LCNTDR says farewell to Professor Sir Roy Anderson at 9th anniversary event

06 Apr 2022

On 31st March 2022, Professor Sir Roy Anderson officially stepped down as the Director of the London Centre for NTD Research, at its 9th-anniversary event, held at the Royal Veterinary College, London, UK.

The event brought together researchers from member institutions and other interested stakeholders to celebrate the contributions of Sir Roy, and to welcome the Centre’s new Director, Professor Joanne Webster, from the Royal Veterinary College.

Speaking at the event Professor David Rollinson, Chair of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance and Merit Researcher, NHM praised Sir Roy’s efforts to establish the Centre and ensure its long-term viability by bridging the gap between London based research institutions and researchers in endemic settings, and promoting NTDs among early career researchers, ensuring that new generations will take on the challenge to beat NTDs.

In a statement, Sir Roy celebrated his successor, stating “Professor Webster has made huge contributions to the Centre and her research has increased understanding of the biology, evolution, epidemiology and control of NTDs, especially the schistosome infections. She has conducted pioneering work on Toxoplasma and its impact on various host species and her work on defining the importance of animal reservoirs via molecular epidemiological studies of the human and animal schistosome species has been instrumental in shifting much greater attention to the One Health aspects of NTD control.”

Professor Webster also thanked Sir Roy for his contribution to establish the Centre and shared her vision for the Centre, saying "As Director, I look forward to the continuation and expansion of cutting-edge activities, across a broad range of partners and programmes, to facilitate improvements in our understanding and treatment of these devastating diseases of both human and animals".

The 9th anniversary event featured presentations from NTD researchers across LCNTDRs member institutions, including:

  • Professor Deidre Hollingsworth provided a keynote speech on the impact of potential COVID-19-induced disruption of NTD services on transmission of & progress against NTDs. Notably, COVID-19 is likely to result in fewer cases detected due to interrupted case finding activities, and many settings with delayed MDA will see an increase in infection. However, the appropriate response to this will vary significantly across settings. Access her presentation here.
  • Rosie Maddren from Imperial College London spoke about the Geshiyaro Project - a five-year research programme that aims to identify the optimal design of soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis elimination programmes. Launched in January 2018 with funding from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the project assesses different combinations of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) interventions and community-wide mass drug administration (MDA) in the Wolaita zone in south-east Ethiopia, which is home to two million people. Access the presentation here.
  • Eman Shakir at Kingston University spoke about Cell signalling during male-female interactions by Schistosoma mansoni. The presentation shows ESPs regulate cell proliferation in opposite sex worms through ERK/p38 MAPK-dependent mechanisms. Access the presentation here.
  • Dan Parsons from Kingston University spoke gave a presentation titled Molecular epidemiology and evolution of Antigen Coding Genes (ACGs) from the multi-host parasite Schistosoma japonicum. The presentation discussed the extent which zoonotic transmission contributes to parasite antigen diversity, and its impact on parasite antigen evolution. Access the presentation here.
  • Jaya Shrivastava from UK NEQAS Parasitology spoke about clinical diagnostics in parasitology, particularly in relation to malaria. Her presentation highlighted common problems identified by the Malaria Molecular schemes. Access the presentation here.
  • Emma Taylor at the University of Surrey spoke about a One Health approach to the control and prevention of rabies. Her research explored the cost-effectiveness of an Integrated Bite Case Management rabies control programme. Access the presentation here.
  • Dr Frederik Seelig at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine spoke about the Global Vector Hub - community-led online platform to allow access to and exchange of information and data on vector control and vector biology. Access the presentation here.
  • Dr Medhavi Ranatunga at the University of Greenwich gave a presentation titled Ex vivo analysis of Leishmania infection in human blood cells over 24 hours. The research aims to investigate how whole blood cell populations participate and interact with Leishmania parasites to allow establishment of infection in humans. Access the presentation here.
  • Dr Martin Walker at the Royal Veterinary Collehe presented on behalf of Gregory Milne with his presentation titled ‘Secular changes in exposure to Toxoplasma gondii: Implications for congenital disease in human populations’. Access the presentation here.
  • Lastly, a special presentation was given by Joseph Mensah, currently a PhD candidate at University of Sheffield who presented his MPH dissertation as part of a new initiative highlighting student NTD research. Joseph presented a systematic review on economic evaluations of trachoma interventions, highlighting major evidence gaps and variation across the global trachoma programme conducted under Dr Hugo Turner at Imperial College London. Access the presentation here.