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The University of Southampton

Emeritus Professor Marie-Louise Newell MB, MSc, PhD

Professor of Global Health (both in Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Social Sciences)

Emeritus Professor Marie-Louise Newell's photo

Marie-Louise Newell is Professor in Global Health and an infectious diseases Epidemiologist, her research on infections in pregnancy and childhood, in particular HIV, in resource-limited and resource-rich settings underpins her contribution to Health for All, across the Generations

Marie-Louise Newell has a background in Medicine, Demography and Epidemiology; her research has focussed on maternal and child health, particularly infections and transmission from mother-to-child. At the University College London Institute of Child Health, she led a European cohort of HIV-infected pregnant women and their children, and was involved in research in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Between late 2005 and late 2013, for eight years, she was based in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa as Director of the Welcome Trust-funded Africa Centre for Health & Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal where she initiated a broad innovative programme of research addressing the impact of HIV infection at a population, household and individual level. She established a partnership with the SA Department of Health in the Hlabisa sub-district to provide HIV treatment and care, resulting in nearly 30,000 28,500 HIV-infected people initiated on treatment by the time she left in 2013. Research from the Centre has shown that the HIV treatment provided in the public programme resulted in a substantial reduction of adult and child mortality, and has started to have an impact on HIV incidence. She initiated a large Treatment-as-Prevention cluster randomised trial in this rural area to evaluate whether early HIV treatment, immediate on HIV diagnosis rather than at a HIV-progression determined eligibility point, would reduce HIV incidence in the community. However, with success of HIV treatment also comes concern: her interest in infections in pregnant women and their children is now focussing on evaluating the mid- and longer term implications of exposure to infections and treatment for the woman and her child. She reviews for a large number of expert journals, is member of international expert review bodies and was appointed a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 2012 and a Fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2013, and received the prestigious award for her contribution to HIV science from the European AIDS Clinicians Society in 2013. At the University of Southampton she leads the Global Health Research Institute, which brings together research interests and expertise from across the University.



Appointments held

1982-87 Research Fellow, Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

1987-2001 Research Fellow, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Epidemiology, Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology, Institute of Child Health, University College London

2001-13 Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology, Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology, UCL Institute of Child Health

2005 - Professor of Health and Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

2005-2013 Director Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal

2011- Honorary Professor, School of Public Health, WITS, Johannesburg, South Africa

2013- Professor of Global Health, University of Southampton

Research interests

Since 1987 I led multidisciplinary European research in both HIV and HCV, including obstetricians, paediatricians, microbiologists, virologists, social workers, nurses and other health care professionals from more than 40 centres in 11 European countries. I was a founder-member and co-chair of the Ghent initiative which, during the 90’s, addressed research on issues relating to mother to child transmission of HIV, particularly relating to developing countries, by collaborating with key researchers in developing and developed countries to improve methodological and analytical quality and maximising information through meta-analyses. Since my PhD and throughout my career I have been involved with research in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, as exemplified by my work estimating the effect of HIV on child mortality, and with UNAIDS regarding the estimation of the HIV prevalence among children and the number of vertically infected children in need of antiretroviral therapy. This collaboration continues to date, now with a focus on the HIV-exposed, uninfected child. I was an investigator on the Wellcome Trust-funded research in the role of exclusive breastfeeding and postnatal transmission of HIV in the Wellcome Trust funded Africa Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and on a cluster-randomised trial of peer-supported women’s groups in Mchinji, Malawi. My involvement with research in South Africa was further strengthened via the Wellcome Trust-funded Birth to Twenty Cohort in Soweto and Johannesburg, SA. Other international activities included initiation and active participation in meta-analyses, including the NIH-funded individual data meta-analysis of mode of delivery and vertical transmission, which I led on behalf of European contributors. I coordinated the European arm of the PACTG 316 trial to evaluate the addition of Nevirapine in reducing the risk of vertical transmission of HIV-1. I provide formal and informal support to various research groups, including the MRC units in Uganda and The Gambia.

