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8th July 2019
Safeguarding Human and Animal Health through £1 million in new Translational Research Awards from The Bloomsbury SET

Five exciting new grants for Knowledge Exchange have been announced to undertake studies aimed at combatting infectious diseases and resistance to antibiotics. These awards are sponsored by The Bloomsbury SET (standing for ‘Science, Economics and Technology’) – a £5 million research programme funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund to deliver on the objectives of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Led by the Royal Veterinary College, the Bloomsbury SET is also made up of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), SOAS University of London, and the London International Development Centre (LIDC). This consortium is driving forward innovation by investing in projects and fellowships that will turn scientific research into practical tools with real world applications. Its focus is on the welfare of humans and animals through a ‘One Health’ approach, developing new vaccines, diagnostic tools and mathematical models.

The projects announced today will benefit both the UK and/or low-medium income countries, whilst also leveraging funds from industry.

MSD Animal Health is the key industrial partner with Dr Virginia Marugan-Hernandez, Prof Damer Blake and Prof Fiona Tomley (RVC) together with Dr Francisco Olmo (LSHTM), in a project aiming to reduce drug-dependency in the poultry industry. Their project is to develop a vaccine against the re-emerging disease necrotic enteritis and target zoonotic organisms that transfer disease from chickens to humans, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella.

Dr Susana Campino and Prof Taane Clark (LSHTM) are working with Dr Martin Walker (RVC) and a range of collaborators based in malaria endemic countries to study neglected malaria parasites. They are creating a large data-set and developing a low-cost, rapid diagnostic tool to distinguish all six human malaria species.

A fascinating novel project involving “citizen scientists” in Sri Lanka led by Prof Ayona Silva-­Fletcher, Dr Tierney Kinnison (RVC), and Dr Simon Rofe (SOAS) is examining the potential role of urban and rural wildlife in the problem of antimicrobial resistance and contamination of the environment. This project engages collaborators and researchers at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

The final two projects will enable researchers to focus on the global threat from TB:

  1. Prof Richard White, Dr Rebecca Harris and Prof Janet Seeley (LSHTM), working with Dr Miqdad Asaria (LSE), will use social science, mathematical modelling, epidemiology and health economic methods to estimate the expected future impact of new TB vaccines in South Africa, India and China based on recent trial results.
  2. Prof Alison Grant, Prof Anna Vassall, Dr Fiammetta Bozzani and Dr Aaron Karat (LSHTM), working alongside Dr Justin Pankhurst (LSE), will use system dynamics modelling to design interventions to reduce TB transmission in South Africa by enabling transparent, evidence-based decision-making. Their project involves collaborators from Edinburgh, Sussex, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town universities, and the Africa Health Research Institute.

This announcement takes the total number of projects funded by The Bloomsbury SET to eleven, meaning it has distributed over £3 million in grant funding since April 2018.

Main image: South Africa Clinic Waiting Room from the work led by Prof Alison Grant at LSHTM (source copyright Ben Gilbert Wellcome, used with permission)

Below: Parasites and poultry – images from the work led by Dr Virginia Marugan-Hernandez at the RVC.