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 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.


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”

Changes to the BSP Council

The BSP council has undergone significant changes in many of its executive roles this year.

The BSP Council is responsible for the general affairs of the Society.  There are six Council Officers and up to eight Ordinary Council Members.  Postgraduate students are also represented on council by student representatives.

At this year’s Spring Meeting (subject to ratification at the autumn AGM), Professor Mark Taylor stepped up from the VP role to that of President.  Drs Damer Blake, Paul Denny and Paul Horrocks took over from Owain Millington, Gus Bell and Russ Stothard as Honorary Meetings Secretary, Treasurer and General Secretary, respectively.  The remaining role of Honorary Communications Secretary is currently filled by Dr Catherine Merrick.

Ordinary Members of the BSP Council are elected by the membership and stand for three years. Council Officers are proposed by the BSP Council and their election ratified by the membership at the AGM. The President and Vice-president serve for two years, and the other Officers for three years.

The full council can be found here.  Our new VP and additional Ordinary Council Members will be announced soon.

Call for papers for ‘Microbial Genomics’ journal

Microbial Genomics, a new journal published by the Microbiology Society, is seeking submissions in the area of parasitology.

Microbial Genomics is a new, fully open access and open data journal published by the Microbiology Society. The journal invites papers that use genomic approaches to understand parasite evolution, population genomics and phylogeography, outbreaks and epidemiological investigations, impact of climate or changing niche, metagenomic and whole transcriptome studies, and bioinformatic analysis. All article processing charges have been waived during the journal’s launch period, meaning that it is now free to publish. For more information please see the Microbial Genomicswebsite.