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Dr Goylette Chami holding prize

Dr Goylette Chami has been awarded the Odile Bain Memorial Prize for contributions to medical parasitology, the branch of science that studies parasites that infect humans.

Dr Chami leads a research group at the Big Data Institute and Nuffield Department of Population Health, where she studies diseases caused by parasitic worms in Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on schistosomiasis and hookworm.​ The Odile Bain Memorial Prize is awarded annually by Parasites & Vectors in association with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, for innovative parasitology research of medical or veterinary importance.

An estimated one billion of the world’s poorest individuals live in areas where schistosomiasis is widespread. The disease affects the urinary tract or intestines and can cause damage to organs such as the bladder, kidneys and liver. Dr Chami works to improve current treatment guidelines, develop targeted approaches to schistosomiasis prevention and management, and identify new treatment strategies.

On receiving the prize, Dr Chami said, ‘I am excited and honoured to receive the Odile Bain Memorial Prize. I am fascinated by the study of parasitology, in particular parasitic worms, and the challenge of uncovering the complex relationships between disease, human behaviour, environmental factors, and large-scale treatment campaigns. My work has benefited from a number of fantastic mentors and collaborators, especially my close colleagues from Uganda who continue to inspire me every day.

‘I want to use this prize to continue researching how to improve the lives of people with schistosomiasis. This debilitating, chronic disease continues to affect hundreds of millions of people—the most marginalized in their societies—despite widely available treatment. I am really looking forward to combining state-of-the-art analytical methods with large-scale fieldwork and epidemiology to improve the understanding of disease progression related to schistosomiasis.”

The award was presented today at the 28th Conference of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology.

Domenico Otranto, Chair of the Odile Bain Memorial Prize Committee said, ‘Dr Chami has been recognised for significant contributions to the study of mass drug administration through the establishment of a new field of complex network analysis for its evaluation. Her studies on the key social determinants of persistent schistosomiasis and hookworm infection were particularly appreciated by the selection panel mainly for their impact on marginalized individuals.’

Hear more about Dr Chami’s work in this interview and animation created by the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences.