to make a remarkable recovery and return to work a year and a half later to a star-studded career despite disabling and painful neurological sequelae resulting from his meningitis.[19]

He went on to pursue doctoral studies on leprosy human monoclonal antibodies at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, where his 1987 dissertation (advised by Keith McAdam) merited him the Alan Woodruff Medal.[17][22][23]


Following his graduation, Zumla spent a year at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine gaining the MSc degree in Clinical Tropical Diseases with a distinction and the Murgratroyd Prize. He subsequently worked at The Royal Northern and Royal Free Hospitals under the mentorship of David Geraint James obtaining his Membership of The Royal College of Physicians of London.

After doing a PhD between 1985 and 1987 he worked as infectious diseases registrar and at the Rush Green Regional Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Romford under Dr Ming Yong and Dr Mervyn Medlock. Whilst working at Rush Green Hospital, he received international acclaim for rapidly identifying and notifying the first cases of the 1988 Legionnaires' Diseases outbreak which he traced back to Broadcasting House, BBC, central London(for which he received accolades from Westminster City Council and the Parliamentary Group).

He subsequently spent four years in a senior registrar/honorary lecturer position at the Hammersmith Hospital, Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London under Sir Robert Lechler, and then two years at the University of Texas Center for Infectious Diseases working with Herbert DuPont.[17][22][24] He then returned to his native Zambia to work on AIDS-related opportunistic infections at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka before moving to University College London in 1994.[19][22]

In 2003, there were media reports about a paper of Zumla's in The Lancet discussing a new test developed by a team he led for monitoring CD4 immune cell counts based on dried blood samples.[25] Such counts are used in monitoring AIDS patients taking antiretroviral drug treatments; Zumla's subsequent work has led to development and evaluation of a range of rapid, cheap and more accessible diagnostic tests for TB and respiratory infections for use on patients in developing countries.[26][27]

Professor Alimuddin Zumla was the guest editor of the Lancet TB Series which addressed key issues around TB treatment and diagnosis.The launch was held at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva on 18 May 2010.[28] As of 2011, Zumla is the director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases and International Health at University College London Medical School, as well as a consultant in infectious diseases at University College Hospital. His current research interests include tuberculosis (particularly drug clinical trials, biomarkers, MDR-TB and TB in London), HIV/AIDS, tropical diseases, respiratory infections (and rapid diagnostics thereof), endocarditis, biomarkers, and transrenal DNA.[29]

Zumla's work focuses on improving global health, especially for disadvantaged populations, with an emphasis on assisting poorer and disadvantaged peoples of the world. He established and directs a multi-country collaboration with several African, Middle Eastern, European and United States institutions on collaborative research and training program on TB and HIV/AIDS.[16][30] During the past two decades Zumla and his collaborators have set up research and training programs in Africa, focusing attention on development of local infrastructure and capacity development.[31] Several of his doctoral students now occupy academic positions in institutions in Africa.[17]

Zumla has established north-south partnerships for TB research. His collaborations now span five countries in Europe and 10 in sub-Saharan Africa, where he leads several multi-country research projects. His team's research findings have contributed to the development of WHO's management guidelines on treatment and prevention of TB and TB/HIV, and to improvements in the care of patients worldwide.[32]

In 2014, together with colleagues from Public Health England, World Health Organization, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Middle East, Zumla co-led The Lancet series on Mass Gatherings Medicine which was launched at the World Health Assembly of Ministers of Health in Geneva. This was a Series of reports about different mass gatherings: the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; the 2012 European Football Championship finals, hosted jointly by Poland and Ukraine; and Hajj 2012 and Hajj 2013. These reports set out the planning and surveillance systems used to monitor public health risks, and describe the public health experiences and lessons learnt for the planning of future events.[33]

Zumla played a lead role in defining the etiology, epidemiology, mode of transmission of the new lethal virus, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.[34][35]

He has several honorary and visiting professorships from European and African universities, and memberships of numerous international committees and advisory expert groups. He is guest editor and editorial board member of several major medical journals.[36]

