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PhD. Fellowship

The Training & Research Unit of Excellence (TRUE) seeks to recruit and offer an academic fellowship to a competent and dynamic individual who is willing to pursue a PhD. The research areas will be Public Health, Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Nutrition, or Nutritional Epidemiology. The fellowship is under the nutrition and infectious diseases theme at TRUE. The successful candidate will embed his/her PhD research work in an exciting research project in Zomba district, southern Malawi. The PhD fellow’s appointment will be for three years.


Positions: 1 post, based in Blantyre (administrative) and Zomba (fieldwork).


Project description


The project seeks to determine the effectiveness and safety of intravenous iron administration during the third trimester of pregnancy compared with oral iron in improving maternal and infant outcomes.

The overall goal is to inform the implementation of IV iron for anaemic women during pregnancy in Malawi and other Lower Middle-Income Countries.


Qualification requirements


At the minimum, the candidate will have an MPH in public health or MSc in global health or related field from a recognised university. The successful candidate should be proficient in spoken and written English and Chichewa and should have published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The candidate should demonstrate ample experience with collaborative research and work in a multidisciplinary team.


To meet the full requirements for the fellowship position, the applicant must also submit an application for registration with the University of Malawi, College of Medicine’s PhD program.


Admission regulations and registration details are available at



Duties and responsibilities


The PhD Fellow must demonstrate analytical thinking, creativity and critical thinking in the development of independent research ideas and pursuant of targeted academic goals. The Fellow must have good collaborative skills to enable them to function in a multidisciplinary context. He/she will be responsible for providing support for the execution of the project. He/she will support the Principal Investigators/academic supervisors in providing leadership, oversight of the day-to-day study activities, timely reporting and supervision of research personnel, and management of the budget in liaison with PIs/academic supervisor. He/she will contribute scientifically at a doctoral level by demonstrating appropriate leadership in data analysis and manuscript writing. He/she will liaise closely with the principal investigators/academic supervisors locally and internationally and will be required to spend considerable time in the field sites.



  1. Act as a leader in the day-to-day running of study activities, timely reporting and supervision of project personnel, and management of budgetary issues in liaison with Chief Operations Officer (COO).
  2. Integrate closely with team members to develop a thorough understanding 
of relevant study procedures and processes. 

  3. Responsible for participant engagement and recruitment activities. 

  4. Undertake fieldwork in collaboration with the investigators/academic supervisors.
  5. Facilitate transcription and translation and ensure the preservation of high-quality data. 

  6. Ensure data security, including confidentiality and safe backup. 

  7. Ensure ethical conduct of research and support ethics governance, including documenting informed consent and organising the protocol study file. 

  8. Data analysis, including coding, and writing academic articles.
  9. Responsible for organisational, budgetary and logistical tasks. 

  10. Disseminate research findings using other appropriate media.
  11. Make presentations at conferences or exhibit TRUE work at other appropriate events.
  12. Monitoring and communicating progress, maintain work plan and ensure timely of tasks.
  13. Other related duties as assigned from time to time.


Person specification


  1. Demonstrate the capacity for analytical thinking that leads to the development of independent academic ideas.
  2. At least four years of research experience. 

  3. Experience in managing fieldwork or research project(s). 

  4. Experience in presenting research results at national/international 

  5. Sensitivity to cultural differences and the ability to relate to people from a 
variety of backgrounds, including policymakers and community members 

  6. Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  7. Excellent spoken and written English and Chichewa
  8. Excellent organisational and administrative skills, with a high level of attention to detail 

  9. Ability to work in resource-constrained settings and efficient use of resources 

  10. Demonstrated commitment to and enthusiasm for a research career



To apply, please include the following information with your application:

  1. Your contact details and personal data
  2. Your highest degree
  3. Your language skills
  4. Contact details for 2–3 references


Also, please include the following documents:

  1. Cover letter describing:
    1. Why you are interested in the fellowship described in the advertisement.
    2. Why and how you wish to complete the project.
    3. What makes you suitable for the project in question.
  2. CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience and a list of degree projects/theses.
  3. Degree certificates and grades confirming that you meet the general and specific entry requirements (no more than six files)
  4. Letters of recommendation (no more than three files)


TRUE is an equal opportunity research organisation and does not discriminate according to nationality, gender or religion. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.


All interested applicants with the required qualifications and experience should complete their details by the following link:


Closing date is 25 January 2021.


TRUE will acknowledge only short-listed candidates.










































Kennedy’s research interest is in the biology, ecology and behaviour of mosquitoes and other disease vectors. His desire is to see a malaria free world by contributing to the discovery, development and application of tools to reduce the transmission of vector borne diseases. He hold a BSc from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

Kennedy Zembere worked under TRUE as a voluntary entomology research intern for three months (October to December, 2016) and later got a paid internship for an additional three months between February and April, 2017. During his internship, he co-investigated two research sub studies, viz: assessment of the Suna trap for sampling mosquitoes indoors and outdoors (published in the Malaria Journal) and impact of cattle on the resting behaviour of malaria vectors (manuscript submitted for peer-review). Through mentorship from senior researchers within TRUE, Kennedy gained research and communications skills, developed critical thinking and had an opportunity to network with other scientists. During the 2017 College of Medicine research dissemination conference, he presented an abstract on the assessment of the Suna trap for sampling mosquitoes indoors and outdoors and received a second best presenter award. By working with Suna traps, Kennedy has developed an interest in developing and applying novel tools which attract and trap mosquitoes by mimicking human hosts, and hence reduce indoor and outdoor malaria mosquitoes. This approach can potentially complement current mosquito control tools and reduce residual transmission of malaria.

Currently he is a Pre-MSc research intern at Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust under the Wellcome Trust (CORE) training research grant. His main focus is to develop an outdoor sampling mosquito trap, the host decoy trap (HDT), and assess its efficiency in sampling outdoor malaria vectors in Malawi. He is also working towards securing funding for a competitive master’s fellowship.

Kennedy Zembere

Chikondi Chapuma is a medical doctor who completed her a research internship under TRUE. “I have acquired skills in research methods, interdisciplinary thinking, leadership and innovation” She now works as a Clinical Trial Physician.

Dr. Chikondi was an intern at TRUE for 8 months in 2017.

Dr. Chikondi Chapuma

My participation in the project has been worthwhile. The expertise, mentorship, commitment, and team-spirited drive embodied within TRUE goes a long way in shaping research capacity and bridging the knowledge gap while striving towards the desired goal: improving quality of life! I have been diversely motivated, mentored, taught and translated through the multiple disciplines and by every endeavor ranging from community interface, data interaction, laboratory basics, conferencing, publication and leadership. To this day TRUE will always leave an indelible mark as I sojourn towards my realisation of research potential and will remain the home of excellence.

Dr. Anthony was an intern at TRUE for 5 months in 2017. 

Dr. Anthony Emeritus Chirwa MD

Between October 2015 and June 2016, I interned in the Majete Malaria Project (MMP). Specifically, I assisted Dr Alinune Kabaghe (then PhD student) with designing and conducting a health facilities’ assessment survey that assessed the facilities’ preparedness to treat uncomplicated malaria in children. Specific skills acquired included: conceptualising, designing and administering ODK-based questionnaires, data management and analysis and manuscript write-up. As outputs from this internship, I was offered the opportunity to present the findings from the survey at a research dissemination conference and to co-author what would become my first peer-reviewed article. I also used the MMP platform to develop a project idea, with the support of MMP co-investigators, for which I secured 30-month funding for 18-month master’s studies and 18-months research work.

Mphatso was an intern at TRUE for 5 months in 2016. 

Mphatso Phiri

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