PROFILE

Professor Mark Nicol

Started at UWA: 2018

Using cutting-edge microbiology to understand human microbial ecosystems and tackle respiratory infections 

Professor Mark Nicol is a medical microbiologist in the Division of Infection and Immunity in the School of Biomedical Sciences. He also holds an honorary appointment at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has a passion for using modern molecular tools to understand complex microbial communities, investigating how imbalances in these communities cause illness and to develop and test better diagnostics for infections, particularly for diseases relating to poverty. 

Specific focus areas of Dr Nicol’s research are the pathogenesis and diagnosis of respiratory infection in children, development, evaluation and implementation of novel diagnostic tests for tuberculosis, the cascade of care for patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis and the role of the microbiome in early childhood development and illness. Professor Nicol has done seminal work on diagnostics for tuberculosis in children and adults, which has provided an evidence base for the new molecular tuberculosis tests used worldwide, and has contributed to many WHO policy recommendations and guidelines. 

Dr Nicol has successfully competed for grants from major international funders, including recent funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust. He is a member of the advisory board for several large biotech companies and grant consortia, and a member of the International Interview Panel for the Wellcome Trust. 

A major emphasis is placed on the development of the next generation of researchers, and many of Dr Nicol's students have received international fellowships as well as awards at scientific meetings.

Qualifications: MB ChB, MMed, FCPath (SA) Micro, DTM&H, PhD.

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Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow, 2008

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Chairperson of the South African Society for Clinical Microbiology, 2009-2013

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NIH Research Consortium Award, 2018

Funding


2017-2022

National Institutes of Health of the USA

  • Centre for Research on the Respiratory Microbiota of African Children (ReMAC)
  • Heather Zar, University of Cape Town, Martin Antonio and Brenda Kwambanda, MRC The Gambia, Chris du Pont, J. Craig Venter Institute 

2017-2021

National Institutes of Health of the USA

  • Validation of Biomarkers of Pediatric TB and further development for use in diagnosis of childhood TB


2017-2020

National Institutes of Health of the USA

  • RePORT International Consortium: Highly sensitive cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification testing for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in children

  • Heather Zar, University of Cape Town, Gerard Cangelosi, University of Washington


2017-2019

Pfizer Investigator Initiated Award

  • Longitudinal nasopharyngeal carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae during the first year of life in a PCV-13-vaccinated birth cohort

  • Felix Dube, University of Cape Town


More grants and publications.

Projects

Dr Nicol’s projects explore the role of the human microbiota in health and disease, with a focus on respiratory tract infections.

  • The Drakenstein Child Health Study: respiratory, breast milk, stool microbiota and child health
  • Center for Research on the Respiratory Microbiota of African Children (ReMAC)
  • Validation of Biomarkers of Pediatric TB and further development for use in diagnosis of childhood TB
  • Highly sensitive cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification testing for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in children
  • Optimising health systems to improve delivery of decentralised care for patients with drug resistant tuberculosis
  • Tuberculosis Collaborating Centre for Child Health
  • BREATHe Trial: To conduct a randomised controlled trial of azithromycin for HIV-infected adolescents with chronic lung disease
  • Evaluation and demonstration studies for novel tuberculosis diagnostics
 

Contact Professor Mark Nicol