LCNTDR & The HAT Platform Scientific Research Meeting - 'Achieving Human African Trypanosomiasis elimination'

01-03 February 2022

The London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research, The HAT Platform and RSTMH are co-hosting a series of scientific research roundtable meetings to convene global researchers who are working to interrupt the transmission and elimination of HAT as a public health problem, or whose work in a related area who could contribute to the effort. The focus is on work that is simple, feasible and sustainable. This meeting will differ from other HAT focused meetings in the calendar by bringing the perspective of scientists working in multidisciplinary fields, not necessarily on HAT, but who will share their experience and knowledge to support the HAT elimination effort. 

The objective of the meeting is to identify research gaps that, if addressed, have the potential to contribute to reaching the WHO road map targets for HAT by 2030. The meeting will be an opportunity to present recent and ongoing research, to learn from scientists in related fields whose work may contribute and for researchers and stakeholders to discuss research priorities and how they could be addressed.

The London Centre for NTD Research, in collaboration with the HAT Platform and DNDi, has published a series of abstracts presenting new research in the field of human African trypanosomiasis to coincide with the meeting.

The meeting will be held in English with optional live translation to French.

Ahead of the meeting a series of short research presentations are available here to all meeting participants to review ahead of time.



2nd February, 1pm- 3pm GMT

The second roundtable meeting of the series will discuss social sciences and operational research advances and further needs.  

Facilitator: Jennifer Palmer, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 

Confirmed panellists include: 

  • Salome Bukachi, University of Nairobi 
  • Charlie Kabanga, freelance social scientist  
  • Ann Kelly, Kings College London 
  • Catiane Vander Kelen, Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp 

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3rd February, 1pm – 3pm GMT

The third and final roundtable meeting of the series will be an opportunity to summarise the points made and discussed in the previous meetings and to the priorities that have emerged.   

Confirmed panellists include: 

  • Simon Croft, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 
  • Paulo Macana, Institute for Combat and Control of Trypanosomiasis, Angola 
  • Florent Mbo, DNDi-HAT Platform DRC 
  • José Ramón Franco, WHO 

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Dr Gerardo Priotto, WHO

Dr Gerardo Priotto, WHO is a medical doctor and epidemiologist by training, having spent a significant portion of his career with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and epicentre working in humanitarian aid and research projects aimed at improving public health in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Brazil, Guatemala, and Thailand. Gerardo led several studies on malaria and HAT therapeutics, including three clinical trials that found and validated the nifurtimox - eflornithine combination therapy (NECT) for HAT.  Gerardo joined WHO in 2010, working on the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) in the Mediterranean area, the epidemiological surveillance and response in Central Africa, the design of electronic tools for health surveillance. In 2014 he joined the WHO HAT team that provides technical support, coordination and leadership across countries and partners working on HAT elimination.

Professor Emeritus Philippe Büscher, Institute Tropical Medicine Antwerp

Philippe Büscher has dedicated decades of his career to the Institute of Tropical Medicine as a scientific researcher in human and animal African trypanosomiasis, mainly focusing on improved diagnosis. In 1998, he became head of the Unit of Parasite Diagnostics where his team developed new formats for parasitological, serological and molecular diagnostics for African trypanosomiasis, visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. Particular attention was paid to the applicability of these tests in settings with poor infrastructure resources. The Unit of Parasite Diagnostics technically and scientifically supported research institutes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Ethiopia. The Unit was a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Training on Human African Trypanosomiasis and is World Animal Health Organization Reference Center for Surra (T. evansi). P. Büscher has co-authored more than 200 articles in peer reviewed journals and more than 10 book chapters. He participated in seven European projects. When he retired in August 2021, the Unit of Parasite Diagnostics was closed. P. Büscher is now active as senior researcher in the Unit of Mycobacterial Diseases and NTDs of the Department of Public Health in the Institute of Tropical Medicine to assist the HAT control and elimination program in D.R. Congo.

Professor Stephen Torr, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Professor Torr has over 30 years’ experience of work on the behaviour, ecology and control of vectors, with particular emphasis on tsetse flies and mosquitoes.  Professor Torr was a key member of the UK government’s Tropical Development Research Institute (subsequently the Natural Resources Institute )  and was involved in the early large-scale use of baits to control tsetse in Zimbabwe and Somalia.  He later led the development of NRI’s medical and veterinary entomology programme where areas of research included improved use of insecticide-treated cattle to control tsetse and malaria mosquitoes in sub-Saharan Africa; development of artificial baits to control species of tsetse which transmit Gambian sleeping sickness in Central and West Africa; analysis of the impact of large-scale tsetse control operations in Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and development of simulation models and decision support systems to assist in the design, implementation and monitoring of tsetse control operations.  In March 2013, Professor Torr took up a joint position of Professor in Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and The University of Warwick.  Professor Torr’s current research is in the use of targets to eliminate African sleeping sickness as well as defining the biomedical, environmental, and social risk factors for human infection with Plasmodium knowlesi.

Professor Deirdre Hollingsworth, Big Data Institute, University of Oxford

Professor Deirdre Hollingsworth is an infectious disease epidemiologist who uses mathematical models and statistical analyses to study the evolution and transmission dynamics of infectious diseases with the aim of informing the design of more effective control interventions. She is particularly interested in neglected tropical diseases, a group of diseases which cause suffering amongst the poorest populations of the world. She leads the NTD Modelling Consortium, an international network of neglected tropical disease modellers. Her research foci are lymphatic filariasis, visceral leishmaniasis and a group of intestinal worms (soil transmitted helminths or STHs) which affect a large number of children and adults in low-income settings. She has ongoing interests in the transmission and evolution of HIV in both Africa and European/North American settings as well as malaria and influenza.

Dr Wilfried Mutombo Kalonji, DNDi

Dr Wilfried Mutombo Kalonji joined DNDi as Project Coordinator in February 2016. Dr Wilfried is now Clinical Project Leader and Medical Manager.  Dr Wilfried coordinated the fexinidazole clinical trials on behalf of the National Sleeping Sickness Control Program of the DRC (PNLTHA) in collaboration with DNDi.   He has over 10 years of field experience in human African trypanosomiasis research and case management.  From 2006 until 2015, Dr Wilfried held various positions at the Congolese Ministry of Health for the PNLTHA. He was also a recent member of the Research Unit of the PNLTHA at the central level in Kinshasa.  He began his relationship with DNDi as a local investigator at the Centre of Dipumba in Mbijimayi for the trials to develop NECT. He has participated in several congresses and international meetings as well as co-authoring several publications in the field of HAT. 

Dr Jennifer Palmer, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Dr Jennifer Palmer is a medical anthropologist based in the Department of Global Health and Development and Co-Director of the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre, which serves as a focus for LSHTM research and teaching on public health in humanitarian contexts. She is an Honorary Fellow at the Centre of African Studies, School of Political and Social Sciences in the University of Edinburgh and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Public Authority in International Development, Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa in the London School of Economics & Political Science. Having entered academia through humanitarian practice, much of her research has taken place in humanitarian settings and is centred on humanitarian practice or its effects. A key interest is in the control of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT or sleeping sickness) amongst other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and she serves on the steering committee for the global clinical trials Hat Platform.  She received a PhD and MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from LSHTM as well as a BSc, Hon in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University.

Catiane Vander Kelen is a social scientist working at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Belgium) in the Neglected Tropical Diseases Unit. She has a master in Social Sciences from the Université Libre de Bruxelles and a Master in Humanitarian Studies From the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. After her studies she developed a significant experience working with different NGOs in different humanitarian settings. She worked 5 years with Médecins Sans Frontières as Health Promotor in various countries for numerous projects, of which Cholera in Haiti and Zambia;  Ebola in West Africa; and sleeping sickness in oriental province in DRC. She is currently undertaking a PhD on community participation in vector control for sleeping sickness elimination in partnership with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Prof. Salome A. Bukachi, University of Nairobi

Prof. Salome A. Bukachi is a social/medical/ anthropologist with over 19 years progressive experience working on infectious diseases with a focus on community knowledge and practices in relation to livestock and zoonotic diseases, including the gender issues therein , health systems and the socio-economic and cultural/behavioural aspects of infectious diseases and development. She works with various stakeholders both local and international in undertaking research and development on anthropological issues. Her main disease focus has been on infectious zoonotic diseases – African trypanosomiasis, Rift Valley fever among others.

Charlie Kabanga, Freelancer

Charlie Kabanga is a social scientist and an international development specialist, currently working as a freelance researcher and evaluation consultant. She has over 16 years’ experience working in international development in West Africa (Cameroon and Chad), Central Africa (DRC), Eastern Africa (Uganda), and Southern Africa (Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia), of which 8 years have been focused on M&E of and research on various programmes including public health, education, child protection, gender, women empowerment as well as food and nutrition security. As a consultant for DNDi, Charlie led the ethnographic study on communities’ knowledge, practices, and behaviours related to Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) in DRC, which informed the development of the new Education Information and Communication (EIC) strategy. She also led the evaluation of the implementation of the HAT EIC strategy in targeted provinces of the DRC, which assessed the level of behaviour change in community engagement towards HAT control activities (screening, treatment, and vector control). She holds an MSc in Social Research Methods from Birkbeck University of London, an MA in International Development from Brandeis University in the United States, and a BA in Rural Development from Institut Supérieur de Développement Rural in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Professor Ann Kelly, Kings College London

Ann H. Kelly is a Professor in Anthropology and Global Health and Interim Head of the Department. She serves on the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) for Ebola Vaccines and Vaccination. She is also on the Editorial Board of Economy & Society, Cultural Anthropology, Humanities & Social Sciences Communications and Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

An anthropologist by training (Cambridge University, 2007), her ethnographic work focuses on the socio-material conditions that structure the production of global health knowledge, and the local ecologies of labour that circumscribe its circulation and use. She is currently collaborating on number of transdisciplinary collaborations at the interface of infectious disease control, health system strengthening and global outbreak response.

