RVC researcher awarded Plowright Prize for substantial contributions to understanding and control of animal infectious disease - Veterinary Practice
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RVC researcher awarded Plowright Prize for substantial contributions to understanding and control of animal infectious disease

Professor Fiona Tomley CBE will use the prize fund to support future generations of research leaders, by forming a UK-led mentoring network for veterinary infectious disease One Health researchers

The Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) Professor Fiona Tomley CBE has been awarded the prestigious Plowright Prize by RCVSKnowledge in recognition of her key contributions to the field of animal infectious diseases. The prize fund of £100,000 will be used by Professor Tomley to establish a mentoring network to support the next leaders in infectious disease One Health research.

Dr Fiona Tomley

Spanning more than four decades, Fiona’s career has included basic science discovery, technological advances, industrial collaboration, international research leadership and knowledge exchange. She has contributed substantially to the understanding and control of animal disease, particularly viral and parasitic pathogens of poultry, and is renowned internationally for her work on Eimeria and coccidiosis. Fiona currently holds the position of professor of Experimental Parasitology at the RVC and is director of the UKRI GCRF One Health Poultry Hub.

The Plowright Prize is awarded to support further research or other improvement activity that contributes to the control, management and eradication of infectious diseases in animals. The mentoring network will be UK-led and include participants from across low- and middle-income countries where many diseases that pose international threats to animals and people are prevalent. One Health champions an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to infectious disease management and research which recognises the interdependencies of public, animal and environmental health due to our shared environment and the impact of climate change, connectivity, land use, health and food systems. 

The first year of the mentoring scheme, funded by the prize, will focus on identifying mentors within UK veterinary schools and research institutes and from established networks within Africa and South Asia. The network will then recruit its first cohort of early career researchers in 2025 to access mentoring and establish new relationships via one-to-one mentoring, group mentoring and peer mentoring sessions. The network will also organise online lectures, workshops and speaker sessions focused on interdisciplinary learning and One Health. It also has the ambition to arrange in-person sessions within specific geographical regions and annual network-wide face-to-face events.

Professor Fiona Tomley CBE, professor of Experimental Parasitology at the RVC and recipient of the Plowright Prize, said: 

“It is a huge honour and very exciting to receive such a prestigious award from RCVSKnowledge. I am grateful to have worked with many excellent and inspirational researchers during my career, and this prize means I can catalyse the formation of a network to support future generations of research leaders in One Health research globally, bolstering efforts to protect both animals and people from zoonotic threats, and empowering researchers with an international and collaborative network through which to address One Health issues.”

Professor Stuart Reid CBE, president & principal of the RVC, said:

“I am delighted that Professor Tomley has been awarded the Plowright Prize. It is a testament to the career-long commitment Fiona has shown to her science and the impact of her research in communities worldwide. I am sure Professor Plowright would fully approve that his legacy is being used to support her work and its contribution to animal and human health.”.

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