Increasing opportunities within the BSP
News was shared at the BSP Annual General Meetings by President Maria-Gloria Basanez of an increase in Meeting Travel Awards, allowing up to £250 to be awarded from the society for postgraduate students wishing to attend BSP conferences each year during their studies. Additionally, students from Low and Middle Income Countries can now apply for three years worth of funding in one go, allowing for £750 to be awarded to those planning to attend a BSP conference.
The BSP is committed to improving accessibility of its membership and conferences to all, and BSP were happy to hear feedback from delegates in Manchester on the #BSPequality board on how to increase equality and diversity in its membership and conference attendees.
Russell Stothard awarded the C.A. Wright Medal:
Homage to Christopher Wright and a career in cross disciplinary schistosomiasis research and control
Russell Stothard was the recipient of the 2019 C.A. Wright Medal, much to the pleasure of the society due to Russ’s long-standing and supportive relationship with the BSP. Russell joined the BSP in 1992, during his PhD studying schistosomiasis on Zanzibar. He stated from the offset of his talk that becoming a member was one of his best decisions he made in his career due to the connections, collaborations and cross-overs he had realised through joining the society.
Russell spent his early career at the Natural History Museum within the laboratory set up many years earlier by the medals namesake Christopher Wright. No only this his research also followed in the footsteps of Wright, particularly by seeing the importance of medical malacology (i.e. the study of freshwater snails of medical importance) and field based schistosomiasis transmission research in increasing our understanding of both the control and biology of schistosomes and many other Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Russell has consistently made outstanding contributions to parasitology research, been a mentor to many, particularly in his current position at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and has directed the establishment of COUNTDOWN, an implementation research consortium. All that’s left to say is congratulations to Russell on this mile stone achievement.
President’s Medal awarded to Mattie Pawlowic
This year saw the arrival of new President’s Medal to be awarded to an outstanding Early Career Researcher, who has already made big contributions to the field of parasitology and is set to make further advances in the field.
Mattie Pawlowic was given the honour of being the first to take it home, after being nominated for establishing high-technology tools to probe the fundamental and applied biology of the apicomplexan parasite Cryptosporidium.
Mattie’s collaborative work helped turn a previously intractable pathogen into an experimentally tractable pathogen for experimentalists, providing the genetic tools and approaches to identify new drug targets for Cryptosporidium, a diarrhoeal diseases exerting considerable burden particularly for children in developing countries. She continues to be a leader in the field, whilst also being committed to her teaching, public engagement and delivering communicable research in her new role at University of Dundee. Congratulations Mattie!
Following medal awards the conference dinner commenced to thank organisers and all delegates for attending. The traditional BSP ceilidh was once again in full swing, with delegates from around the globe making new acquaintances on the dance floor and stretching their legs after 2 days of talks.
The final day of the conference started once again with delegates giving presentations on current research in multiple streams. One such speaker being Marijke Langenberg, who presented the much-heard about and fascinating research advances in Leiden working with controlled Schistosoma mansoni infections in volunteers. By developing a protocol for infecting volunteers with schistosome males only, their group are able to accelerate research into schistosomiasis vaccines using a human model, whilst avoiding severe pathology associated with the disease.
A science communication session rounded everything off, with the first talk from Andy Miah promoting the novel ways we are able to communicate our research effectively and promote ones research going forward. Sheena Cruickshank then gave an insight into the work being conducted at the University of Manchester in engaging and raising awareness for infection and immunology in non-native English speakers, a group that can often be misinterpreted in a clinical setting due to issues with translation and miscommunication.
All in all, another fantastic meeting and we look forward to the next BSP Spring Meeting 2020 in Edinburgh.
Additional information: The BSP 2019 Autumn Symposium ‘Post-genomic progress in helminth Parasitology’ will be held at Queens University Belfast on the 23rd of September, followed by the Irish Society for Parasitology meeting in Riddle Hall the following day.
BSP Acknowledge: Organisers Kathryn Else and Ilaria Russo, other staff and students from at the University of Manchester, Qiagen, British Ecological Society, eLIFE, Parasites and Vectors, Elsevier, Nikon, Thermo/Fisher Scientific, Cambridge University Press, New Elgland BioLabs and The Royal Society for a successful BSP Spring Meeting.