Dr Martha Betson

Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Parasitology and Head of Department Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health

Martha graduated from University of Cambridge with a BA in Natural Sciences and went on to do a PhD in cell biology at University College London. She then undertook postdoctoral work at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, where she used the fruit fly as a model to gain insight into signalling pathways regulating cancer.

While in Boston, Martha developed an interest in public health and infectious diseases. After studying for an MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof Russell Stothard, first at the Natural History Museum and then at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Here she played an integral role in the Schistosomiasis in Mothers and Infants project, investigating the epidemiology of a neglected parasitic disease in mothers and young children living in lakeshore communities in Uganda. Subsequently Martha took up a post as a research fellow in One Health at the Royal Veterinary College.

Martha joined the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey in May 2015 and became Head of Department of Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health in 2019. Martha's research integrates laboratory work (molecular biology and genomics), fieldwork and epidemiology to understand the transmission dynamics of parasitic diseases of humans and animals and thus improve their control. Her research on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) focuses on soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiases and food-borne trematodiases. She has a particular interest in understanding the role of zoonotic and environmental reservoirs in transmission of neglected tropical diseases and the emergence and spread of anthelmintic resistance.

Martha advocates an interdisciplinary One Health approach in research and to improve control of NTDs. Current NTD research projects include:

- ZooTRIP. Zoonotic transmission of intestinal parasites. This interdisciplinary One Health project investigates the role of zoonotic and environmental reservoirs in transmission of intestinal helminths in the Philippines. It is a collaborative project with researcher at University of the Philippines.

- Disentangling the role of beta-tubulin isotypes in anthelmintic resistance in Ascaris.

- Application of a reverse vaccinology approach to identify vaccine candidates for ascariasis.

- Assessing food-borne risks of Toxocara infection in support of public health and food quality assurance

- PARADISE. As part of this large multi-partner project funded through the One Health-European Joint Programme, we are developing new typing markers for Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia duodenalis.