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Interdisciplinary Seed Fund Winners Announced

The 3 projects awarded the LIDC Interdisciplinary Seed Fund grants have been announced.

Prof. Jonathan Elliott, Vice-Principal (Research & Innovation), RVC and Chair of the Bloomsbury Research Committee awarded the grants at the LIDC Biennial Conference on the 11 May 2015.

The Scheme, launched in 2013, aims to support new collaborative research projects in international development between academics from at least two different Bloomsbury Colleges – LIDC members (Birkbeck, Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, SOAS and Royal Veterinary College).

Three grants of up to £6,000 each, per year, are awarded to support innovative ideas for international development research that are inter-sectoral and/ or interdisciplinary.

The winners are:

Project

Awardees

Development of a research proposal on zoonotic transmission of antimicrobial resistant bacteria

Mishal Khan (LSHTM) & Ana Mateus (RVC)

Towards the development of an interdisciplinary research programme investigating the impacts of changing food systems on nutrition and health outcomes

Barbara Haesler (RVC), Rosemary Green (LSHTM), Suneetha Kadiyala (LSHTM), Bhavani Shankar(SOAS) & Karen Lock (LSHTM)

Livestock production and zoonotic risk: Estimating the prevalence of porcine cysticercosis among swine in Cambodia

Ana Mateus (RVC) & James Rudge (LSHTM)

Applications for the the next round of grants will be open in July 2015

Please see the funding page for more details.

The interdisciplinary study looking at livestock production and zoonotic risk is being led by Ana Mateus, from the Royal Vetinary College. In collaboration with James Rudge, from LSHTM, the seed funding will allow them to conduct the testing of the pig blood samples.

Ana provides a project summary below:

Cysticercosis (Taenia solium) is a parasitic zoonosis that can cause have negative socio-economic impact in local meat trade and severe consequences for the health of those affected (e.g. neurological signs, seizures and, sometimes, death). Humans are the final host, but pigs act as animal reservoirs. Cysticercosis has been identified in humans in Cambodia (Jeon et al., 2011); however the burden of this disease remains unknown.  There is also a paucity of data on attitudes and behaviours of farmers that might be associated with zoonotic disease transmission across the pig production sector.

Cambodia is distinctive in both its rate of increasing meat consumption and the rapid rise in monogastric livestock production in recent years.  Smallholder production and backyard production systems are prevalent in Cambodia, with 90-95% of rural households keeping poultry, and many also raising pigs.

Our project aims to gather evidence of the prevalence of and risk factors for cysticercosis in different pig production systems. These activities will augment the ability to predict zoonotic risks in relation to changing livestock production systems in the Lower Mekong Region and strengthen animal health surveillance in a One Health perspective. The study region comprises of three provinces of south-central Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kampong Speu). This region was selected as it exhibits a diverse swine production landscape, and augments logistic feasibility due to proximity the capital city. Our research will be conducted in parallel with the PigFluCam project (PI: James Rudge) that is currently on-going in the region, in order to maximise use of resources. The PigFluCam project aims to investigate the prevalence and diversity of influenza viruses in pig populations in Cambodia. Through the PigFluCam project, swine producers and traders in this region have already been recruited at interviewed across five main categories of pig production units: 1. Smallholders (which tend to keep <10 backyard pigs); 2. Small/medium commercial farms (10-200 pigs); 3. Large commercial farms (>200 pigs); 4. Slaughterhouses.

The LIDC Seed funding that we have received will enable us to conduct the testing of the pig blood samples collected through the PigFluCam project thus generating the first dataset on seroprevalence of cysticercosis among swine in Cambodia. Furthermore, it will enable us to build and strengthen a collaborative research platform with local key stakeholders for future large-scale projects on emerging and endemic swine zoonoses in the region.