Animal health

Young researchers recognized for their fight against Peste des Petits Ruminants



As part of the Transformative Research Transformative Research Challenge (TRC) of the 2023 (TRC) of the 2023 World Food Forum, six exceptional researchers were recognized for their outstanding contributions in the battle against Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), also known as sheep and goat plague. 

PPR is a devastating disease with a mortality of 50-100 percent and is spread across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East putting 80 percent of the global small ruminant population at risk. Each year, PPR researchers meet to discuss new areas where more research is needed to enable PPR eradication and control of other small ruminant diseases. These areas of research are carried out by world reference centers, regional lead laboratories or national laboratories. Some universities are also carrying out research with their MsC or PhD students. This recognition, dubbed PPR Special Prize, was co-hosted with the FAO Peste des Petits Ruminants/PPR Global Eradication Programme (GEP) Secretariat and funded by the European Union.

The second edition of the TRC PPR Special Prize aimed to inspire teams of young researchers to devise transformative solutions for combating this viral disease. Following a rigorous evaluation process, six individuals were selected as the winners of the 2023 TRC PPR Special Prize. Four of them are from Africa, including two Ethiopians: Gashaw Beyene Asfaw, whose work focuses on the epidemio-spatial-risk mapping and socio-economic impact, and George Lugonzo Odongo, who researches innovation and technology for PPR eradication and reporting. Additionally, from Cameroon, Mbiatchoua Possi Ornel's research focuses on molecular characterization of the sheep and goats plague virus, while Nigerian Victor Taiwo Abiodun's research centers on interventional awareness and vaccination campaigns for PPR control. From Asia, Imran Hossain, representing Bangladesh, assesses environmental samples for PPR and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in live animal markets, and Jiaxin Li from China investigates the efficacy of pulse vaccination in PPR control.

Further on, the researchers will present their research findings at the PPR Global Research and Expertise Network (GREN) event scheduled from 28 to 30 November 2023, in Bangalore, India. GREN is a collaborative platform involving nearly 230 researchers from around the world, all dedicated to advancing the understanding of PPR.

The winners of the TRC PPR Special Prize will collaborate with one of the GREN thematic groups, in addition to the PPR GEP Secretariat, in their ongoing efforts to combat PPR. Furthermore, they will have the opportunity to publish their research within FAO, receive up to USD 10,000 per team in grant funding, and secure an exclusive spot on the PPR GEP webpage to bring their research into practice.