Fellowships awarded for One Health projects on food safety, zoonotic disease and Alzheimer’s disease

Funds allocated to researchers conducting research around the Globe

Researchers working across the wide range of One Health have been awarded fellowship funds to allow them to travel to progress their understanding in their research areas.

Three fellowships, in total worth over £25,000, have been awarded to support research into food safety, the zoonotic disease – trypanosomiasis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The fellowships are awarded by the Soulsby Foundation –  a charity that supports researchers, particularly those early in their career, working on One Health topics.

Harriet Auty

Harriet Auty, based at the SRUC in Inverness, UK, is using the funds to investigate how research into animal and human African trypanosomiasis can inform evidence-based policy on controlling the pathogen. Auty, who will be travelling to Tanzania, highlighted the importance of controlling the disease, saying: ‘Animal African trypanosomiasis is a major constraint on agriculture and food security. Human African trypanosomiasis is fatal without treatment and under-reporting and misdiagnosis are common.’

Lorena Sordo

Lorena Sordo, who is currently studying for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, UK, will use the fellowship to travel to the USA to learn a methodology to allow her to further her studies looking at cats with an Alzheimer’s-like disease. Sordo explains why the cats are a good potential model for human Alzheimer’s disease: ‘In people with Alzheimer’s disease, the accumulation of proteins beta-amyloid and phosphorylated tau is believed to lead to cognitive decline. We have found that cats naturally accumulate these proteins and it is our belief that by quantifying this deposition and extension in the cats’ brains, we will be able to further our understanding on Alzheimer’s disease and its progression.

Cat brain – 7T MRI showing the white matter tracts from Sordo’s research group
Lian Thomas

Lian Thomas, from the University of Liverpool, will be travelling to Nairobi, Kenya, to investigate and quantify the risk to consumers from multiple potential hazards in pork that is supplied through different value chains of varying levels of intensification and organisation. Emphasising the multi-disciplinary nature of the study Thomas said the research would include ’biological sample taking and laboratory diagnostics and the collection and analysis of qualitative socio-economic data.’ She adds that ‘a participatory approach will then be used to design effective and acceptable food safety interventions and understand the impacts of these on the value chain and wider society.’

Chair of the trustees, Judy MacArthur Clark, said: ‘The Soulsby Fellowship offers the opportunity for young veterinary and medical scientists of high potential to deliver really impactful projects in the field of One Health globally.  In just a few years, we have learnt that remarkable projects can be delivered by remarkable people on a relatively small budget.’ She added ‘This year’s fellows are great examples of the talent Lord Soulsby can inspire through the Foundation named after him.’