Employee Testimonial - Peter D. Crompton, Chief, Malaria Infection Biology and Immunity Section, Division of Intramural Research, NIAID, NIH

Peter Crompton, M.D., M.P.H.

Peter Crompton, M.D., M.P.H.

Credit: NIAID

How would you summarize what you currently do at NIAID?

For over 15 years, my lab has studied the epidemiology, immunology, and parasitology of human malaria through close collaborations in Africa, particularly with colleagues from the University of Bamako in Mali. In recent years, I’ve also collaborated with Robert Seder and colleagues at the Vaccine Research Center to conduct the first clinical trials of anti-malarial monoclonal antibodies in Africa. 

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

My typical day at work is long but rewarding and is generally a mix of conducting clinical trials in Africa and supervising laboratory work at NIAID. I’m currently a principal investigator of several ongoing clinical studies of malaria in Africa. Much of my day is spent designing new clinical studies and managing ongoing studies through conference calls and emails with team members and collaborators. I also mentor students and postdoctoral fellows in my laboratory who conduct malaria immunology and parasitology research that is driven by the clinical data and biospecimens we collect from our studies in Africa. I spend a substantial part of my time analyzing data from field and laboratory-based studies and writing up the results for publication. I travel often to our study sites in Africa and to conferences to present our research. 

How long have you been at NIAID and what was your career path to arrive here?

In 2000, I received my M.D. and M.P.H. degrees from Johns Hopkins, and in 2003, I completed a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2004, I started a fellowship in infectious diseases at NIAID and have been here ever since. I was drawn to NIAID because of my interest in malaria research, and at the time, NIAID was one of the few major centers of malaria research in the U.S. During my fellowship at NIAID, I earned a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 2005, I joined Dr. Susan Pierce’s lab at the Laboratory of Immunogenetics (LIG)/NIAID to study the antibody and B-cell response to malaria, and I initiated field studies in Mali through the DIR/International Centers for Excellence in Research (ICER) program. In 2010, I became a tenure-track investigator focusing on malaria epidemiology, immunology, and parasitology, and in 2016 became a tenured senior investigator and chief of the Malaria Infection Biology and Immunity Section at LIG/DIR.

How would you describe the culture at NIAID?

NIAID is an intellectually stimulating, collaborative, and vibrant scientific community where there is a collective sense that hard work, rigorous science, and teamwork can lead to meaningful progress against infectious diseases. 

Are there any special or unique projects that you are working on?

With our colleagues at the VRC and in Mali and Kenya, we’re conducting the first clinical trials of anti-malarial monoclonal antibodies in Africa, and the early results are encouraging. Malaria kills over half a million children in Africa each year despite the widespread use of currently available countermeasures, so I feel privileged to play a role in the development of a new intervention that has the potential to reduce suffering and save lives. 

What do you like about working at NIAID?

I enjoy working with my brilliant colleagues, mentoring the next generation of scientists, and having the flexibility to guide my own research agenda. I have also been impressed with the tremendous access to cutting-edge research technology and the strong support structure for conducting clinical research internationally.  

What are your future career goals?

In the coming years, I’ll continue investigating malaria epidemiology, immunology, and parasitology to inform the development and implementation of tools to combat malaria. I plan to continue the collaborative work of designing and conducting clinical trials of anti-malarial monoclonal antibodies to expedite their approval and implementation as a public health tool in Africa and other endemic areas. I’m also dedicated to increasing scientific training and research capacity in Africa through programs such as the African Postdoctoral Training Initiative (APTI) that the African Academy of Sciences recently created in partnership with the NIH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Do you have any advice to offer others who might be considering working at NIAID?

If you have the opportunity to work at NIAID, don’t let it pass you by! You’ll find no better place to rapidly translate basic research discoveries into clinical trials. 

Reference to Relevant Program Content

NIAID International Centers for Excellence in Research

NIH Summer Internship Program

African Postdoctoral Training Initiative 

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