Born in Kenya, and a graduate of Nottingham University (BSc Zoology) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MSc-Medical Parasitology; PhD-immunology of schistosomiasis), Harrison’s interests in the development of vaccines against schistosomiasis and onchocerciasis took him on various postdoctoral scientific adventures to Kenya, California and Egypt before he found a more permanent home in Liverpool. Now, leading the Centre for Snakebite Research & Interventions (CSRI) and Professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Harrison and his team conduct a variety of research activities with the objective to ‘improve the treatment of snakebite’. This includes the provision of antivenom to treat rural snakebite victims in Nigeria through a collaboration (the EchiTAb Study Group) with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, the University of Oxford and antivenom producers in UK and Costa Rica. This collaboration has resulted in the provision of 34,000 vials of new antivenoms (17,000 life-saving treatments) to resolve the crisis in antivenom supply to Nigeria. Harrison is also am a member of the executive committee of the Global Snakebite Initiative which aims to raise the awareness of, and stimulate new funding to address the neglected problem of snakebite that primarily affects the most impoverished and geopolitically disadvantaged rural communities of Africa and Asia - who rarely have affordable access to effective healthcare.
Professor Harrison’s research focus is to exploit advances in ‘high volume-high throughput’ gene and protein technologies to develop new antivenoms that are (i) more toxin-specific (to improve efficacy), (ii) more cross-generically effective (to improve geographical clinical utility), (iii) clinically safer and, for the first time, (iv) effective against the local tissue-destructive effects of envenoming. The intent is to design an antivenom-production system whose clinical and logistic improvements provide compelling incentives to international health agencies and commercial antivenom manufacturers to improve the delivery of effective, safe and affordable snakebite therapies to the rural poor African and Asian communities that most need it.
The group is also keen to harness the pharmacological potential of snake venom proteins to develop novel drugs for cardiovascular, cancer and neurological diseases. Our resources (venoms, venom gland EST data, toxin-specific antibodies) have also enrolled us in diverse collaborations involving venom toxin evolution, venom proteomics, antivenom production, pre-clinical and clinical assessment of new antivenoms.
- Secretary, European Section, International Society of Toxinology
- Member of Editorial Boards of Toxicon, J Venom Research, Guest Editor PLoS NTD
- Member, Antivenom Advisory Committee for the Public Health England
- Member, Scientific Steering Committee, Global Snakebite Initiative
- Expert Advisor, WHO Guidelines for the Production, Control and Regulation of Snake Antivenom Immunoglobulins
Professor Rob Harrison's presentation on Tropical snakebite.
In The Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection, Henry Stewart Talks.
Retrieved May 15, 2020, from https://hstalks.com/bs/3973/.