Now in its eighth year, the Odile Bain Memorial Prize (OBMP) has been recognizing early career scientists who have made significant contributions to the medical and veterinary parasitology fields, in memory of Odile Bain, an exceptional and inspiring female scientist. The Prize has become a prestigious acknowledgement in the field and this year the evaluation committee, chaired by Professor Domenico Otranto, received a very high number of excellent nominations.
“The main focus of Odile’s activity”, said Professor Otranto at the award ceremony at World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP) conference, “was the study of evolution, systematics and biology of filaroids of veterinary and medical concern, and the relationship of these worms with other groups of nematodes. These studies led Odile towards the exploration of many aspects of the biology of vectors responsible for the transmission of these parasites and the interaction with the vertebrate host. Her research greatly impacted on current knowledge of filarial disease, chemotherapy, immunology, and many other aspects of parasitology. Therefore this prize was established to celebrate her outstanding contributions to medical and veterinary parasitology, and for her actions in encouraging productive collaboration among biologists, veterinarians, physicians, and fundamental and applied parasitologists worldwide”.
Goylette’s work contributed to the study of mass drug administration (MDA) through pioneering network graphing for evaluating MDA and neglected tropical diseases, with an added focus on the impact of key social determinants of persistent infection on marginalized individuals.
This year, the winners are Dr Goylette Chami, infectious disease epidemiologist at the Big Data Institute (BDI) and Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU) at the University of Oxford, UK, and Dr Barbora Pafčo, junior researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences, and at the University of Veterinary Sciences in Brno, Czech Republic.
“I am honoured and humbled to receive the Odile Bain Memorial Prize”, Dr Goylette Chami told us. “It is truly a vote of confidence as I am at the beginning of leading my own research group on schistosomiasis. Odile Bain is an inspirational parasitologist, with her work paving the way for the latest methodological developments in the study of filariae, especially by using cutting-edge technologies. I take great inspiration from her approach in my own career by combining methodological development with empirical discovery to test assumptions of existing practice and knowledge”.
The OBMP recognised Dr Chami’s excellent work as it significantly contributed to the study of mass drug administration (MDA) through pioneering network graphing for evaluating MDA and neglected tropical diseases. In addition, Goylette’s studies on key social determinants of persistent schistosomiasis and hookworm infection have been particularly appreciated for their impact on marginalized individuals.
During her postgraduate studies, Dr Chami collaborated with individuals from the Uganda Ministry of Health and took many field trips in Eastern Uganda around Lake Victoria. Engaging directly with study communities directly inspires and informs her research. Her research interests concern improving the treatment of parasitic worms in sub-Saharan Africa.
Barbora’s merits are in relation to the significant contribution to the field of strongylid nematodes infecting sympatric primates (e.g., western lowland gorillas, central chimpanzees) and humans, in the Central African Republic.
“My research programme focuses on large-scale human participant cohorts in East Africa. I spent years developing new approaches for improving mass drug administration for neglected tropical diseases. My long-term goals now are to better understand individual variation in schistosome transmission and associated morbidities. I hope to contribute to the development of control and treatment strategies that are tailored to individuals and communities and integrated within local health systems”.
Dr Barbora Pafčo’s merits as an outstanding early career scientist are in relation to the significant contributions to the field of strongylid nematodes infecting sympatric primates (e.g., western lowland gorillas, central chimpanzees) and humans, in the Central African Republic.
“I am truly honoured to receive the Odile Bain Memorial Prize. For me, it is proof of the quality of my work”, said Dr Pafčo. “Sometimes it is difficult to evaluate one’s work and sometimes even find its purpose, which every researcher is likely to experience at some point. Winning the Odile Bain Memorial Prize gives me new energy for further research. I would like to start my own team focused on the diversity, distribution and coevolution of nematodes with host species”.
Dr Pafčo is interested in parasite ecology, host-parasite relationship, and molecular diversity of pathogens. Her work is focused on studying strongylid nematodes, recently shedding light on the factors leading to gastritis caused by parasitic nematodes in mountain gorillas. She has also been studying the diversity and distribution of strongylid nematodes in cattle in Czech Republic and the worldwide distribution of nematodes of the genus Necator, with implications for the potential of drug resistance or zoonotic risk. The approaches employed in Barbora’s research combine classical and experimental parasitology.
The nominations for the 2022 Odile Bain Memorial Prize are already open. Please visit the Prize website for the criteria and instructions on how to submit nominations.