BSP donation to support parasitology in Venezuela

Several Venezuelan parasitologists, members of the VeConVen research network, recently received a donation of £1,000 for laboratory material and medical supplies from the British Society of Parasitology, to continue their activities in Venezuela.

Among the beneficiaries of this donation are the Venezuelan Science Incubator, and two laboratories belonging to the Tropical Medicine Institute at the Central University of Venezuela, the Molecular Biology Laboratory for Protozoa and the Biohelminthiasis Section.

The Venezuelan Science Incubator, led by Dr. Alberto Paniz, is a non-profit institution dedicated to promoting research, surveillance, and prevention of infectious and zoonotic diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, or protozoa such as Zika, Diphtheria, Chagas disease, and Leishmaniasis. The Molecular Biology Laboratory for Protozoa, led by Dr. Hernán Carrasco, has been monitoring the molecular epidemiology of Chagas disease in both urban and rural areas of the country for almost two decades. The Biohelminthiasis section, led by Dr. Oscar Noya, focuses on investigating and diagnosing different helminthiases of public health importance, as well as amoebiasis, Chagas disease, and Malaria.

Despite the inconveniences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, the beneficiaries received equipment for test analysis, disease diagnosis, as well as general supplies for staff protection during laboratory procedures, allowing the continuity of their regular activities.

This kind of donation makes a huge impact because, since the beginning of the year 2000, Venezuela’s public health quality has been declining due to political and socioeconomic factors, causing both the migration of highly qualified professionals (health staff, researchers), as well as the shortage of medical and laboratory instruments and equipment. As a result, the country has a disproportionate resurgence of deadly diseases, which had been effectively controlled in previous decades.

Despite this, there are still various research groups throughout the country, responsible for dealing not only with diseases but also with the lack of supplies. To continue with their research line and fulfill their work, most of these professionals seek the help of foreign entities such as NGOs, to obtain financial resources and, thus, acquire materials and equipment to continue with clinical/laboratory activities.

In 2018, the VeConVen Network was established: a research group made up of several professionals in the health area and research, focused mainly on the monitoring and control of vector-borne and infectious diseases of interest to public health. The recent contribution made by the British Society of Parasitology to VeConVen members came at a great time, because it has been very helpful to carry out COVID-19 research in the country. However, supplies are limited, and without any type of government support, it is necessary to get some help from more societies, with both financial support and/or donations of second-hand equipment in good conditions, to continue with the follow-up, diagnosis, and control of diseases of public interest in Venezuela.

Please contact the BSP if you would like more information.

Parasitology 2021 ECR Prize call (for papers published in 2020)

We have introduced a new Early Career Researcher award, and will be giving an annual prize of £1000 for the best paper by an early career researcher published in an issue of Parasitology during the previous year (2020). Those eligible will normally be no more than 7 years post award of their PhD and should either be the first, last, or corresponding author of the article.

If you are eligible and would like to be considered for the 2021 award (for papers published in 2020), please can you email Alison Paskins (axpaskins@cambridge.org) with the following by the 10th February:

·         Your full name and the year of award of your PhD

·         Article title

·         A few sentences summarising the findings of your paper

Russell Stothard (Editor-in-Chief), and the Editors will then assess the papers, and announce the best paper later in the year.

Endosymbiotic Love Calendar – an art and science collaboration

Endosymbiotic love calendar is an art and science collaboration between performance artists and scientists working together to embody a microbe per month for 2021. This diverse team explores our understanding of gender, reproduction, sexual orientation, and social behaviour in microorganisms and placing the human at the centre of things. An everyday object- a calendar- is used to document this process to function as a familiar space to reflect on unfamiliar worlds and spark discussion.

Find out more about our live event or order/download your calendars here.

Opening of the call for proposals on biodiversity FRB-CESAB 2020

The Center for Biodiversity Synthesis and Analysis (CESAB) of the French Foundation for Biodiversity Research is opening a call for research projects, to fund at least three innovative projects relating to the synthesis of ideas and concepts and/or the analysis of existing data. The main aim of these projects should be to improve scientific knowledge of biodiversity and demonstrate how we can use this knowledge to better protect it. The submitted projects can deal with any topic related to biodiversity, in the fields of natural sciences or human and social sciences.

The selected projects will be funded for a period of three years, including: the recruitment of a post-doctoral student for two years, the organization of six meetings of the working group at CESAB and the promotion and publication of the results. The CESAB will also provide logistical, technical and administrative support.

