I am a Professor of Parasitology with an interest in cutaneous leishmaniasis, both from biological and anthropological perspectives. I am based in the School of Life Sciences at Keele University in the UK. I am very proud to be co-leading the interdisciplinary ECLIPSE project and hope we will be able to make a real difference to the lives of people with cutaneous leishmaniasis.
I was born in Birmingham, UK and studied Applied Zoology at the University of Leeds where I first developed an interest in parasites and the diseases they cause. I moved on to do a PhD at Bangor University on the neglected tropical disease (NTD) schistosomiasis. My project involved the study of cercarial elastase, a protein released by schistosome worms in order to burrow through human skin. Following a postdoctoral position at the Institute of Cancer Research, I returned to the field of parasitology to join the research group of Professor Debbie Smith at Imperial College London and later at the University of York where I studied the cell biology of the protozoan parasites Leishmania spp. and Trypanosoma brucei. I was part of a very diverse and lively research group and have very fond memories of this time.
I was appointed at Keele University in my first academic post as Lecturer in Bioscience in 2013 and took on the task of setting up a new kinetoplastid culture laboratory. I secured funding from the Royal Society, Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council to work on Leishmania. I was also awarded a Newton Fund Institutional Links grant to work on a camel parasite, Trypanosoma evansi together with collaborator Professor Somaia Abouakkada from Alexandria University in Egypt. My lab-based research focuses on kinetoplastid parasite biology and the development of new therapeutics. Working with the ECLIPSE team has given me a much greater understanding of the challenges around treatment of parasitic diseases and the need to consider healthcare access and psychosocial aspects when developing disease control strategies.
I have recently been appointed as the Vice President of the British Society for Parasitology (BSP). I am also leading the WHO Working Group on Skin NTDs (psychosocial aspects) to support the delivery of the WHO Roadmap for NTDs (2021-2030).
I was promoted to Professor at Keele University in January 2022. My inaugural lecture is available online if you would like to learn more about my career and research journey.