February 2014 Lab of the Month - Welburn Lab

Sue Welburn is Professor of Medical and Veterinary Epidemiology, and is Head of the Division of Pathway Medicine at Little France. 

Sue started her academic career at the Tsetse Research Laboratories in Bristol, and worked for several years at the University of Glasgow, before joining the University of Edinburgh in 2000.  She currently has projects in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Tanzania, focussing on interventions for disease control.  In addition to running the Division of Pathway Medicine, Sue is a Director of the University of Edinburgh International Development Centre, and most recently has been appointed Director of the Edinburgh Global Health Academy and Assistant Principal Global Health.

The main focus of her lab is on the design and use of molecular diagnostic tools for the study and management of sleeping sickness and animal trypanosomiaisis, which encompasses research ranging from ‘grass-roots’ fieldwork in Africa to laboratory-based dissection of the problem of trypanosomiasis at the gene level. 

One of the big projects currently running in the Welburn lab is ICONZ

ICONZ is a European Commission FP7 project involving 21 very diverse partners from Africa and Europe. ICONZ stands for “Integrated Control of Neglected Zoonoses” – diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans.  ICONZ aims to tackle eight neglected zoonoses – Anthrax, Bovine Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Cysticercosis, Echinococcosis, Leishmaniasis, Rabies and Human African Trypanosomiasis.

How is ICONZ different?

What’s unique about ICONZ is its truly interdisciplinary nature.  It is divided into 12 “work packages” and each one is a piece in the jigsaw. Some concern pooling research and identifying gaps. Others are about improving disease control tools or assessing the economic impact. Four of the work packages involve developing and testing cost effective strategies for intervention, whether for control or prevention. ICONZ also involves training, and is currently working alongside EC FP7 project OH-NEXTGEN to create a web-based training diploma in One Health.

As well having it’s own own communications teams, ICONZ is working very closely with EC FP7 project ADVANZ – Advocacy for Neglected Zoonoses to convince governments and donor bodies that the strategies developed by ICONZ should become a reality.

Who is involved from University of Edinburgh?

  • Sue Welburn is Co-ordinator
  • Iona Beange is Communications and Project Officer
  • Pauline McManus is Research Programme Administrator
  • Anna Walker is Policy Advisor and completed a PhD on Policy considerations for One Health.
  • Marie Ducrotoy is a qualified vet and PhD student focusing on brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis in Nigeria and Morocco.
  • Kevin Bardosh is a Social Science PhD student and ICONZ Research Assistant looking at public health at the Animal-Human-Ecosystem Interface.
  • Christine Acup comes from Uganda and has just completed her PhD on Under-reporting of sleeping sickness.
  • Christina Santirso is a PhD student looking at bovine trypanosomiasis in Nigeria
  • Walter Okello is from Kenya and is working towards a PhD in socioeconomics.
  • Vincenzo Lorusso is a PhD student looking at tick-borne diseases.

And what’s the most exciting thing about ICONZ?

It’s within our power as a global community, to intervene to help to improve the livelihoods and quality of life of millions of people.  Put simply, if you want to combat poverty, what greater gift to give communities than their health?”

  • Prof Sue Welburn, Co-ordinator of ICONZ

More information can be found on the ICONZ website: http://www.iconzafrica.org/

Selection of Publications from University of Edinburgh and ICONZ

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