The ZELS DTP consortium

The ZELS DTP institutions comprise internationally-recognised centres of excellence for research and training in zoonotic diseases and livestock systems that will provide the interdisciplinary expertise required to address the research objectives of the ZELS initiative and deliver policy outcomes. Find out more about each of the partners and collaborators:

Institutions where students will be registered:

University of Glasgow (UoG)

Research Excellence: UoG stands out as a world-leading centre for zoonotic and livestock disease research in developing countries. UoG is playing a leading role in three of the BBSRC DFID grants funded under the Combating Infectious Diseases of Livestock for International Development (CIDLID) projects (totalling ~ £3 million), all of which involve partnerships in Tanzania, and one of which has been identified by UKCDS as a case study for demonstrating the international development impact of UK research.

Further Research Council funded research projects relevant to ZELS include projects on bacterial zoonoses, foot-and-mouth disease (held jointly with TPI) and vector ecology, all in Tanzania; five (two leads) BBSRC-Indian Department of Biotechnology (IDB) projects under the Farm Animal Health and Disease (FADH) call; and MRC grants for rabies research in Africa and Asia (with this work contributing to two impact case studies in the 2014 REF).

Since 2010, UoG has received research funding in excess of £14 million for research projects related to the ZELS remit. The high quality of UoGs research on zoonotic and livestock diseases in Africa was highlighted by the award of the Queen’s Anniversary for Higher and Further Education in 2014. UoG has shown substantial institutional commitment to excellence in this field through ten appointments over the past 7 years. UoG has also committed institutional funds to support research infrastructure in Tanzania, including establishment of a research support centre at NM-AIST.

Training and international experience: ZELS students registered at UoG will join a community of over 60 PhD students studying in the Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine. Existing synergies within the consortium are reflected by the fact that 6 PhD students registered at UoG are currently conducting their studies at Pirbright. The UoG ZELS team has substantial institutional experience of graduate student training in Africa, having supervised ten Tanzanian PhD students and at least 20 Tanzanian MSc students. These doctoral scientists are all still engaged with research in Tanzania, and several will play a key role as co-investigators and supervisors on ZELS research projects. UoG has acquired critical experience through its key roles in several research capacity building consortia in Africa funded through the Wellcome Trust’s African Institutions Initiative, acting as the primary northern partner to AfriqueOne and providing supervisory support and training for graduate students within Southern African Centre for Infectious Diseases and Surveillance (SACIDS).

Interdisciplinarity: UoG provides an excellent environment for interdisciplinary research, supported by cross-College centres such as the Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health and the Glasgow Centre for International Development. This is reflected in the joint award of a BBSRC grant for research and training in bacterial zoonoses, as well as two of the ZELS research grants, which are jointly led by the College of Medical, Veterinary and and Life Sciences and the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences.

Royal Veterinary College (RVC)

Research Excellence: RVC has built a very strong academic discipline in Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health and is currently a FAO Reference Centre in Veterinary Epidemiology. The RVC’s Centre for Emerging, Endemic and Exotic Diseases (CEEED) is a state-of-the-art facility designed to act as a multidisciplinary research hub where quantitative scientists, clinicians and laboratory scientists jointly tackle infectious diseases of animals and humans.

As a constituent member of the London International Development Centre, RVC plays an active role in a number of interdisciplinary research and training programmes to address complex international development challenges. Established in 2009, the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agricultural and Health (LCIRAH) brings together an international ensemble of researchers to develop new approaches and methodologies that integrate agricultural and health research.

RVC researchers lead two BBSRC/DFID CIDLID projects, two BBSRC-IDB FADH projects and a Gates-funded initiative on vaccines against East Coast Fever; they are also involved in the MRC program on Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases (ESEI). RVC has shown substantial institutional commitment to research in one health, zoonoses and livestock systems through at least 5 appointments over the past 5 years including academic posts in one health and agricultural economics. As detailed above, RVC has very actively engaged in multi-institutional partnerships to generate the multidisciplinary platforms needed to address complex animal and public health issues such as those under the scope of ZELS.

