News

Parasitology Journal seeks Review Articles

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The BSP's partner journal, Parasitology, is soliciting review articles from BSP members. Reviews can be on any topic that interests you within the journal’s broad scope.  If you, or any of your parasitologist colleagues or students, have any ideas, please contact BSP councillor Dr Paul McVeigh, who is on the Editorial Board.  Deadlines are open for discussion; at the initial stage he would need only a prospective title and author.

Report from BSP Travel Award Recipient Eve Hanks

A field report from Leiden by Glasgow PhD student Eve Hanks, who was funded by a BSP International Training and Fieldwork Award.

Going Dutch

The first year of my PhD has been focused on understanding the protective immunity conferred to sheep when vaccinated with Barbervax ® against the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus. Working at the University of Glasgow and in conjunction with Moredun Research Institute, it had become clear that the majority of antibodies generated following vaccination were anti-glycan antibodies. This led to my trip to Leiden to work at the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) with Dr C.H. Hokke and his team to attempt to categorise the glycan content of Barbervax  and determine the antigenicity of each component when incubated with sheep sera.

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Leiden University Medical Centre

I found myself in a truly international office known as the aquarium. PhD students from several countries with similar interests were a great source of knowledge for me and new friendships were made. Most of the current glycan work has a human focus, I was the only veterinary researcher.

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I was very fortunate to be able to make use of the new glycan array technologies developed at LUMC. This is the first time that the glycan content of the Barbervax has been analysed to this extent. Having the ability to extract glycans from the native vaccination preparation and probe these arrays with the sera from a wide range of vaccinated sheep from pen and field trials was really valuable. This allowed us to compare anti-glycan antibodies across a cross section of sheep at a set time point and also longitudinally comparing lambs, yearlings and ewes as they moved through the trials. These data will hopefully aid in the understanding of the effectiveness of Barbervax in the face of failure of recombinant protein vaccine attempts. Although further analysis is required, it has been a rewarding trip which has generated novel data specific to H. contortus and the Barbervax vaccination, and will form part of my thesis.

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Having never visited The Netherlands before I made full use of my free time with trips to Amsterdam and The Hague. I travelled to Cologne to run in the half marathon race and visited Ghent and Antwerp also. During my time at LUMC I was lucky enough to be living by the sea and with unseasonable warm weather this was a perfect location.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the BSP for the travel award and to LUMC and all the staff and students who made this experience so rewarding and memorable.

Eve Hanks 16/10/16

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.

New photography project: ‘Invisible Asia-Pacific Malaria’

People who live with malaria in the Asia-Pacific are often invisible – a new exhibition of photographs by Pearl Gan introduces us to these invisible people, giving them flesh, blood, feelings, and lives.

Most of us think of malaria as an African problem, a likely consequence of the widespread poverty, geographic isolation, chronic conflicts, and poor economic development of much of that continent. In the Asia-Pacific, in contrast, we have booming economies, hundreds of millions being lifted out of poverty, incredible transportation and telecommunications links, and relative peace and political stability. Among the 20 most powerful national economies in the influential G20, six are in the Asia-Pacific. Asia-Pacific schools produce students representing nations that consistently fill the top 5 rankings in abilities in mathematics, reading, and science. Despite the long march of extraordinary progress out of regional poverty and conflict, malaria in the Asia-Pacific remains a very significant public health threat and burden. Over 2 billion Asians live at risk of endemic malaria, many tens of millions are infected (perhaps as many as several hundred million) each year and tens of thousands of those do not survive (perhaps as many as several hundred thousand). We cannot be sure of those numbers because the people who live with malaria in the Asia-Pacific are invisible – the most isolated, poor, and voiceless. This exhibition is about them. Pearl Gan’s artistry introduces us to these invisible people, giving them flesh, blood, feelings, and lives.

