New honour for member of One Health team

Published: 18 July 2017

Rabies pioneer Professor Sarah Cleaveland receives new Royal Society award, to add to the her and the One Health team's previous recent accolades in recognition of her international work in the zoonotic field.

Professor Sarah Cleaveland, Professor of Comparative Epidemiology based at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, has been awarded the prestigious Leeuwenhoek Medal from the Royal Society for her pioneering work towards the eradication of rabies throughout the world.

As part of this, she has been invited to deliver the Leeuwenhoek lecture in 2018. The Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture is given triennially as an honour bestowed for high achievement in scientific research. 

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “The Royal Society has a long-standing tradition of celebrating the best and brightest scientists. The winners of this year’s medals and awards have made outstanding contributions to their field and I congratulate them for their distinguished work and the advancement of science as a whole.”

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Professor Cleaveland was also recently awarded the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Frink Award. The ZSL Frink Award, which has been given out every year since 1975, is given for significant and original contributions to the development of zoology. Professor Cleaveland was presented with the award at a ceremony in London on 20 June.

Professor Cleaveland also led the team that won the BBSRC Innovator of the Year award in the category for International Impact. That team includes Professor Dan Haydon, head of the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, and researchers Richard Reeve, Jo Halliday and Tiziana Lembo. One Health is one of the university's areas of research excellence.

The team also recently won the International Impact award at the BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year 2017 event, for their work relating to the development of new strategies to control livestock diseases in Tanzania, including foot-and-mouth and malignant catarrhal fever.

This year’s BBSRC awards were the first to specifically recognise the ‘International Impact’ of BBSRC-funded projects. The category highlighted those researchers and teams who have driven impact in an international context and addressed overseas development aid goals.

As part of the prize the team were presented with £10,000 to help towards future research projects. The funds will be used both for sustaining the foot-and-mouth surveillance platform in northern Tanzania, and to hold community workshops to discuss implementation of disease control measures, including livestock vaccination programmes.

BBSRC One health450

Professor Cleaveland said: “I am genuinely stunned to receive the Frink Award from the Zoological Society of London, which is a great personal honour, but also one that reflects the hard work and great achievements of the whole team.

“We were also really thrilled to hear that we had won the award in the BBSRC category of International Impact. The achievements recognised by the award reflect the work of a fantastic group of researchers from the University of Glasgow and Tanzanian institutions, alongside other UK and international partners.

“The BBSRC’s support has been absolutely critical in enabling us to build the platform for livestock disease research in Tanzania and the results that we now see have been made possible only because of the partnerships and research infrastructure that has been established.”

Professor Cleaveland is one of four University of Glasgow researchers currently leading projects within the Livestock, Livelihoods and Health research programme in Tanzania, funded under the Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems programme. This work focuses on a group of infections that have been largely neglected, but are an important cause of common disease syndromes in people, such as fever, and further affect people’s livelihoods through production impacts on livestock.

The research findings from this programme are shedding light on the true impacts of these neglected diseases, and are helping to identify effective strategies of control, particularly for people in poor communities who are most affected by these disease problems and struggle most to access health services.

Professor Cleaveland is a strong advocate of using ‘One Health’ approaches in her work – building multidisciplinary teams that involve medical, veterinary and social scientists – and is committed to building and sustaining partnerships with African institutions and researchers as an integral part of the research.

This approach, combined with working across disciplinary and geographic boundaries, is at the core of Professor Cleaveland’s success. By continuing to build new links and find new ways of looking at disease challenges, she hopes to continue to create positive changes in the lives of disadvantaged people.

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First published: 18 July 2017

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