A world-renowned expert in genomics, malaria, and public health, Dominic Kwiatkowski’s ambitious vision brought this community together. We are deeply saddened to share that he passed away in April, 2023 from natural causes at the age of 69.
Among his most influential contributions to the scientific community was the founding of the Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) in 2005. This innovative network was built out of his conviction that genomic data about malaria was more powerful when it could be openly shared.
More than 18 years later, MalariaGEN has grown to include hundreds of partners from dozens of countries across the world. Dominic’s vision lives on and the large, high-quality data resources curated by MalariaGEN remain instrumental in understanding the genetics of malaria parasites, their mosquito vectors, and the susceptibility of humans to this deadly disease.
More than his significant contributions to scientific understanding, Dominic had an immeasurable personal impact on researchers around the world as a mentor and colleague. Below we share a selection of remembrances collected from his collaborators. The full collection of remembrances will be collected and shared with the family. If you would like to contribute, please send images, anecdotes, and stories to memories [at] malariagen.net.
The following obituaries and tributes have also been published:
- An obituary by William Hamilton, his former PhD student
- An obituary in the British Medical Journal by John Illman
- An obituary in the Guardian by science writer Georgina Ferry
- A tribute from Sharon Peacock, Executive Director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium
- An article from St. John's College Oxford, where Dominic was a Professorial Fellow and then Emeritus Fellow
- An obituary from MRC Unit the Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- An obituary from the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford
- An obituary from the Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford
- A tribute from the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN)
"I am so sorry to learn of Dominic’s passing. I was his MSc and DPhil student from 1998-2002 in the days before MalariaGEN. He made a huge impact on me, most importantly he helped me to discover a love for science and the excitement of discovery at a time when I was ready to forsake science. He guided me to the NIH’s Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research where I have been working over the past 15 years and now lead an independent laboratory studying vascular physiology of malaria. He also connected me to colleagues and collaborators some which have become good friends over the years. His unexpected passing is a reminder not to wait to reach out and reconnect with these precious people”
-Hans Ackerman, USA
"His insight and engagement were phenomenal. Time and again he picked up his pen and gave me a private lecture on population genetics. These have shaped me and many others in a big family of African MalariaGEN scientists. We can never thank him enough for lowering and holding the ladder to the stage for us to become who we are today. You will be highly missed, but your legacy's flame will endure long after your candlelight suddenly stops burning."
–Alfred Amambua-Ngwa, The Gambia
"Dominic was and will continue to be a huge inspiration. I won’t forget that he gave me my first opportunity in research as a PhD student in his lab nearly 20 years ago. He believed in me and helped shape my career as he did for many others. What a brilliant mind and kind soul."
– Sarah Auburn, Australia
"We have lost a giant. Thank you, Dominic, for being a mentor to me at the very beginning of my research career"
–Xin Hui Chan, UK
“Dominic was a key determinant during my training at Oxofrd University and has been supporting productive scientific collaboration with many Malians. Well beyond these specific contributions, Dominic played an instrumental part in the history, development, and growth of MalariaGEN, and was a passionate advocate of Africa. I extend all sympathy to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
-Mahamadou Diakite, Mali
"Our enemy, malaria, shouldn't take advantage of the death of Dominic. As a malaria community, we have to strengthen our collaboration much better than it's been before and work hard to realize Dominic's dream as a reality, malaria elimination"
– Lemu Golassa, Ethiopia
"RIP to my PhD supervisor, mentor, teacher, and friend. Dominic gave me a chance and supported me, as he did so many scientists from across the world. He was a visionary with a piercing intellect but also generous and kind, and committed to doing science that benefited the world."
– Will Hamilton, UK
"The loss of Dominic is immeasurable. He has mentored – and I mean really mentored -- hundreds of scientists from all over the world. His vision that malaria genomic research and surveillance are key to elimination continues to snowball and become ever more clearly core to the objective of elimination. Dominic’s vision created a lot of followers who he embraced as equals and who he welcomed to the MalariaGEN family. Science can be so full of people who hold their cards too close to their chests, fearful of having ideas or results stolen. Dominic’s ethos that he built as central to MalariaGEN was scientific community, scientific partnerships, and open data – the latter was a foreign concept to me before I met him; the risks of sharing data openly felt too great. I learned that the benefits of open data far supersede any risk and lead to engaged and interactive communities of scientists working towards a common goal.