Prof Kevin Baird, Head of the Eijkman Oxford Clinical Research Unit (EOCRU) Jakarta

The Exhibition will be on from 2 to 29 September 2017 at the National Library Board, 100 Victoria Street S 188064, Singapore. You can email Pearl at asiamalariaimages@gmail.comfor more information

Photos are copyright Pearl Gan in association with Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU), Eijkman Oxford Clinical Research Unit (EOCRU) and The Wellcome Trust.

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Two BSP symposia in one month!

A BSP Tryp/Leish symposium was held in České Budějovice, Czech Republic, in the first week of September; closely followed by the Autumn Symposium in Durham, Sept 14-16th.

In a new venture for the BSP, the Czech symposium, focusing on all aspects of kinetoplastid biology, was a great success. It featured a fascinating location and a conference dinner complete with orchestral accompaniment!  The traditional Autumn Symposium is this year held at Durham University (again, historic locations abound, with a conference dinner in Durham’s stunning castle).  This Symposium focusses on ‘Microbial protein targets: towards understanding and intervention’, and is a joint venture with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Follow the BSP on Twitter, @BSPParasitology, for live updates on these exciting events!

Resources available from ‘Silent Signal’, a biomedical science communication project

Silent Signal is a Wellcome-Trust-funded biomedical science communication project. As part of the project’s legacy, a bank of free resources is available for those working in STEM outreach and education.

All the activities are curriculum linked, free to download and available to everyone.  The resources complement six digital films, covering a wide range of biomedical themes that are applicable to parasitology. In particular AfterGlow deals with Malaria and Battle of Blister deals with inflammation, while Immune Craft explores immune learning, function and memory.  The activities include curiosity-driven tabletop exercises to introduce the topics and promote informal learning, and then a lead discussion to promote debate into the cultural, societal and ethical considerations of biomedical research.

All the project information can be found at silentsignal.org and the educational resources can be found here.

Upcoming BSP Meetings

Dates for the diary in 2017 and 2018.

The BSP Spring Meeting in 2017 will be held at Dundee University, 2-5th April. Local organiser Prof. Mark Field.

The 2017 Autumn Symposium will be a 1-day event held in London on 15th Sept in association with the Linnean society. Local organisers Dr Bonnie Webster and Prof Russ Stothard.

The 2018 BSP Spring Meeting will be held at Aberystwyth University, 8-11th April. Local organiser Dr Justin Pachebat.

Did you know? RSB benefits for BSP members

The BSP is a member of the Royal Society of Biology, giving individual BSP members a range of benefits.

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Individual members of the Royal Society of Biology’s Full Member Organisations can benefit from a 50% reduced rate on Royal Society of Biology membership for their first two years. This provides cost-effective access to a range of additional benefits, including a subscription to The Biologist magazine, significantly discounted attendance at a range of training courses and events, and enhanced professional recognition via post-nominal letters, professional awards and a members-only Continuing Professional Development scheme.

Blog about BSP 2016 Spring Meeting

A student’s outlook on the BSP 54th Spring Meeting ‘From science to solutions’, April 2016.

BSP Student Rep. Leonie Wilson blogs about the meeting here.  “…a vibrant and energetic atmosphere for all attendees, most strongly felt by the students who were eager and enthusiastic to learn more from their peers within the wonderful scientific field of Parasitology.”

BSP Travel Award Recipient Melanie Clerc

A field report from Germany by Edinburgh PhD student Melanie Clerc, who was funded by a BSP International Training and Fieldwork Award.

In my PhD, I am investigating the mechanisms that underlie interactions among co-infecting parasite species. To do so, I am using wild wood mice and their diverse parasite community to understand which processes are acting to create within-host interactions under natural conditions. Focussing on a previously-identified negative interaction between the most prevalent nematode Heligmosomoides polygyrus and the coccidian parasite Eimeria hungaryensis in UK wood mice, I am primarily asking questions about the role of the immune response in mediating this interaction, the influence of various host characteristics and how both variation in immune response and host demographics create the patterns of co-infection we observe in the wild.

Continue reading “BSP Travel Award Recipient Melanie Clerc”