Training and international experience: The RVC ZELS team has substantial experience in training and capacity building in Africa and Asia, having successfully supervised PhD students from African and Asian countries addressing questions within the ZELS remit. In the last 10 years, the RVC ZELS team has delivered capacity building for veterinary services in 70+ countries.

Graduates from the RVC programs are currently playing key roles in animal health and zoonosis control in the target countries and some are included as co-investigators in our ZELS projects. The RVC is currently involved in international capacity building consortia such as the Wellcome Trust–funded SACIDS and the FAO Field Epidemiology Training Programs for Veterinarians in Asia. Of relevance to the ZELS initiative is the RVC expertise in delivering high-quality post-graduate training through distance learning education, as part of the University of London International Programmes – the world’s most experienced provider of distance and flexible learning.

Currently, the RVC offers two MSc programs (Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health, and Livestock Health and Production) comprising 17 240-hour modules available to our PhD students for distance learning. Since 2008, 60 African and Asian students have enrolled in these programs with support from the Commonwealth Commission. As a reflection of the pre-existing collaborations within this consortium, 6 PhD students currently conducting studies at The Pirbright Institute are registered with the RVC.

Interdisciplinarity: RVC provides a first-class environment for interdisciplinary research and training through formal, long-standing collaborations such as the MSc programs jointly offered with London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine as well as more recent Centres supporting cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research within the ZELS remit: CEED and LCIRAH. RVC is part of the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programme, and the UCL-led BBSRC funded DTP.

University of Cambridge (UoC)

Research Excellence: UoC is one of the world’s leading research universities, with key strategic initiatives and networks in Infectious Diseases and Public Health. Research and linkages in Africa are supported by a major capacity-building Cambridge-Africa programme. There is a strong interdisciplinary programme of research on zoonoses in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, which has undertaken pioneering research in MRSA, viral zoonoses in bats, including as part of the ESPA funded £3M Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa consortium (with IDS), and the €12M FP7 Antigone programme.

There are also major programmes in food borne zoonoses such as Salmonella and Campylobacter as well as Streptococcus suis. Excellent laboratory facilities up to BSL3 underpin the programme of work in Veterinary Medicine. UoC has shown substantial institutional commitment to research and capacity building in Africa, as evidenced by its multi-million pound Cambridge-Africa programme, which also has support from the Wellcome Trust, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the A.G Leventis Foundation and the Alborada Trust. Strengths in veterinary epidemiology, have been recently enhanced by the appointments of Restif, Conlan and Trotter into lectureship positions.

Training and international experience: ZELS students at UoC will be part of a community of 40-50 PhD students registered within Veterinary Medicine, most of whom study infectious diseases. The Department plays a central role in the Interdisciplinary BBSRC DTP and the Wellcome Trust Infection and Immunity Programme. There is a strong recent history of joint studentships with research institutes, including with TPI and AHVLA. The UoC ZELS team is also experienced in supervision of graduate student training in Africa.

Interdisciplinarity: UoC research programmes in Veterinary Medicine related to our ZELS project are firmly rooted in interdisciplinary approaches to research, especially combining mathematical and biological sciences, but more recently also incorporating very strong social science elements. These have been supported by a wide range of funders including ESPA, EU FP7 Antigone, Hefce and Defra, as well as a number of programmes in Social Anthropology.

Other ZELS leaders:

The Pirbright Institute (TPI)

Research Excellence: TPI is a world-class centre of excellence in research and surveillance of viral diseases of farm animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans. TPI is serving as a world reference laboratory for the OIE, FAO, EU and Defra, providing expertise and capacity building for investigations of specified high consequence viral diseases; including foot and mouth disease, Marek’s disease, bluetongue, rinderpest, peste des petits ruminants, and avian infectious bronchitis. As a major threat to both poultry and human health, Influenza virus is a key research area of the Institute’s science strategy.

Training and international experience: Group leaders have established research partnerships with many scientific institutions in developing countries, most within the ZELS focused research areas. These grants (worth over £24m) have been funded by the BBSRC, FAO, WHO, EU, DFID, DEFRA, Gates Foundation and industry. Research leaders at TPI have international experience in capacity-building through twinning projects that raise standards and support quality assurance of developing country laboratories to meet international guidelines.

