Dr Matthew Berriman awarded the 2017 CA Wright Medal

It is with pleasure that the British Society of Parasitology announces that Dr Matthew Berriman will be the recipient of the 2017 C.A. Wright Medal.

The C.A. Wright Medal is awarded on the basis of an individual’s outstanding contribution to the field of parasitology.  Dr Berriman, a senior group leader within the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has played a leading role in the sequencing of genomes from protozoan and helminthic parasites as well as the application of these data in the study of parasite biology, genetics, evolution and adaptation to parasitism.  This research has proven transformational in the field of parasitology.  The award of the C.A. Wright Medal recognises the impact of Dr Berriman’s research in placing British parasitology at the forefront of international efforts to tackle the health burden attributed to parasitic disease.

The award of the C.A. Wright Medal will take place during the Society’s 2017 Spring Symposium to be held in Dundee, with Dr Berriman providing a plenary talk on his research at the opening of the symposium on April 2nd.

Parasitism on the BBC

The 'In Our Time' Programme is now available on iPlayer.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discussed the relationship between parasites and hosts, where one species lives on or in another to the benefit of the parasite but at a cost to the host, potentially leading to disease or death of the host. Typical examples are mistletoe and trees, hookworms and vertebrates, cuckoos and other birds. In many cases the parasite species do so well in or on a particular host that they reproduce much faster and can adapt to changes more efficiently, and it is thought that almost half of all animal species have a parasitic stage in their lifetime. What techniques do hosts have to counter the parasites, and what impact do parasites have on the evolution of their hosts?

Guests were Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College, London; Wendy Gibson BSP Member and Professor of Protozoology at the University of Bristol; and Kayla King, Associate Professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford.

Report from BSP Travel Award Recipient Sara Silva Pereira

A field report from Kenya by Liverpool PhD student Sara Silva Pereira, who was funded by a BSP International Training and Fieldwork Award.

Finding Trypanosoma congolense in Busia, Western Kenya

I was starting the second year of my PhD when my supervisor suggested a trip to Kenya to collect blood samples from cattle naturally infected with Trypanosoma congolense. I finally made it there in the beginning of my final year for a month-long stay.

Animal African Trypanosomiasis is an endemic disease in 37 sub-Saharan countries that has a significant negative effect on both animal health and livestock productivity. It is caused by trypanosome blood parasites (Trypanosoma spp.), transmitted by the bite of tsetse flies (Glossina spp.), and can result in substantial anaemia, weight loss and ultimately death of the infected animal. Efforts to develop effective prophylaxis have been undermined by the mechanism of antigenic variation, employed by the parasite for immune evasion. Antigenic variation is characterised by the sequential substitution of cell surface antigens, compromising the effectivity of an antibody-based response and thus leading to chronic infection and transmission likelihood.

In this project, I was lucky enough to work within the DVS-ILRI laboratory in Busia, which is part of a collaboration between the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the University of Liverpool through Professor Eric Fèvre. There, the veterinary surgeon Dr Maseno Cléophas was ready to coordinate and assist the project.

sara-making-blood-smears-from-an-infected-cow

Sara making blood smears from an infected cow

the-dvsilri-lab-in-busia

The DVS/ILRI lab in Busia

We screened 900 cows in all sub-counties for trypanosomiasis by microscopic analysis of thin blood smears and high centrifugation technique. We collected blood from each positive animal every week, for 4 weeks, and purified the parasites from the blood using a DEAE cellulose column. From the recovered parasites, we extracted nucleic acids and protein, which will be used to identify and quantify transiently-expressed antigen genes and to identify the active cell surface antigen, in an attempt to better understand the relationship between genetics and antigenic switching in natural infections. At the end of the project, the animals involved were treated for trypanosomiasis and all animals screened were dewormed and given multivitamin supplements.

The most difficult part of the project was logistics. Simple things like getting a car to work in the morning, getting the farmers to pick up the phone so we could find them and the animals, having electricity to run the centrifuge, and of course, the dirt roads often flooded by overnight rains. On the bright side, I don’t think I’ll get car sick in Europe anymore! As the locals were constantly reminding me, “This is the real Kenya” and, with all its peculiarities, it is a magnificent country indeed.

views-of-kericho-during-the-horse-ride

It wasn’t all work. On the second weekend, I did manage to escape to a beautiful cottage house in Kericho, where I met people from ILRI working in Nairobi. I got to ride a horse, see a waterfall and walk through sugar cane plantations praying silently not to find snakes. The remaining weekends were spent catching up on my book waiting list and, of course, sunbathing in the nearby hotel swimming pool with the local children.

sunset-kericho

Through the International Training and Fieldwork Award, the BSP has allowed me to personally witness the difficulties and rewards of field work in remote areas, including all the logistics; to have a better understanding on how farming works in Kenya; and to further develop people and laboratory skills that would not be possible in the comfort of our highly-equipped institute in Liverpool. More importantly, the BSP and the BBSRC, who funded the rest of the project, have allowed the collection of precious materials that will be used to understand antigen-switching patterns in natural infections as well as to show an application for a variant antigen profiling methodology we have developed in the first years of my PhD. For all of this, I am deeply grateful.

-Sara Silva Pereira, Post-graduate student, Department of Infection Biology, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool

Prof Keith Vickerman: Memorial Service in Glasgow

Prof Keith Vickerman died on 28th June 2016. The funeral was mainly for family and a few close colleagues, and it was agreed that a later memorial event would be appropriate.  It has now been arranged that this event will be in the Memorial Chapel, University of Glasgow on 21st March, 2017, from 2pm with refreshments to follow the proceedings.

