The challenge: Meningitis, pneumonia and malaria – all dictated by seasonal climate – kill millions of children in the developing world each year.
The work: Malaria is widespread during the rainy season. Greenwood demonstrated the value of insecticide-coated bed nets and drug therapy in preventing malaria. Pneumonia and meningitis are most prevalent during the dry season. Greenwood developed and tested two groups of vaccines against these infections, which have been highly effective in saving children’s lives.
Why it matters: Dr. Greenwood has been a tireless advocate of children’s health in developing countries by battling the spread of disease and training post-doctoral scientists in Africa.
Brian Greenwood studied medicine at Cambridge (1962) followed by three years in Western Nigeria at University College Hospital, Ibadan. After further training in clinical immunology in Britain, he returned to Nigeria (1970) to help establish a new medical school at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. There he continued his research in malaria and meningococcal disease.
Greenwood spent 15 years directing the UK Medical Research Council Laboratories in The Gambia (1980-95). He helped to establish a multi-disciplinary research program focused on the most prevalent infectious diseases: malaria, pneumonia, measles, meningitis, hepatitis and HIV2. Greenwood demonstrated the efficacy of insecticide-treated bed nets in preventing malaria deaths in children, and demonstrated the impact of Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 1996 Dr. Greenwood joined the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine where he is now Manson Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine. He directed the Gates Malaria Partnership (2001-09) and, in 2008, became director of the Malaria Capacity Development Consortium, which supports malaria training-programs in five Sub-Saharan universities. He is also director of a consortium that studies the epidemiology of meningococcal infection in Africa prior to the introduction of a new conjugate vaccine.