TPI also provides extensive lab-based training on advanced molecular virology, epidemiology, immunology, vaccines and diagnostic technologies for many visiting scientists each year. Additionally, short disease-specific training courses on poultry health, foot-and-mouth disease and blue-tongue diagnosis, surveillance and vaccine matching are offered annually, empowering many researchers from developing countries with improved disease control strategies.

Above all, TPI places the highest emphasis on developing personal and professional skills for our PhD students. The training programme has been designed based on the requirements of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, which is supported by RCUK. With the aim of supporting postgraduate career development towards world-class research leaders, the Institute provides an extensive (over 55) range of professional development training courses for our PhD students.

Interdisciplinarity: TPI delivers scientific advances through interdisciplinary and transnational collaborations. Training of next generation scientists with multi- and inter-disciplinary skill bases and collaboration with other research and commercial organisations, as well as undertaking bidirectional engagement with the Institute’s stakeholders are core activities of the Institute. TPI is a member of the National Institutes of Bioscience, the umbrella organisation for research institutes strategically funded by BBSRC. This provides strategic links, most notably with the Roslin Institute.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM)

Research Excellence: LSTM is a leading international institution in the fight against infectious diseases. The School has extensive laboratory resources, including a £23 million state-of-the-art facility for developing new drugs, vaccines and pesticides. LSTM receives contracts and funding from a wide variety of national and international governmental and non-governmental organisations with a research and technical contract income of £46.6M (2012-13). LSTM currently holds 29 active research grants from research councils with more than £16M in funding. It also holds another 12 grants from DFID worth over £57M. LSTM’s research programme on the tsetse fly, the vector for African trypanosomiasis, is world leading and includes the largest operational tsetse colony in the UK. Researchers from LSTM were part of a world-wide team that sequenced the genome of the Glossina morsitans species of tsetse fly.

Training and international experience: LSTM offers a number of postgraduate programmes leading to University of Liverpool Masters, Diploma and Certificate awards, together with a variety of its own diplomas, certificates and shorter courses including its globally renowned courses in Tropical and Infectious Diseases. PhD students are embedded within research programmes, contributing towards delivery as well as receiving training in a broad range of skills. LSTM’s quality framework covers a wide range of strategies and policies to ensure that we continue to develop and maintain high standards of academic excellence.

Interdisciplinarity: The Wellcome Trust Liverpool Glasgow Centre for Global Health is a collaborative Centre between LSTM, the University of Liverpool and UoG. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, it provides support for on-going international research in a wide range of specialist areas. The Centre has delivered the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW), which supports the development of PhDs, creates opportunities to exchange ideas and offers training in the scientific, financial and administrative skills necessary to run an overseas PhD. LSTM is also a key partner in the South African Consortium for Research Excellence (SACORE) to strengthen research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa, developing south-south and strengthening existing north-south networks.

Key partners and collaborators:

Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a leading global institution for development research, teaching and learning, and impact and communications, based at the University of Sussex. Its vision is a world in which poverty does not exist, social justice prevails and sustainable economic growth is focused on improving human wellbeing. IDS believes that research knowledge can drive the change that must happen in order for this vision to be realised. The Health and Nutrition Cluster within IDS pursues programmes of research and policy engagement on health systems, nutrition and understandings of zoonotic diseases. The focus is on bringing a critical social science perspective to how people, especially the poor, address their health and nutrition-related needs and on how governments and other groups influence the performance of these sectors.

IDS co-hosts the ESRC STEPS Centre (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability), an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement centre uniting development studies with science and technology studies. Within its health and disease theme STEPS leads the ESPA-funded Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium, which aims to understand the relationships between ecosystems, zoonoses, health and wellbeing, focusing on four diseases in five countries. STEPS is also a partner in the ZELS-funded Myanmar Pig Partnership project. Other zoonoses-related STEPS research includes a project considering how bats and disease are understood in Ghana and another exploring the health threats linked to changes in pig production in Yunnan, China.

The Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST, Tanzania)

NM-AIST is one in a network of Pan-African Institutes of Science and Technology established to train and develop the next generation of African scientists. Although only established in 2011, NM-AIST has been accredited by the Tanzania Commission for Universities and is developing rapidly into a world-class research-intensive institution for postgraduate and post-doctoral research and training, with life sciences becoming one of the niche areas that takes advantage of the diversity and importance of agro-ecological systems in the region.

In recognition of this potential, NM-AIST has been selected to lead a proposed $4 million graduate research and training program ”Enhancing the Health and Productivity of Livestock (PEHPL) in East Africa” supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together with US and UK partners (including UoG), and is included as a core partner in the development of the Wellcome Trust-funded AfriqueOne consortium. Cleaveland is a Visiting Professor at NM-AIST (Jan 2012), and is a member of the NM-AIST Scientific Advisory Committee.

The Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology (ALIPB, Ethiopia)

ALIPB is a biomedical research institute of Addis Ababa University performing research related to diseases of public health and veterinary importance. The Institute runs MSc and PhD programmes in Tropical and Infectious Diseases and its academic staff consist of epidemiologists, immunologists, microbiologists, biostatisticians, physicians and veterinarians. Zoonotic tuberculosis is one of the important research programmes at ALIPB and it has established capacity for isolation of mycobacterial pathogens.

Due to its capability for tuberculosis research, it has been supported by international funding bodies such as Wellcome Trust, the Swedish International Development Agency, and the Norwegian Programme for Development, Research and Higher Education.

Ecole Inter-Etats des Sciences et Médecine Vétérinaires (EISMV, Senegal)

EISMV has developed a strong focus of research in zoonotic diseases including brucellosis, rabies, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis, and has played a key role in the Wellcome Trust-funded consortium, AfriqueOne. As an international institution linked with 13 other west African institutions, EISMV has great potential to further develop capacity for zoonoses research in west Africa, to enhance opportunities for exchange of information and expertise, and to act as a training hub for the ZELS programme in this region.

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU, Vietnam)

OUCRU is one of the Wellcome Trust’s Major Overseas Programmes and has been conducting clinical infectious disease and public health research in Vietnam since 1991. Research activities of the Unit encompass patient-orientated clinical research, as well as community-based research with a special focus on zoonotic diseases and the animal-human interface.

Over the last ten years, OUCRU has developed collaborations with regional and provincial offices of the Department of Animal Health (DAH) to develop One Health research programmes relating to zoonotic diseases, which initially primarily focused on avian influenza and endemic swine diseases such as Streptococcus suis. A major strategic award, entitled Vietnam Initiative on Zoonotic Infections (VIZIONS) funded by the Wellcome Trust aims to broadly characterize infectious diseases in domestic and wild animals within the same provinces where human cohort studies and hospital-based clinical syndromic surveillance is on-going.

The programme has a very strong commitment to capacity building for veterinary professionals, and to public engagement within communities to foster better understanding of risk perceptions, attitudes, and farming practices relating to zoonotic disease transmission. OUCRU is strategically placed to provide leadership and excellent high-calibre interdisciplinary training opportunities and act as a training hub within the ZELS consortium in south and southeast Asia.

University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS, Pakistan)

UVAS is a leading academic and research centre with major interests in avian viral diseases. UVAS has been collaborating with national and international research centres and commercial vaccine and diagnostic companies to improve quality of veterinary vaccines and diagnostics. The laboratory has state-of-the-art facilities for surveillance and molecular epidemiology of avian viral diseases. The laboratory has over 30 interdisciplinary faculty members and postgraduate students with expertise in molecular biology, virology, microbiology, cell culture, and vaccinology and provides training on disease diagnostics to field veterinarians and staff at regional diagnostic laboratories.

National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC, Pakistan)

NARC has been in the forefront of research on surveillance, diagnosis and control of avian influenza viruses since the detection of the first poultry epizootic of high pathogenicity H7N3 avian influenza virus in 1994. Since then, NARC has become a major centre of excellence in viral diseases of poultry with major investment on the surveillance, diagnosis and control of avian influenza in poultry. Recently NARC also established a dedicated research programme on animal diseases of zoonotic importance. In summary, NARC has highly trained scientists and facilities for undertaking research on avian influenza viruses.