I studied Biology (BSc National University of Ireland) and Animal Parasitology (MSc University of Wales) before my PhD investigating the vectors of bovine onchocerciasis in UK (Liverpool University/ Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, 1987). I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Advanced Training Fellowship (1990-1995), and worked for a time on host location by parasitic hymenoptera at the Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville (Florida, USA). I worked also as a post-doctoral researcher in UK, the Netherlands and Mali (with the Onchocerciasis Control Programme). I joined LSTM faculty in 1998.
My main research interest is in the behaviour of arthropod disease vectors, from characterisation of basic vector behaviour to understanding how those behaviours might change in response to insecticide challenge or shifts in host availability. The pursuit of new vector control opportunities underpins this work. There are many knowledge gaps in our understanding of key behavioural events in the adult life of important mosquito vectors and these studies, in addition to their direct value, have the potential to guide the design of new vector control methods.
Peridomestic behaviour of African malaria vectors and the impact of insecticides
Though the most effective and widely used malaria vector control measures use insecticides to target malaria mosquitoes within the human home, very little is known about behaviour in this environment. We are using robust mosquito tracking technology in the laboratory in Tanzania to describe in detail the behaviour of local populations of Anopheles vectors. Research is addressing key questions about house entry and exit, resting behaviour and movement in three-dimensional space, to deliver an evidence-based characterisation of anopheline mosquito behaviour in the human home. Funded by MRC-UK
Dengue in Burkina Faso: establishing a vector biology evidence base for risk assessment and vector control strategies for an emerging disease
After decades of neglect, dengue is finally being recognised as an emerging public health threat across Africa. In Burkina Faso, a number of recent dengue outbreaks have demonstrated the magnitude of that threat while also highlighting the lack of information about the mosquitoes involved and the poor level of preparedness when mounting an effective response to outbreaks. Dengue epidemiology, prevention and control require detailed knowledge of the vectors and their biology, but little appropriate information is available for Aedes aegypti and the other potential mosquito vectors in Burkina Faso. The proposed study aims to fill those knowledge gaps by carrying out a series of essential basic studies on the breeding, biting and resting habits and behaviours of mosquitoes found in human habitations, to evaluate their relative importance in transmission of dengue (and other viruses) in at-risk communities in the capital city, Ouagadougou. The study has added value because the main mosquito species involved are also vectors of chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses, all of which represent an ever-present threat to urban communities in Africa and elsewhere. Funded under a fellowship awarded to Dr Athanase Badolo by WHO/ TDR
Improving the efficacy of malaria prevention in an insecticide-resistant Africa
Impressive reductions in malaria have occurred throughout sub-Saharan Africa over the past 12 years. However progress has not been geographically uniform and there are some high-burden countries where, despite good coverage with long lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs), the main preventative measure recommended by WHO, parasite prevalence rates and mortality from malaria remain obstinately high. Burkina Faso falls into this category. Despite two successful national LLIN distribution campaigns 60 % of children are persistently infected with malaria. Increased resistance to the pyrethroid insecticides used in LLINs and extensive transmission by mosquitoes biting outside the home, or at times when people are not protected by LLINs, are likely reducing the impact of LLINs but the relative importance of these poorly characterised vector factors, in relation to other human or health system factors has never been determined. This is a collaborative project aiming to collect extensive empirical data and use models of malaria transmission to quantify the level of protection provided by LLINs in an insecticide resistant Africa. Via a detailed understanding of the factors limiting the efficacy of current tools we will identify the most cost effective, complementary interventions that would drive malaria transmission towards zero. Funded under a Wellcome Trust collaborative award in science
I contribute to a range of topics in vector biology and control on all of LSTM’s modules and programmes (DTMH, BSc, MSc and LIFE340 Topics in Global Health)
As a member of a number of WHO/TDR committees for dengue and vector control, I was a lead writer on vector control in the WHO documents:
I am a member of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, a collaboration between Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the University of Liverpool and Public Health England.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and an associate editor of PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases