The prize was awarded for their project "Exploring the viability of excreta sampling for monitoring Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT)."
The project aims to develop a new low-resource tool for monitoring HAT, or 'sleeping sickness', as the disease approaches eradication. Their entry is based on the technique of collecting and concentrating the excreta from mosquitos, which has already been used to detect malaria, filarial worm and trypanosomes in the laboratory. This tool is now ready to be applied to detecting the presence of HAT within a community, helping to identify appropriate areas for targeted vector control.
Joseph said: “We are delighted to receive the first NTD Innovation Prize. It is an exciting time for sleeping sickness research with the disease targeted for zero cases by 2030. But ongoing surveillance is an obstacle to overcome, as it is for several NTDs. It is great to know that the judges also consider this an important issue and are enthusiastic about the project we have put forward.”
Dr. Melachio is a medical entomologist based at the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases (CRID) in Yaoundé, Cameroon and a Research Career Development Fellow with the Partnership for Increasing the Impact of Vector Control (PIIVEC). Joseph is a PhD student within LSTM’s Department of Vector Biology, working in Dr Lisa Reimer’s group. Dr Reimer said: “It’s great to see early career researchers like Joe and Tito apply a creative and collaborative approach to addressing long-standing challenges of NTD surveillance. I’m sure this innovation prize will also help them establish independence and prominence within their research fields.”