Published: 18 May 2018 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 10:57:12

Joanne Webster, Professor of Parasitic Diseases at the Royal Veterinary College, has received the significant honour of being one of three finalists in the International Impact category of the prestigious BBSRC Innovator of the Year Award 2018.

This award recognises individuals who have harnessed the potential of their research to create real social or commercial impact.

Professor Webster’s research has focused on improving human and animal health in West Africa through the study of zoonotic diseases – those diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Part of Professor Webster’s research has focused on the control and elimination of human schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia), a deadly tropical disease which is spread throughout Africa (and beyond) by parasitic flatworms. Professor Webster, within the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, was responsible for the design, implementation and evaluation of large-scale sustainable control programs, which contributed to changing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) strategic plan and to a positive vision for eliminating the disease as a public health problem by 2025.

An important milestone in her research was the discovery that disease spread in several countries was driven not by human schistosome species as assumed, but by a hybridization of the schistosome species from humans and their livestock combined. This showed the importance of a One Health approach to disease control, where human medicine, animal veterinary care and multiple sectors must work together to achieve public health outcomes.

Joanne Webster, Professor of Parasitic Diseases at the Royal Veterinary College, said: "It was such an honour and true delight to be nominated and subsequently short-listed for the 2018 Innovator of the Year award. The broad recognition that being a finalist for this award provides should also help strengthen our impact towards revised international guidelines for schistosomiasis control."

Notes to Editors

For more information please contact: Uche Graves or Alex Cassells / Press Line: 0800 368 9520

About the Royal Veterinary College

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school, and is a constituent College of the federation of the University of London.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences, being ranked third worldwide for veterinary medicine and in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences degrees.
  • It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research-led institution, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the RVC was ranked as the top vet school in the Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science unit of assessment, with 79% of submitted academics producing world-class or internationally excellent research.
  • The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals; the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital, and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.

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