I moved to Sanger in 2014 to work alongside Dominic and I have valued every minute I got to spend with him. I was so looking forward to another decade of his friendship, our shared science, and the direction of travel for MalariaGEN that he was committed to bringing to fruition. I really, really loved him. It brings me a speck of solace that this I know he knew. I am grieving deeply for the ending of a profound friendship that should have continued for many years to come. I am grieving for all of you who feel the same. and I am grieving for his family, who he spoke of with the highest pride and praise frequently. Our hearts are broken."
– Mara Lawniczak, UK
"My dear friend, my wise and generous mentor, my guide and inspiration. The world of science has lost a giant; I lost a lot more.
Loving thoughts to Janice, their children and grandchildren, and to all those who, like me, deeply feel the void."
– Olivo Miotto, Thailand
"Having worked for Dominic for over a decade, I have lots of lovely memories. He was always calm, kind and considered he made my work life a pleasure. A couple of my favourites was his birthday, that we weren't allowed to make a fuss about, so the team had a Tea and Cake session with a second hand Scarlectrix - he was over the moon. The other was when we wanted to celebrate his FRS, but he didn't want the spotlight on him. So, we had a Team Away day at the Royal Society. He was the most understated, brilliant and lovely person. I will miss him."
– Claire Nathwani, UK
“I first met Dominic in person in 2013. My first impression of him was that he was a very intelligent, enthusiastic, and a humble person. He was very supportive to us in setting up Plasmodium genomic work in Indonesia. We have gone so far doing this in my country with the help of other scientists from Sanger and Menzies School Darwin. We have published some papers on Plasmodium genomics from Indonesia. Can not thank him enough. Without his continuing support, we would have not been at this stage where we have a much stronger link with other malaria researchers around the world. Thank you Dominic. I will remember your legacy and will continue your spirit of doing this for many more years ahead. May you rest in peace. We certainly miss you.”
– Rintis Noviyanti, Indonesia
"It's clear that Dominic played an instrumental part in the success of COG-UK, which created a vital capability to the UK pandemic response. I will always carry the memory of this exceptional contribution. I will miss him greatly for the generous and wise colleague that he was."
– Sharon Peacock, UK
“Dominic was a force of nature who leaves a wonderful global legacy of talented and empowered young scientists.”
– Chris Plowe, USA
“For Dominic, MalariaGEN was about more than collaboration. He was a true visionary, who built this community on the understanding that it was our collective responsibility to work together to understand and defeat malaria. We all won or we all lost — together. MalariaGEN has always been focused on trying to solve the problem of malaria, and not about any one individual.
There are lots of people — me included — for whom he was instrumental in how they see the world.”
– Vikki Simpson, UK
"I am thankful to have been part of Dominic’s malaria group these last few years. Dominic was someone who planted seeds and worked hard to support unique projects, including mine. He always had a sparkle in his eye when he talked about science and an even brighter sparkle when he talked about his grandkids and family.
Dominic will live on in his brilliant vision for MalariaGEN and in our science. He will be missed."
– Brandy St. Laurent, USA
"Deeply saddened with this news. May his soul rest in peace!"
– Sofonias Tessema, Ethiopia
"Shocked and so sorrowed to learn of Dominic's passing. We started our careers in malaria at Guy's Hospital together in the early 80's and his vision, passion & drive were abundantly clear. Irreplaceable."
– Andy Waters, UK
“All my gratitude to Dominic for his leadership and deep commitment to build our MalariaGen community and his strong support to PDNA. He was an inspiration for us and we will never forget his great work. Let's keep his legacy and still work together to reach the goal of malaria elimination.”
– William Yavo, Côte d’Ivoire