Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski joins the Fellowship of the Royal Society

Head of Sanger’s Parasites and Microbes Programme elected Fellow of the Royal Society

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Today’s announcement (9 May 2018) recognises Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski’s pioneering work on malaria, and particularly the use of genomic epidemiology to understand the evolutionary arms race that is going on between human, parasite and mosquito populations in Africa and other tropical regions of the world.

An important part of Dominic’s work has been to build capacity for genetic research in the developing world, and to support researchers and public health agencies in malaria-endemic countries to apply genetic technologies to practical problems in malaria control, such as tackling the spread of drug and insecticide resistance.

Professor Kwiatkowski joins an existing membership of approximately 1600 of the most distinguished scientists from the United Kingdom, other Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland. One of the founding principles of the Royal Society is to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. Previous Fellows include Edward Jenner, who invented vaccination, Sir Joseph Lister, the pioneer of antiseptic surgery, and Sir Robert Ross, who demonstrated that malaria parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes.

“I am honoured to be elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. It is a testimony to the amazing creativity and teamwork that is going on at Sanger and Oxford, and among all our partners in the MalariaGEN network. It is a great privilege to work with colleagues who are so committed to gaining a deep scientific understanding of malaria, not only as a fascinating biological problem, but also as a critical step in reducing the burden of disease in the poorest parts of the world.”

Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski Head of the Parasites and Microbes Programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and Director of the MRC Centre for Genomics and Global Health at Oxford University

After working as a paediatrician in London, Dominic spent several years in West Africa, where malaria causes high levels of childhood mortality. His encounters with the disease spurred him to make severe childhood malaria a major focus of his research over the past 30 years. His clinical research in Africa has led to fundamental discoveries about the molecular mechanisms of the disease process, and why it is that some children die of malaria whereas others tolerate repeated episodes of infection with relatively few ill effects.

He and his team have also developed novel analytical approaches to enable genome-wide association studies in diverse African populations, leading to the recent discovery of a genetic link between host cell receptors for parasite invasion and resistance to severe malaria.

“Professor Kwiatkowski’s election to the Royal Society is richly deserved. Dominic’s career has been characterised by his passionate commitment to tackling malaria, one of the world’s leading causes of child mortality. His studies of the genomes of the human sufferers of the disease, the causative Plasmodium parasites and the mosquito vectors have made a transformative impact on the field and alongside these he has empowered scientists across the globe to apply cutting-edge genomic techniques and share their discoveries through long-lasting collaborative networks.”

Professor Sir Mike Stratton FRS, Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute

In 2005 Dominic founded a data-sharing network, MalariaGEN, which has fostered productive research collaborations in more than 40 malaria-endemic countries, and has become a model for equitable sharing of genetic data and research capacity building in resource-poor settings. Building on these foundations, Dominic has led large international studies to characterise the genomic diversity of parasite and mosquito populations around the world, and to understand the evolutionary biology of drug and insecticide resistance. This work is now being translated into new surveillance tools for malaria control and elimination.

More information

About Fellowship of the Royal Society

New Fellows are elected, by their peers, on the basis of the excellence of their contribution to science.

The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from or living and working in the UK and the Commonwealth. Past Fellows and Foreign Members have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Society’s strategic priorities are:

  • Promoting excellence in science
  • Supporting international collaboration
  • Demonstrating the importance of science to everyone


Selected websites

  • Wellcome Sanger Institute

    The Wellcome Sanger Institute is one of the world’s leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease. To celebrate its 25th year in 2018, the Institute is sequencing 25 new genomes of species in the UK. Find out more at or follow @sangerinstitute

  • Wellcome

    Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.