Beating the world's deadliest diseases

05 Apr 2011 15:00:00.000


Delegates from across the globe are gathering in Nottingham for a conference on some of the world’s deadliest parasitic diseases.

Researchers from Australia, the USA, Niger, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Mali and Cameroon will be at The University of Nottingham for the British Society for Parasitology’s annual conference from April 12-14.

Seven African researchers are flying in thanks to travel awards made by the Wellcome Trust, and will join some of the world’s top experts on diseases such as malaria, river blindness, sleeping sickness and toxoplasmosis.

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Malaria alone kills more than 750,000 people every year, and infects 225 million people worldwide.

The British Society for Parasitology’s (BSP) annual meeting is a chance for both senior and junior researchers to present new findings and discuss the latest research into diseases that are caused by parasites — from single-celled organisms invisible to the naked eye, to inch-long worms, mosquitoes that carry malaria and snails that transmit water-borne infections such as schistosomiasis.

The attendance of delegates from Africa is especially valuable because of the seriousness of parasitic diseases in many African countries. The University of Nottingham is directly financing the attendance of Dr Berhanu Erko of Addis Ababa University, with which Nottingham has close academic ties.

Keynote speakers at the conference include Dominic Kwiatkowski, Professor of Tropical Paediatrics and MRC Clinical Research Professor at the University of Oxford and the Sanger Centre. Professor Kwiatkowski’s research interests lie in using genomic approaches to understand the interaction between malaria parasites and people during infection.

Members of the public are invited to an open ‘Public Understanding of Science’ lecture being given by Professor Tim Geary, a guest speaker from McGill University in Canada. Professor Geary’s research focuses on the development of novel drug treatments against human worm infections.

Professor Geary’s lecture, ‘Medicines for neglected tropical diseases: reversing the equation’, is being given at 5.30pm on Tuesday, April 12, in the Coates Road Auditorium, University Park campus.

Dr Robin Flynn, Lecturer in Immunoparasitology at The University of Nottingham, said: “Professor Geary’s lecture will provide an important opportunity for members of the public to gain an insight into where cutting-edge research into parasite control is going, and it will highlight our current priorities.”

The BSP annual meeting will also see the presentation of awards to those who have performed outstanding work. Dr Simon Brooker of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene will be receiving the CA Wright medal award. Dr Brooker is a Wellcome Trust fellow, and is also based at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Nairobi, Kenya. His research interests are in human helminth infections and developing a vaccine to control hookworm infection.

Wallace Peters, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, will be receiving the prestigious ICOPA Distinguished Parasitologist Award, to mark a lifetime’s work in the field. Professor Peters is a world-renowned expert in malaria.

The President of the BSP is Professor Jan Bradley, of the School of Biology at The University of Nottingham. Emeritus Professor Mike Doenhoff, also in School of Biology, is organising the meeting, with considerable help from other members of BSP Council and University of Nottingham academic staff and student volunteers.

Industry partners in this year’s event include Pfizer and Novartis Animal Health.

Parasitologists at The University of Nottingham work on understanding the biology of the major parasites of both humans and animals. They have a particular focus on understanding the contribution of genetics to host susceptibility and parasite immune evasion strategies. These core interests underpin the search for novel immunotherapies for the major tropical parasitic diseases including malaria, gastrointestinal nematodes, filariasis and schistosomiasis.

— Ends —

Notes to editors:

The British Society for Parasitology was launched in 1962. Membership of the BSP now stands at around 1,000, with approximately 300 from overseas. The aims of the society are to promote understanding of and research in all areas of parasitological research. The British Society for Parasitology website is

The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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Story credits

More information is available from Dr Robin Flynn, Lecturer in Immunoparasitology, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 6493,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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