University of Oxford, United Kingdom
The parasitic worm Opisthorchis viverrini is largely unknown outside of endemic communities, however it causes a liver cancer which is among the leading causes of death in north-eastern Thailand and Laos. Ongoing efforts to control O. viverrini, which is contracted from eating raw fish, have involved health education and case treatment, though it is uncertain if these efforts are sufficient to eliminate the parasite.
I propose to improve our understanding by applying modern statistical methods to diagnostic data collected on the parasite in Thailand and Laos. I will also sequence DNA from worms in different locations to learn about how O. viverrini migrates between regions and whether cats and dogs harbour the same parasites as humans.
I will incorporate the findings into a model which can be used by policy makers to test the impact of different disease control measures, including large-scale treatment with a deworming drug.