Dr Tom Peto

Epidemiologist, Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit

I am an epidemiologist and since 2012 I have been working at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), in Bangkok, Thailand. I am a member of the Malaria and Critical Illness group and we collaborate with partners across Southeast Asia to conduct clinical trials to evaluate malaria treatment and elimination strategies and track the changing epidemiology of malaria. The studies we work on cover new treatment therapies, prevalence surveys, drug resistance, and approaches such as mass drug administration to interrupt transmission, and antimalarial prophylaxis to protect high risk groups such as forest workers. I am currently the clinical trial coordinator for the Triple Artemisinin Combination Therapy Cambodia-Vietnam (TACT-CV), evaluating a new treatment for multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria.

As malaria incidence declines in Southeast Asia, our unit is increasingly interested in the correct diagnosis and treatment of non-malarial causes of fever. We are exploring wider roles for village health workers and the feasibility of deploying novel rapid diagnostic tests in remote areas. Nested within a new regional network, I lead a project which will conduct verbal autopsies in remote villages in South and Southeast Asia. We hope this will help us better understand the circumstances and possible causes of deaths that occur outside of health facilities, and from this to identify potential interventions that might avert these deaths.

I worked for 5 years in Tanzania on a World Health Organization trial to determine whether artesunate suppositories given by community health workers can prevent children dying from severe malaria. I then studied a master’s degree in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Following this I was supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC) for doctoral studies at LSHTM to evaluate the long-term efficacy and effectiveness of infant hepatitis B vaccination, and I was based for 2 years at the MRC Laboratories in The Gambia.