Professor Zumla is a member of the Court of Governors of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is Vice Chair of the Strategic Advisory Group to the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership [37]

On 7 April 2015 at an inaugural meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, Professor Zumla and Professor Markus Maeurer from Karolinska Institutet Sweden led and established a new initiative, the Host-Directed Therapies Network (HDT-NET) consortium of 64 global partners to tackle global infectious diseases threats of multi-drug resistant TB and antimicrobial resistance.[38]


Since his appointment at UCL in 1994, Zumla has received the Weber Parkes Trust Medal and Prize from the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1999;[22] the Albert Chalmers Medal from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygienein 2002; the Windrush Award for Academic Achievement in 2003; and the 2005 Professional of the year by the "Muslim News" The Muslim News2005 Awards for Excellence.[39] In 2011 and 2012, Zumla received four more major international prizes for his work combating tuberculosis, TB/HIV/AIDS, and other respiratory infectious diseases. These recent spate of awards in include: the UK India International Foundation Science Award (2011); the University of Amsterdam Spinoza Leerstoel award (2011); and the World Health Organisation (WHO) STOP TB Partnership Kochon Prize and Medal (2011) and the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden 2012 Annual Science Prize (2012) and honorary doctorate (2016). [3] [32]

In October 2012, Zumla was awarded the highest Zambian civilian award by then Zambian president Michael Sata for his outstanding contributions to infectious diseases research in sub-Saharan Africa, development of Zambia's health sector, and training of numerous health personnel. The award, The Grand Commander of the Order of Distinguished Services First Division, was bestowed on Zumla on the 48th anniversary of Zambia's Independence.[40] In 2016 a research consortium led by Zumla won the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership prize presented by Zambian President Edgar Lungu.[41] In 2017 Zumla was appointed as National Institute for Health Research a senior investigator.[42]

He was awarded a Knighthood in the 2017 Queens Birthday Honours list for services to public health and protection from infectious disease.[43]


"One does not need a Rolls Royce to make a journey – it is the careful and committed driver who is important"
"Everyone should hold hands together and move forward in the fight against killer infectious diseases"

Selected works[edit]

Zumla has authored 406 publications and edited/published 19 medical textbooks, three of which are globally acknowledged classics: Manson's Tropical Diseases 21st and 22nd editions, Tuberculosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Reference which involves 156 global TB experts writing 104 chapters on all aspects of paediatric and adult TB, and Granulomatous Disorders co-edited with D. G. James.[44]


  • Zumla, Alimuddin; Johnson, Margaret A.; Miller, Robert (1997), AIDS and respiratory medicine, Chapman & Hall Medical, ISBN 978-0-412-60140-8 
  • Zumla, Alimuddin; Schaaf, H. Simon (2009), Tuberculosis: An Issue of Clinics in Chest Medicine, Elsevier – Health Sciences Division, ISBN 978-1-4377-1804-1 
  • Zumla, Alimuddin, Behrens, Ronald H., Memish, Ziad A., Travel Medicine, An Issue of Infectious Disease Clinics (1st ed.), Philadelphia, PA, ISBN 9781455748983, OCLC 815361562 
  • H. Simon Schaaf and Alimuddin Zumla, Tuberculosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Reference

Edited works[edit]

  • Cook, Gordon C; Zumla, Alimuddin, eds. (2008), Manson's Tropical Diseases (22nd ed.), London: Elsevier Harcourt Brace Publishing Group, ISBN 978-1-4160-4470-3 
  • Schaaf, H. Simon; Zumla, Alimuddin, eds. (2009), Tuberculosis: a comprehensive clinical reference, Saunders/Elsevier, ISBN 978-1-4160-3988-4 

Journal papers[edit]

