August 30, 2022
By Ellen Kearney
Way back in September 2019, I was lucky enough to be granted an ACREME travel award to fund a two part trip to develop my skills in applying spatial modelling to my research exploring
Anopheles salivary antigens as a tool for serosurveillance. The first part funded my attendance at a short-course at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to introduce concepts and techniques for performing Spatial Analysis in R. The 3-day course was run by leading experts in the field and was extensive in its offering – covering topics from data visualisation to spatial modelling.
The second part of this award was used to fund a trip to Perth to collaborate with ACREME CI Professor Peter Gething at the Malaria Atlas Project. Originally scheduled for March 2020, this trip was unfortunately postponed. During the lock downs of 2020-2021, I worked together with some of the MAP team in a virtual capacity to apply the techniques learnt at the LSHTM course to my own research. Building on ACREME themes of developing new tools for surveillance, one of the aims of my PhD seeks to validate the use of antibodies against Anopheles salivary proteins as a serosurveillance tool to understand heterogeneity in malaria transmission and vector populations in 104 villages in Southeast Myanmar.
The ACREME general meeting in June 2022 reinvigorated the collaboration with the MAP team and a few weeks later I finally booked to travel to Perth! I spent a week meeting the whole MAP team and working closely with Dr Punam Amratia and Dr Ewan Cameron to build my capacity in spatio-temporal modelling for malaria risk, as well as exploring joint models that may allow us to combine serological markers for the vector and parasite as a proxy measure for the entomological inoculation rate. While there, I was able to present some of the research undertaken as part of my PhD on vector serosurveillance to the MAP team. I am so grateful to ACREME for the opportunity and want to thank the whole MAP team for making me feel so welcome and taking me out in Fremantle to see some of the first live music I’ve seen in since coming out of lock downs.