I was appointed Director of the Wellcome Trust Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in Sept 2005, and from January 2006 until November 2013, I was based in South Africa on secondment from University College London (UCL); I was responsible for more than 500 people at its peak. This Centre is a Wellcome Trust-funded research site at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, established in 1998, for research on the impact of HIV infection on the population in this resource-poor area. I initiated a broad innovative programme of research addressing the impact of HIV infection at a population, community, household and individual level. I developed an integrated infrastructure of demographic and socio-economic household surveillance, individual HIV surveillance, linked to virology laboratory services and local HIV treatment and care programmes serving nearly 60,000 HIV infected people, of whom 26,000-odd had been initiated on HIV treatment by the time I left (I obtained extensive funding from PEPFAR/USAID to support the local Department of Health HIV programme). I created a powerful resource from which to derive unique insights into the dynamics of HIV infection in this rural population.

A major contribution from research at the Africa Centre relates to the quantification of the impact of comprehensive antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage to reverse the substantial increase in HIV-related deaths in populations with high HIV prevalence. We showed a significant decline in overall population mortality and HIV-related adult mortality following ART programme roll-out. Our studies showed that all children born to infected women are at increased risk of dying, with the risk associated with maternal death. We show that maternal ART and subsequent survival was a substantially more important contributor to the observed decline in early child mortality than the roll-out of prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes. We also showed a decline in HIV incidence when ART coverage, measured as the proportion of HIV infected adults on antiretroviral therapy, reaches levels of 20% or more. I initiated a cluster-randomised trial, funded by the French ANRS, with additional funding from the German Development Cooperation (GtZ) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate the use of antiretroviral treatment as prevention, in the Hlabisa sub-district, South Africa (2012-2016). Completion is envisaged in 2016.

Upon my return to the UK, now based at the University of Southampton, I am building a Global Health Research Institute, an interdisciplinary environment bringing together the many strong researchers in various Faculties at the University of Southampton. I am taking forward my research on HIV infection in pregnancy, with a recent NIH R01 award to study pregnancy outcome in terms of the immunological environment during pregnancy in HIV infected women who were either on ART already at conception or who are initiated on ART during early pregnancy. This research is taking place in South Africa and provides the basis for a large programme of research on the consequences of ART exposure in fetal and early life for the increasing number of HIV-exposed but uninfected children. I am also involved in developing research application for trials to address the residual transmission from mother-to-child in women who have been on ART since early/mid pregnancy.

Research group

Human Development and Health

Postgraduate supervision

1997 Beatriz Tess
1997 Claire Thorne
2000 Juana Willumsen
2003 Lindsey Gray
2005 Simona Fiore
2005 Susan Cliffe
2006 Claire Hankin
2006 Lucy Pembrey
2007 Deven Patel
2008 Kirsty Little
2008 Kirsty England
2009 Claire Townsend
2011 Sonja Lewiska
2011 Stephen Mepham
2012 Stefania Vergnano
2013 Madeleine Bunders
2013 Kerry Vermaak
2013 James Ndirangu
2013 Portia Mutevedzi
2014 Makandwe Nyirenda
2015 Lorna Benton


Terusha Chetty
Natsayi Chimbindi
Olayinka Obanewa
Patricia Ndugga


National and international responsibilities

I contribute to UK and International funding, advisory and regulatory bodies, including MRC, EDCTP, ANRS, Paediatric Medicines Expert Advisory Group Commission of Human Medicines, Swiss National Science Foundation, UNAIDS/WHO Reference Group on Estimates Models and Projections, NIH, WHO Technical consultations on Infant feeding, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. I am member of the Editorial Board of a number of peer-review journals, including PLoS Medicine, Lancet, AIDS, JAIDS. I participate in the scientific oversight of several trials and cohort studies. I regularly act as PhD or MD examiner, for UK, Swedish, Dutch, French and South African universities. Since 2013, I am external examiner Imperial College MPH.

  • Postgraduate student mentorship
  • Postgraduate student supervision
Emeritus Professor Marie-Louise Newell
Professor Marie-Louise Newell
Room Number: SGH/IDS HDH D08
Telephone: (023) 8121 8692

Room Number : SGH/IDS/HDH/DC003

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