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Edinburgh researcher awarded for work on cattle disease
Professor Ivan Morrison has been named winner of the first RCVS Knowledge Plowright Prize.

Professor Ivan Morrison is the first recipient of the RCVS Knowledge Plowright Prize.

The winner of the inaugural RCVS Knowledge Plowright Prize, which recognises an individual who has made significant contributions to infectious disease research, has been named as Professor Ivan Morrison.

Introduced in 2019 in memory of Dorothy and Walter Plowright, the Prize awards £75,000 to support research or other activity that contributes to the control, management and eradication of infectious animal diseases.

Dr Morrison, who is a professor of immunology at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, received the honour for his work on the cattle disease East Coast Fever. He plans to use the funding to advance his current research towards creating a cost-effective vaccine, which would greatly improve the ability of small farming communities – especially those in sub-Saharan Africa – to manage the disease.

Chris Gush, executive director of RCVS Knowledge, said: “Professor Morrison’s achievements to date and research ambitions to combat East Coast Fever are a strong expression of the importance of evidence-based veterinary medicine. We look forward to supporting his work, which promises to have a valuable and wide-reaching impact on cattle and the affected communities.”

East Coast Fever kills over one million cattle annually and is a huge economic burden on livestock farmers in low- and middle-income communities.

The disease is spread by the parasite Theileria parva. Professor Morrison's current work is focusing on modifying T. parva-infected cells to render them capable of fusion to other bovine cells, allowing them to be used for the development of a novel vaccine for East Coast Fever.

Commenting on the award, Professor Morrison said: “It is a great honour to receive the inaugural RCVS Knowledge Plowright Prize. I am particularly humbled that it is awarded in memory of Walter Plowright.

“The funds will advance my current research on Theileria parva, by demonstrating that the approach I am pursuing is a viable option for vaccination against the parasite. Such a vaccine would be affordable by small-holders in Africa, improving their ability to control the disease and enhancing their prosperity and quality of life.”

Image (C) University of Edinburgh.

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