Best Collaboration in Policy & Practice Winner

Professor Katie Hampson - Working towards eradicating rabies

Professor Katie Hampson and her colleagues at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine are leading research to eradicate rabies in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Research led by Professor Hampson has generated critical evidence that has played a key role in persuading international agencies - the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) - to advocate for the global elimination of rabies deaths by 2030.

The research team are also generating detailed estimates of the global burden of rabies and informing prevention, control and elimination strategies.  

Most recently, this research has been central to the development of World Health Organization (WHO) protocols for verification of freedom from disease through mass vaccination of domestic dogs and influential in shaping policy on human post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) needed to prevent the onset of this fatal disease in people bitten by rabid dogs.  

As the science lead of the WHO Rabies Modeling Consortium, Professor Hampson’s work was instrumental in informing the latest WHO position paper (2018) that now recommends a shorter simplified 1-week PEP regimen that is more practical and affordable for patientsThese recommendations guided Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in their decision to invest in life-saving human post-exposure vaccines in their 2021-2025 strategy.  

Previously, Professor Hampson led a large consortium to estimate the global burden of canine rabies, bringing together a large number of contributors from many rabies endemic countries.  The resulting publication in the Lancet (cited over 600 times) is widely used by advocates of rabies elimination. The team have collectively advised the WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), as well as national governments on large-scale rabies surveillance and control programs including countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and South Africa.  

This work involves training, mentorship and support of LMIC scientists including graduate students and early-career scientists in Africa, Asia and Latin AmericaResearch led by these LMIC scientists has included a range of collaborations with national governments on the implementation and evaluation of approaches to rabies control and prevention and demonstrates the valuable synergistic benefits of analysis and modelling carried out in parallel with interventions.   

These diverse and long-standing collaborations with major global animal and public health agencies constitute a remarkable example of the relationship between research and policy development between the academic and non-academic partners. The quality, creativity and innovation of this research is recognised through sequential Wellcome Trust Fellowships, and numerous other competitively acquired research awards.   

Katie and her team have been recognised for influencing policy on a global level, with their research contributing to the World Health Organization’s recognition that it is now feasible to eliminate global canine rabies.

Working towards eradicating rabies

Professor Katie Hampson talks about her ambitions to eradicate rabies in the poorest parts of the world.