Soulsby Foundation funds research into human and animal viruses, cross-species disease transmission and treatment for snake bites.
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.
Four fellowships, in total worth £40,000, have been awarded to support research into the risks of cross-species disease transmission, the impact of climate change on disease vectors, and much needed therapy for a neglected but common tropical disease. This makes a total of nearly £140,000 awarded by the Foundation over the last four years.
Olga Calatayud (University of Glasgow College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences) will study carnivore parvoviruses in the Serengeti in Tanzania to understand the natural barriers preventing spillover of viruses. ‘In my preliminary study I discovered that this environment is resistant to the introduction of the pandemic variant of carnivore parvovirus which is invading almost all other carnivore populations worldwide’ says Calatayud. This work is fundamental to understanding the links between ecosystem integrity and the risks of disease transmission and outbreaks in animals and humans.
Stephanie Brien (University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies) will also explore cross-species disease transmission. She aims to understand disease risks at the wildlife-livestock interface in Chad. Endangered antelope are being reintroduced to desert regions to restore lost biodiversity and improve ecosystem function but this brings antelope into contact with livestock. ‘My project will explore the infection status of livestock and reintroduced antelope in Chad to identify the key disease transmission risks whilst developing tools for monitoring wildlife-livestock health more broadly’ says Brien.
Katherine Laycock (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania) aims to assess human arboviral infections in Botswana. As climate change and human movement spread mosquitoes to different regions of the world, mosquito-borne diseases may follow—with potentially devastating consequences for humans and other animals. Laycock will determine whether two families of arboviruses have entered the country to affect people and mosquitoes. ‘This is part of the first arboviral research in Botswana in over 50 years and will provide important guidance for mosquito control programmes both in Botswana and in neighbouring countries’ says Laycock.
George Oluoch (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine & Kenya Snakebite Research and Intervention Centre, Kenya) will study the potential of camel antibodies to develop a new community-dispensable snakebite treatment. Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that, every year, causes more than 100,000 human deaths and severe tissue damage maiming as many as 400,000 more victims. ‘I will engage affected communities, healthcare workers and policy makers in developing a safe and affordable way to treat the disabling health and socioeconomic effects of snakebite’ says Oluoch. This will have an impact across sub-Saharan Africa both in humans and in domestic animals.
Chair of the Soulsby Foundation trustees, Judy MacArthur Clark, said: ‘The pandemic has highlighted the intimate link between the health of animals, humans and our environment. Taking a One Health approach in which veterinary, medical, environmental and policy professionals work together enables us to find remarkable solutions which are equally relevant to the developed world as to the communities in which our Fellows work. These 2021 Soulsby Fellows truly are potential future leaders in One Health. They will enable us to better respond to future global problems, including pandemics.’
Notes for editors
This year four 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 2022 Fellowships will open in the autumn of 2021 and close end of January 2022.
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.