The first of its kind in the world, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been instrumental in positioning the City of Liverpool and the North West of England at the forefront of tropical medicine research since its inception almost 125 years ago – a time when Liverpool was one of the world’s most prominent port cities, trading with overseas regions including Western and Southern Africa.
Back home, numbers of sailors admitted to hospital with ‘tropical diseases’ increased drastically so, in 1898, Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, a local shipping magnate, donated £350 annually for three years to establish a dedicated School of Tropical Medicine. His support continued after his death when a gift in his Will supported a purpose-built facility in Pembroke Place. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine was born in recognition of the threats that tropical diseases presented to communities and businesses.
Fast forward to modern day and LSTM’s work is as important today, if not more so, as it was almost 125 years ago. For decades, LSTM has worked in some of the world’s most fragile health systems building and understanding of the causes and transmission of disease, developing new treatments and interventions, and delivering solutions to improve healthcare.
For example, our research has led to the development of a successful approach to the rapid scale-up of HIV testing and counselling services in high prevalence countries, a vital component of the global HIV response. Our partnership work with Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Research Programme saw the trial of a modern rotavirus vaccine in Africa cut infant deaths from diarrhoeal disease in Malawi by 39%, leading to a global vaccine recommendation by WHO. In partnership with WHO, we have developed a smartphone app to help health workers understand why circa 5.3 million babies each year are stillborn or die in the first month of life.
As experts in infectious diseases this knowledge and experience has never been of such importance, both locally and globally.
As COVID-19 has demonstrated, viruses and other pathogens do not respect geographical boundaries. LSTM is in a unique position to support the efforts to tackle the deadly pandemic, both here in the UK and overseas. Many of our clinically trained staff treating COVID patients in Liverpool’s hospitals and have seen first-hand the devastating effects of this disease. Over the last few months, we have redeployed our facilities and research staff to focus on finding new solutions and strategies, underpinned by a £1m COVID-19 research fund established in partnership with the University of Liverpool.
More recently, LSTM was selected as a site for the Oxford vaccine trial; a decision which indicates the esteem in which LSTM’s respiratory and clinical trials expertise is held. This is potentially one of the most important clinical trials for public health in recent history and we are very proud that LSTM will be part of it.
Not forgetting the challenge that COVID poses to our partners overseas, in April, LSTM launched the first phase of a fundraising appeal for the COVID-19 Response and Resilience Fund to raise vital funds for our COVID research here in the UK and to buy life-saving equipment for our front-line staff based in Malawi, one of the world most fragile health systems.
As we move out of the immediate crisis and start to see the number of deaths and new cases in the UK fall people may feel that the danger has largely passed. Sadly, this is not true. The World Health Organization lists many diseases which have the potential to cause public health emergencies, but for which there are currently no effective drugs and/ or vaccines. LSTM is uniquely placed to play a leading role in understanding what we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and how we create greater resilience to prevent similar devastating outbreaks in the future.
We now desperately need to shift our attention to future resilience, making sure we are better prepared for future pandemics and to further our research into COVID-19. Just as LSTM’s very foundation was through the collective support of the city’s industrialists, we are now appealing for your support again, 121 years later.
We are now looking to Liverpool’s business community/sector to support our next round of funding by joining our COVID Funders’ Circle and are looking for up to ten businesses to support us at the £25,000 level.
In becoming a member of the COVID Funders’ Circle, we would recognise your status as key partners in supporting the delivery of the next stage of research. This will include the creation of specific opportunities for engagement with key researchers and LSTM more widely.
We would love an opportunity to talk to you. As professional advisors, you may have clients who would be interested in supporting this vital initiative that provides a unique opportunity to contribute to sustaining the next 125 years of global health research, here in Liverpool.
For more information please contact Karen Brady, Director of Fundraising by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 7714 481656.