  • McCloskey, B.; Endericks, T.; Catchpole, M.; Zambon, M.; McLauchlin, J.; Shetty, N.; Manuel, R.; Turbitt, D.; Smith, G.; Crook, P.; Severi, E.; Jones, J.; Ibbotson, S.; Marshall, R.; Smallwood, C. A. H.; Isla, N.; Memish, Z. A.; Al-Rabeeah, A. A.; Barbeschi, M.; Heymann, D. L.; Zumla, A. (2014). "London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Public health surveillance and epidemiology". The Lancet. 383 (9934): 2083–2089. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62342-9. 
  • Zumla A., Raviglione M., Hafner R., Fordham, von Reyn C. (2013). "Tuberculosis". New England Journal of Medicine. 368 (8): 745–755. PMID 23425167. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1200894. 
  • Nunn, Andrew J.; Mwaba, Peter B.; Chintu, Chifumbe; Crook, Angela M.; Darbyshire, Janet H.; Ahmed, Yusuf; Zumla, Alimuddin I. (April 2011), "Randomised, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate co-trimoxazole to reduce mortality and morbidity in HIV-infected post-natal women in Zambia (TOPAZ)", Tropical Medicine & International Health, 16 (4): 518–526, doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2011.02731.x 
  • Griffiths, C.; Sturdy, P.; Brewin, P.; Bothamley, G.; Eldridge, S.; Martineau, A.; MacDonald, M.; Ramsay, J.; Tibrewal, S.; Levi, S.; Zumla, A.; Feder, G. (2007). "Educational outreach to promote screening for tuberculosis in primary care: A cluster randomised controlled trial". The Lancet. 369 (9572): 1528–34. PMID 17482983. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60707-7. 
  • Perkins, M. D.; Roscigno, G.; Zumla, A. (2006), "Progress towards improved tuberculosis diagnostics for developing countries", The Lancet, 367 (9514): 942–3, PMID 16546544, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68386-4 
  • Zumla, A; Mullan, Z (2006), "Turning the tide against tuberculosis", The Lancet, 367 (9514): 877–8, PMID 16546520, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68355-4 
  • Chintu, C.; Bhat, G. J.; Walker, A. S.; Mulenga, V.; Sinyinza, F.; Lishimpi, K.; Farrelly, L.; Kaganson, N.; Zumla, A.; Gillespie, S. H.; Nunn, A. J.; Gibb, D. M. (2004). "Co-trimoxazole as prophylaxis against opportunistic infections in HIV-infected Zambian children (CHAP): A double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial". The Lancet. 364 (9448): 1865–71. PMID 15555666. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17442-4. 
  • Mwaba, P.; Cassol, S.; Pilon, R.; Chintu, C.; Janes, M.; Nunn, A.; Zumla, A. (2003), "Use of dried whole blood spots to measure CD4+ lymphocyte counts in HIV-1-infected patients", The Lancet, 362 (9394): 1459–60, PMID 14602443, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14693-4 
  • Mwaba, P.; Cassol, S.; Nunn, A.; Pilon, R.; Chintu, C.; Janes, M.; Zumla, A. (2003), "Whole blood versus plasma spots for measurement of HIV-1 viral load in HIV-infected African patients", The Lancet, 362 (9401): 2067–8, PMID 14697808, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)15103-3 
  • Chintu, C.; Mudenda, V.; Lucas, S.; Nunn, A.; Lishimpi, K.; Maswahu, D.; Kasolo, F.; Mwaba, P.; Bhat, G.; Terunuma, H.; Zumla, A. (2002), "Lung diseases at necropsy in African children dying from respiratory illnesses: a descriptive necropsy study", The Lancet, 360 (9338): 985–90, PMID 12383668, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)11082-8 
  • Mwinga, A.; Nunn, A.; Ngwira, B.; Chintu, C.; Warndorff, D.; Fine, P.; Darbyshire, J.; Zumla, A. (2002), "Mycobacterium vaccae (SRL172) immunotherapy as an adjunct to standard antituberculosis treatment in HIV-infected adults with pulmonary tuberculosis: a randomised placebo-controlled trial", The Lancet, 360 (9339): 1050–5, PMID 12383985, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)11141-X 


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