Royal award for pioneering parasite research at Aberystwyth University

Schistosomiasis affects more than 200 million people globally and is transmitted by freshwater snails in tropical areas of Africa, Asia and South America.

Schistosomiasis affects more than 200 million people globally and is transmitted by freshwater snails in tropical areas of Africa, Asia and South America.

17 November 2023

Aberystwyth University has been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its pioneering work in helping to tackle the devastating impact of parasitic flatworms.

The prize, which is part of the British Honours system, celebrates the work of scientists in the University’s Department of Life Sciences who specialise in a particular group of parasitic flatworms which cause devastating diseases such as Schistosomiasis in people and Fasciolosis in livestock.

Schistosomiasis is a tropical disease usually spread through contact with contaminated fresh water, killing an estimated 12,000 people and infecting more than 200 million individuals every year.

Fasciolosis affects more than 300 million cattle and 250 million sheep world wide, at a cost of over £2.5 billion a year to the agriculture industry.

Awarded every two years, the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes celebrate excellence and innovation and recognise outstanding work that delivers benefit to the wider world.  

They are run by the Royal Anniversary Trust and are the highest Honour awarded to further and higher education institutions in the UK.

The names of the 22 universities and colleges awarded the accolade this year were announced at a reception at St James’s Palace last night (16 November).

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, said:

“I am delighted that pathfinding work by our scientists is being recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize and extend my sincere congratulations to all those involved in this pioneering research, past and present. Our academics have been studying these parasites for more than a century, analysing their complex lifecycles and host interactions to an unprecedented level of detail and identifying vulnerabilities which can be targeted by new vaccines or drugs. This prize underlines once gain the importance of the world-leading research that’s undertaken here in Aberystwyth.”

Professor Karl Hoffmann, Director of the Barrett Centre for Helminth Control at Aberystwyth University, added:

“Parasitic worms cause some of the most disfiguring, debilitating and chronic infectious diseases of human and animal populations across the globe. They kill thousands of people and animals annually, and lead to the suffering of millions more. They also threaten food and crop security and create substantial economic losses.

“This award is a tribute to the parasitologists who have created a centre of excellence at Aberystwyth and who play a pivotal role in ongoing international efforts to control parasitic flatworm diseases and mitigate their devastating consequences on human and animal health as well as food production globally.”

Sir Damon Buffini, Chair of The Royal Anniversary Trust said:

“The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education are an integral part of our national Honours system, shining a light on the groundbreaking work taking place in universities and colleges across the UK. All 22 Prize-winners demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact, with many tackling some of the toughest problems we as a society face today. They are to be commended for reaching this pinnacle of achievement in the tertiary education sector. Congratulations!” 

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize was also awarded to Aberystwyth University in 2009 in recognition of its innovative and high-impact crop and plant-breeding research.