Research into zoonotic diseases funded by One Health fellowships

Soulsby Foundation funds research into nutrition, zoonotic and emerging disease and antimicrobial resistance.

Doctors and veterinarians working across a wide range of One Health issues have been awarded fellowships to enable them to progress their research. The fellowships are awarded by the Soulsby Foundation – a charity that supports early career researchers working on One Health projects.

Five fellowships, in total worth £50,000, have been awarded to support research into the risks of cross-species disease transmission, including identifying emerging disease, disease surveillance, malnutrition and antimicrobial resistance in the poultry food chain. This makes a total of nearly £200,000 awarded by the Foundation over the past five years.

Aliyu Ahmed (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) will be studying the increased human interaction with wild and domestic animals in the Gambia to better understand disease transmission. He will focus on rural communities and land use change, and will assess both known zoonotic diseases and emerging diseases. Vet, Aliyu says he hopes ‘to promote sustainable agricultural practices that reduce zoonotic disease risks, preserve biodiversity, and contribute to food security’.

Gemma Bowsher (King’s College London) plans to build on existing collaborations with Brazilian researchers across One Health disciplines. She will explore the Pantanal Wetland System in Brazil, and as a doctor will use her inter-disciplinary background to investigate ways to assess the risks of new and emerging diseases in human and animal populations in the region. Gemma plans to collaborate with local experts in ecology, veterinary and human medicine, social sciences and public policy ‘to explore how integrating diverse biological and social science approaches can improve early warnings for infectious disease emergence within the Pantanal ecosystem’.

Joannishka Dsani (University of Bonn) is a vet with a background in organisational development. Zoonoses are estimated to cause millions of deaths every year. She will explore current surveillance systems for zoonotic disease in her native Ghana and their potential for intersectoral collaboration. Her aim is to ‘contribute to the much-needed knowledge on “how” One Health can be practically operationalized in zoonotic disease surveillance systems’.

Ben Ndayambaje (University of Nebraska) will investigate the links between childhood stunting, livestock disease and water quality in Rwanda. Stunting, a multifactorial form of malnutrition, prevents children from reaching their physical and cognitive potential. Despite Rwanda’s progress in achieving most development goals, stunting levels remain high at 38 per cent. Vet, Ben says, ‘New research approaches are therefore needed to explore interconnected factors associated with child stunting and zoonotic pathogen exposure. By enhancing understanding of this complex interplay, I aim to develop innovative interventions to manage malnutrition globally’.

Khadija Omar (University of Glasgow) will explore the public health threats of campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis transmitted to people through poultry in Tanzania. These important bacterial diseases cause gastroenteritis in people, but treatment can be challenging due to antimicrobial resistance. Data on the occurrence of resistance in bacteria in the poultry food chain are urgently needed in countries such as Tanzania due to the risks from these resistant bacteria. Vet, Khadija’s study will assess the occurrence of resistant bacteria in Tanzanian poultry at slaughter, and, she says, ‘the evidence gathered will support interventions aimed at addressing practices associated with poultry production that could endanger people’s health’.

Chair of the Soulsby Foundation trustees, Judy MacArthur Clark, said: ‘We were so impressed by the quality of applications this year, and choosing five successful applicants was really challenging. But each of these 2022 Fellows represents the future of our global health management – relating human, animal and environmental health together in One Health to have real impact in the locations where novel challenges are emerging.’

Notes for editors
This year five Soulsby Fellowships have been awarded by the Soulsby Foundation.

Application for these Fellowships is highly competitive; the Fellowships are awarded for those proposing impactful projects in the area of One Health. A One Health approach seeks solutions which combine consideration of health from a human, animal and environmental perspective.

For further information on the projects and current and past recipients of the fellowships please contact the Soulsby Foundation.

Applications for the 2023 Fellowships will open in the autumn of 2022 and close end of January 2023.

About the Soulsby Foundation
The Soulsby Foundation, established by Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior in 2016, provides travelling research fellowships known as Soulsby Fellowships to medical doctors and veterinarians undertaking a project in the field of One Health. The trustees aim to award up to five Soulsby Fellowships annually through a competitive application process. Each fellowship is likely to be up to £15,000 in value to cover travel and subsistence expenses in carrying out the project.

The Foundation is registered with the Charity Commission as an independent charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) working in close association with other like-minded organisations including the Royal Society of Medicine, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

Lord Soulsby is unique in having been president of both the RSM and the RCVS and the involvement of both, together with RSTMH, emphasises the essential link between the two medical professions and other professionals, at home and overseas.


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