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CA Wright Medal for Trust-funded parasitologist

14 Jun, 2011
Dr Simon Brooker

Dr Simon Brooker

April’s spring meeting of the British Society for Parasitology saw Dr Simon Brooker, a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow, awarded the prestigious CA Wright medal.

This prize has been awarded annually since 1985 to recognise the outstanding contribution to the field of parasitology from a member of the Society. Dr Brooker is a reader in Tropical Epidemiology and Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, working full time at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme in Nairobi, Kenya.

“I was very honoured to receive the Medal, particularly because many of the previous recipients work on neglected tropical diseases.,” said Dr Brooker. “Credit needs to be given to them as they have raised the profile of these diseases.”

An epidemiologist with a particular interest in helminth (parasitic worm) infections, Brooker also had the honour of presenting this year’s CA Wright Medal lecture entitled “Mapping this wormy world: aah the kids have malaria too!” The title is a nod to a 1947 paper, ‘This Wormy World’ by Norman Stoll, the first systematic attempt to measure the worldwide impact of parasitic worm infections. This work has continued in Brooker and colleagues’ groundbreaking project of the same name, aiming to produce an open-access resource collating all available data on parasitic worm infection throughout the world. Eventually the plan is to have a complete global atlas of all neglected tropical diseases.

Split into two parts, the lecture first discussed how mapping of diseases to specific geographical locations has occurred through history.  The second half detailed research into malaria control in African schoolchildren, who have some of the highest levels of Plasmodium infection in the world, but are the group least likely to be protected by malaria interventions. These children often suffer from helminth co-infections. Many children undergo deworming programmes at school and Dr Brooker has been evaluating the use of a school-based programme that targets several parasites including worms and malaria at the same time.

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