Keith Vickerman was a leading world authority on sleeping sickness and was Regius Professor of Zoology at the University of Glasgow.  His obituary can be found here.

We are asking people who knew Keith to let us know if they plan to attend the memorial, and to let others know about it. Please email Lorna.Kennedy@glasgow.ac.uk if you plan to attend. If anyone cannot attend, but would like to send a message about Keith, please also send this to Lorna.

Blog report from September’s Autumn Symposium

“Parasitologists, microbiologists and chemists came together for fruitful discussions at the British Society for Parasitology 2016 Autumn Symposium…” writes Dr Paul Denny, symposium organiser, in this week’s Bugbitten blog.

This year’s symposium was held at Durham University and entitled “Microbial Protein Targets: towards understanding and intervention”. Staged in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the core aim was to bring together the biological and physical sciences towards addressing target validation and inhibitor discovery in both protozoal and bacterial pathogens. In addition, for the first time at a BSP meeting, a schools outreach session was held to dovetail with the Symposium. Approximately 100 GCSE and A level students were enthralled by Richard Bellamy (South Tees Hospitals) talking about the threat of antimicrobial resistance and Mike Barrett (University of Glasgow) provided powerful advocacy for the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

The blog is found in full here.

Anaerobic protists: Integrating parasitology with mucosal microbiota and immunology

Newcastle upon Tyne, 31 August – 03 September 2017.  The central theme of the event will be: "Integrating parasitology with mucosal microbiota and immunology".

Venue

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Dates

31st Aug - 3rd Sept 2017

More information

The specific objectives of this EMBO Conference (ICAP VI) are to:

  1. Promote information sharing and support the advancement of research by bringing together researchers with common interests on mucosal microbial parasites, including stimulating collaborations between parasitologists and between parasitologists and mucosal microbiologists and immunologists
  2. Support outstanding junior investigators in the field and promote international communication and collaborations
  3. Promote collegial interactions, open discussion and sharing of methodologies among researchers working on mucosal parasites including parasite interactions with the microbiota and the mucosal immune system.

The central theme of the event will be: "Integrating parasitology with mucosal microbiota and immunology". Two sessions will be dedicated to this theme and complemented by additional talks from other sessions. These two sessions will cover parasites of respectively the digestive and the urogenital tracts, two important cites where health and disease states are increasingly recognised as being influenced by complex interplay between the mucosal immune system, microbial eukaryotes, bacteria and viruses.

Other sessions will cover the most recent development on mucosal parasite genomics and molecular cell biology. Upon completion of the event participants will be able to:

  • Identify major players and pathways in host responses to mucosal microbial parasites
  • Define the term "immunobiome"
  • Generate novel hypotheses for mechanisms driving parasite adaptation to the host human-microbiota environment

Considered parasites will include: Trichomonas, Giardia, Entamoeba, Dientamoeba, Microsporidia, Cryptosporidium and related species.

See: http://meetings.embo.org/event/17-anaerobic-protists

 

ICIM-4 International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology

The 4th International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology (ICIM4) will be held 18 – 23 August 2017 in Moscow, Russia.

Venue

Moscow, Russia

Dates

18th - 23rd Aug 2017

More information

ICIM 4 is devoted to actual questions and the most important achievements in the field of invertebrate morphology; to a wide range of scientific problems including the synthesis of classical morphology with advances in molecular taxonomy and phylogeny; to evolutionary developmental biology; to investigations on the structure of different groups of invertebrates; to the problem of miniaturization and the evolution of larval forms; and to modern achievements in the field of functional morphology and paleontology. Special attention will be paid to modern approaches and methods of morphological and evolutionary studies.

Congress symposia could be assigned to four major fields

(1) Recent advances in functional morphology;

(2) Special invertebrate morphology;

(3) Evolutionary theories;

(4) Advanced Microscopy and Morphology.

The congress will be hosted by Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), which is a perfect venue for this scientific society to gather, discuss and share ideas. The building of the Biological Department located directly on the MSU campus will open its gates to students, scientists and professors from all over the world. See website: http://www.icim4.com/

BioMalPar XIII

Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite. EMBL Heidelberg, Germany.  29 - 31 May 2017

Venue

Heidelberg

Dates

29th - 31st May 2017

More information

This conference will address fundamental questions of the biology of the malaria parasite, its vector, the (immune) response of the host and the disease that it causes, and will showcase the latest technological approaches. The use of “big data” and computational approaches to tackle fundamental biological questions will be assessed. This will be the 13th BioMalPar conference at EMBL Heidelberg. The conference series has built on the success of the EU funded Networks of Excellence EviMalaR and BioMalPar and, for more than a decade, has brought together malaria researchers from Europe with their colleagues and collaborators from around the world, to present and share recent ground-breaking findings on fundamental malaria research in an integrated and highly collaborative environment.

See website here.

 

1st International Workshop On Bank Vole Research

Workshop on Bank Vole behaviour, biology, ecology and disease: from 11-12 May 2017, University of Life Sciences, Lublin, Poland.

Venue

Lublin, Poland

Dates

11-12th May 2017

More information

1st International Workshop on Bank Vole Research aims to bring together bank vole biologists from all around the world. The main reason of this workshops is to exchange up-to-date multidisciplinary knowledge about employing bank vole as research object or model organism. This seminary will give scientists a chance to present their work and discus the future directions of their disciplines, as well as the possibility of commencement the international cooperation.Themes:

  • Behavioral Studies
  • Biology of bank voles
  • Ecological aspects of bank voles research
  • Enviromental Studies
  • Evolution
  • Diseases – including epidemiology, virology and parasitology
  • Molecular Studies
  • Reproductive biology