Her work has received support from a wide range of funders, including the Wellcome Trust, the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust. Recent work has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, Social Studies of Science, Social Science and Medicine, Economy and Society, American Ethnologist and Medical Anthropology.

She is currently finishing a monograph with Javier Lezaun that explores vector biologists and entomologists towards the development to rethink the parameters of knowability and doability in global health. 

Professor Simon Croft, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Professor Croft has worked on the discovery and development of anti-infective drugs in academia, industry and public-private partnerships. Simon’s research has focussed on novel drugs and formulations for the treatment of leishmaniasis, malaria, human African trypanosomiasis and Chagas disease, including projects on miltefosine, AmBisome and topical paromomycin which reached clinical trials for the treatment of leishmaniasis. Current research interests include PK PD relationships, topical formulations, predictive models for drugs and vaccines and leishmaniasis control programmes (KalaCORE and SPEAK India). He works extensively with industry and PDPs on NTDs and a network of collaborators in disease endemic countries. From 2004 to 2007 Simon was the R & D Director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), Geneva and from 2008 to 2014 he was Dean of Faculty at the LSHTM.

José Ramón Franco, Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO

José Ramón Franco is a Medical officer, with a diploma in Tropical Medicine (DTMH) and Specialist in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, working on sleeping sickness control since 1995. From 1995 to 2007, he was working in human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) control programs at the field level in Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2007, he joined WHO as medical officer in the Program of Control and surveillance of HAT within the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. In this position, he has been involved in different aspects related to HAT, including: technical and financial support to different endemic countries,  coordination of countries and partners, development of technical reports and guidelines, ensuring access to HAT treatment and pharmacovigilance of new developed HAT medicines, development of clinical trials for new medicines and new diagnostic tools, set up of the WHO Atlas of HAT, training of health staff, including the International Courses for African trypanosomiasis (ICAT) and the development and management of HAT specimen bank.

Dr. Florent Mbo, DNDi

Dr. Florent Mbo is Access and Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) Platform Coordinator at DNDi, since 2015. He is based in DRC. He has over 20 years of field experience as a GP, health district hospital medical director, head of health district and provincial coordinator of national sleeping sickness control program of Democratic Republic of Congo for over ten years. He was also investigator in HAT clinical trials and operational studies. As an access leader and HAT platform coordinator, he is focusing on advocacy to African HAT endemic countries to use new drugs by obtaining the authorization of use via Ministries of Health and training on new drug use and pharmacovigilance within endemic countries in collaboration with WHO. As a reminder the HAT platform is a capacity building platform for clinical and operational research from national sleeping sickness control programmes from the most affected endemic countries and research institutions. Other HAT platform activities include improving the research landscape, reinforcing research capacities, supporting ethics committees, developing operational research and sharing information between members through international scientific meetings and newsletters. He is a medical doctor trained in Kinshasa (1998), with MSc in Tropical Disease Control from Tropical Medicine Institute. Antwerp, Belgium (2007) and holds two university certificates: Health System Research from the School of Public Health (Free University of Brussels, 2012) and Health Policy (Tropical Medicine Institute of Antwerp, 2014).

Paulo Makana

Dr Don Paul Makana is head of the Department of Technical Management and Supervision of the Institute for Combating and Control of Trypanosomiasis in Angola, and Principal Investigator in the study on strategies to accelerate the elimination of sleeping sickness as a public health problem in Angola, DRC and Congo Brazzaville which is carried out locally in Angola with the support of FIND. He is a member of the steering committee of the HAT Platform. Dr. Don Paul Makana has experienced the impact of mini mobile teams in Angola and the integration of diagnostic and treatment activities into the national system. He led an investigation team on the presence of trypanosome in the Province of Cuando Cubango. Dr. Don Paul Makana is part of the team of trainers of technicians on the use of Fexinidazole in Angola, he has participated in several congresses and international meetings on HAT. Before joining the ICCT, Dr. Don Paul Makana worked in the Lukula Health Zone in the Kongo Central Province/DRC as part of the development of the Health Zone Management Team supported by BTC

2nd February, 1pm- 3pm GMT

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3rd February, 1pm – 3pm GMT

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