Quadram scientist receives two prestigious international partnerships

26 March 2021

Quadram Institute scientist Dr Alison Mather has been granted two prestigious international partnership awards to build collaborations with researchers in New Zealand and The Netherlands.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded four-year programmes, which fall within their Global Highlight area of fostering a One Health approach to diseases of zoonotic origin. These awards will involve activities such as the exchange visits of scientists (initially online), development of collaborative research programmes, a seminar series to widen exposure of the science and research, and workshops to consolidate plans for future research proposals and wider impact.

The partnership with One Health Aotearoa (OHA), an alliance of over 100 infectious disease researchers from multiple organisations across New Zealand, provides a unique opportunity to share complementary skills and expertise in the genomic epidemiology and control of zoonotic pathogens of common interest to both NZ and the UK. The award will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and training in areas of food safety, phylodynamic modelling, and cutting-edge sequencing and metagenomics.

Professors David Murdoch (University of Otago) and Nigel French (Massey University), co-Directors of One Health Aotearoa said “This is an exciting opportunity to further develop our collaboration with Dr Mather and her colleagues at the Quadram Institute. One Health Aotearoa is committed to reducing the impact of zoonotic pathogens and antimicrobial resistance through the application of new tools and techniques that enable us to understand how pathogens emerge and are transmitted between animals and humans. There has never been a more important time to develop international partnerships dedicated to working on these issues, and we are delighted to be part of this initiative”

The second partnership is with Utrecht University in The Netherlands and home of the WHO-Collaborating Center for Campylobacter and Antimicrobial Resistance from a One Health Perspective and the OIE-Reference Laboratory for Campylobacteriosis. This collaboration will allow the development of advanced genomic and metagenomic approaches to understanding Campylobacter, the primary bacterial cause of foodborne illness in Europe, and provide a platform to exchange skills in machine learning, phylogenetics and sequencing.

Dr Aldert Zomer said: “Infectious diseases cause social, economic and public health problems, and growing antimicrobial resistance threatens to make diseases untreatable. A partnership with the Quadram Institute supports the WHO Collaborating Centre for Campylobacter mission to develop new techniques and improved tools for Campylobacter isolation, identification and typing, and antimicrobial resistance which can be used to support surveillance, attribution and intervention studies”

These awards will facilitate long term collaborations, establishing networks of individuals with synergistic skills and common aims, encouraging the sharing of experiences and practices working across disciplines, sectors and stakeholders to strengthen One Health research initiatives in the UK and in the partner countries.

Dr Mather and her research group at the Quadram Institute on the Norwich Research Park work to understand the relative contributions of animals, humans, the environment and food to diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria and antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Alison Mather said: “I am delighted to have these opportunities to develop stronger links with scientists in both New Zealand and The Netherlands. The One Health approach is key to understanding the sources and drivers of the threats posed to society by bacterial pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. Sharing techniques and knowledge with experts in other countries will not only add value to our own respective projects, but also generate new ideas on how to tackle these global problems.”