Members of CESAB projects share their scientific expertise, available data and modeling tools to answer a wide range of biodiversity questions at all spatial and temporal scales. Composed of a maximum of 14 experts, each selected project must be coordinated by a recognized scientist attached to a French research organization. Please share!

Take part in two surveys

Survey on collecting and preserving study organisms and archiving

The Natural Science Collections COVID-19 Task Force (composed of researchers associated with natural history museum collections and/or biodiversity science) set as one of its aims to develop guidelines for linking host and microorganism/parasite samples and data. For this, we are requesting your participation in a brief questionnaire on common practices used by microbiologists for collecting and preserving study organisms (viral and otherwise) and archiving (collecting a voucher specimen) of the host organism. The survey (Qualtrics) and further information can be found here.

Survey on Horizon-scanning of research priorities on pathogen spill-over processes and their ecological correlates

As a group of ecologists, conservation biologists, taxonomists, virologists, epidemiologists, health care providers, veterinarians and social scientists, we recently established a COVID Task Force CETAF-DiSSCo joint action (CETAF = Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities, DiSSCo = Distributed System of Scientific Collections), with the aim to help clarify the links between biodiversity, human pressure and the origin and causes of coronaviruses disease, as well as to identify the actions that should be put in place to complement the efforts made in other disciplines. This effort is equally important to anticipate and prevent the occurrence and propagation of zoonotic infectious diseases worldwide.
One of the first tangible actions we want to pursue is to identify priority questions that biodiversity scientists should explore to reach a better understanding of pathogen origins, spill-over processes and their ecological correlates. The survey (Google doc) and full details can be accessed here.

IDDO’s schistosomiasis and STHs Research Agenda open for comments

A global collaboration dedicated to schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases is looking for input into its new Research Agenda from the wider research community. The Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) with TDR (the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases) aims to expand data re-use and collaboration and accelerate better treatment and control of these diseases.

The Research Agenda will be an active document, changing as priorities are addressed and new data collected, allowing for additional research questions for analysis to be considered over time. Compiled by the schistosomiasis and STHs Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) with global experts from the research community, the Agenda is a list of priority research questions, on treatment or other critical research areas, which could be tackled using individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis or specific analyses based on pooled data (e.g. review of methodology). Its ongoing development will continue to be guided by the SAC and the wider schistosomiasis and STHs research community.

You can read the full draft Research Agenda here. Please email your feedback to schistosth@iddo.org by July 17, 2020.

The 2019 Autumn Symposium in Belfast

 

On 23rd September, the BSP hosted our annual Autumn Symposium.  This year’s theme was “post-genomic progress in helminth parasitology”. We welcomed 83 delegates from 10 countries to our lovely venue in Riddel Hall, on the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) campus, in leafy South Belfast.

In our first session, we heard invited presentations from Angela Mousley (QUB) on how her lab is using multiple ‘omics approaches to understand neuropeptide biology in nematode parasites, followed by talks from John Gilleard (University of Calgary) and Jane Hodgkinson (University of Liverpool) on the genomic basis of drug resistance in, respectively, Haemonchus and Fasciola.  After a welcome caffeination opportunity, we focused on functional genomics, with Paul Brindley (George Washington University), and Elissa Hallem (UCLA) highlighting how we can better understand  parasite biology using genome editing, and Aaron Maule (QUB) putting the spotlight on RNAi and stem cells in Fasciola.  After a highly-praised lunch from Riddel Hall’s excellent catering department, we broadened our scope to look at small RNAs in nematodes (Collette Britton, University of Glasgow), evolution of symbiotic Wolbachia bacteria (Mark Blaxter, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; kindly presenting via Skype due to a flight cancellation), and the role of GPCR signalling in reproductive development of schistosomes (Christoph Grevelding, Justus Liebig University).

During the subsequent poster session, we enjoyed drinks and nibbles alongside nineteen high-quality posters, with the calibre of postgraduate and postdoctoral research on show recognised by poster prizes (see list below), supported by Elsevier.

A BugBitten blog of the meeting by Tom Pennance is also available here.

The BSP would like to thank delegates and invited speakers for their contributions, and to pay special thanks to our headline sponsor, Cambridge University Press, and all of our other supporters: Analab, Elsevier, Queen’s University Belfast Core Technology Units, Irish Society for Parasitology, Microscope Services and Sales Ltd, Premier Scientific, VWR, and Queen’s University Belfast School of Biological Sciences Athena SWAN Team.

 

Congratulations to our poster prize winners as follows:

Students

1st Duncan Wells (poster 19; Queen’s University Belfast) (£150 prize)

2nd Jennifer Noonan (poster 18; McGill University, Canada) (£100 prize)

3rd Nicolas Feldman (poster 10; University of Buenos Aires, Argentina) (£50 prize)

Postdocs

1st Paul Airs (poster 12; Queen’s University Belfast) (£150 prize)

2nd Paul McCusker (poster 5; Medical College of Wisconsin, USA) (£100 prize)

3rd Oliver Weth (poster 14; Justus Liebig University, Germany) (£50 prize)

 

 

 

Congratulations to prize winners at the 2019 BSP Spring meeting

The 2019 BSP Spring Meeting was held on 15-17 April in Manchester. The abstract book is now available on our website. Thanks to all the local organisers for a warm welcome and to our sponsors.

Special talks were given by BSP Honorary member Professor Janet Hemingway; CA Wright Memorial Medal winner Professor Russell Stothard; and the recipient of our first BSP President's Medal, Dr Mattie Pawlowic (pictured here with BSP President Maria-Gloria Basanez).

Mattie and Maria-Gloria

The British Society of Parasitology congratulates all winners of the 2019 Spring Meeting poster and short talk prize competition. The winners were:

Best short talks. 1st: Clarize de Korne. 2nd: Emma Houlder. 3rd: Marie Astrid Hoogerwerf. Best posters. 1st: Hannah Smith. 2nd: Dimitri Bulte. 3rd: Bozo Lugonja. Best Ecology short talk: Natalia Fraija-Fernandez. Best Ecology poster: Meg Huggins. Best poster pitch: Luca Cunningham. Best sci comm flash talks. 1st: Iris Mair. 2nd: Jo Pennock.

Prizes were sponsored by Cambridge University Press (1st prize for short talk and poster); Parasites & Vectors (2nd and 3rd prize for short talk and poster and prize for best poster pitch); British Ecological Society Parasites and Pathogens Group (best Ecology short talk and poster); and Qiagen (Best Sci Comm Flash Talk).

 

Congratulations to our 2019 Medal Winners and new Honorary Members

CA Wright Memorial Medal 2019 awarded to:

Professor Russell Stothard

The CA Wright Memorial Medal offers the opportunity for the British Society of Parasitology to recognise a member of the Society who has not only made an outstanding contribution to discipline of parasitology, but also offers the opportunity to confirm their achievements to date as a distinguished leader in their respective field. This sentiment is in keeping with the work and impact of Chris Wright, then Director of the Experimental Taxonomy Unit at the Natural History Museum and the Society's President at the time of his untimely death in 1983, and in whose memory this commemorative medal was instigated.

It is with great pleasure that the Society announces the recipient of the 2019 CA Wright Memorial Medal; Professor J Russell Stothard of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Russell will be awarded his medal during the upcoming Spring Meeting of the British Society of Parasitology (April 15-17th) at the University of Manchester. As part of his presentation, Russell will give a talk entitled “Some Personal Reflections on Connections, Collaborations and Cross-overs: Three Important ‘Cs’ in A Career in Schistosomiasis Research and Control”.

Russ Stothard

BSP President’s Medal 2019 awarded to:

Dr Mattie Pawlowic

This year the British Society of Parasitology has inaugurated a new award - the President’s Medal. This medal is awarded to a member of the Society to recognise an outstanding early career researcher who, as well as providing a marked impact to the field of parasitology, demonstrates ambitions consistent with the potential to achieve a world-leading status within our community.

It is with great pleasure that the Society announces the first recipient of the President’s Medal; Dr Mattie Christine Pawlowic of Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research at the University of Dundee. Mattie will be awarded her medal during the upcoming Spring Meeting of the British Society of Parasitology (April 15-17th) at the University of Manchester. As part of her presentation, Mattie will give a talk entitled “Cryptosporidium, a genetically tractable parasite”.

mattie

The BSP recognises the outstanding contribution of its members with Honorary Memberships:

Professor Simon Croft, Professor Diana Williams and Professor Jozef Vercruysse

The BSP is pleased to announce the award of three new Honorary Members for 2019. These awards recognise the sustained and outstanding contribution of these individuals to the field of Parasitology through research, the promotion and dissemination of parasitology as well as recognising service to our Society. These Honorary Memberships are being made to Professor Simon Croft (pictured left) of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Professor Diana Williams (pictured centre) of the University of Liverpool and Professor Jozef Vercruysse (pictured right) of Ghent University. These awards will be formally announced to the membership at the Annual General Meeting of the Society to be held during the Spring Meeting at The University of Manchester. Simon, Diana and Jozef will all be attending this year’s meeting.