One to One with Professor Mary Cameron

22 Jun 2021

We have asked our management board to answer a few quick questions.

This month we are showcasing the responses from Professor Mary Cameron.

What do you like most about the Gnatwork?

The best thing about the Gnatwork was having the opportunity to meet with people outside my immediate field of research, particularly during the workshops in Bangladesh and Brazil. It was rewarding to meet the next generation of enthusiastic early career researchers and being able to provide training and to exchange ideas and experiences. As a member of the management board, I personally took time to reflect on the important gaps and research questions to address in the short and long term across the different vector groups which was valuable and insightful. It was gratifying to be in a position to offer grant support to high calibre research projects and it was impressive to see how much could be delivered with small amounts of funding during a short period of time.
What is your favourite paper?

I do not really have one favourite paper. There are many research groups whose work I admire, and I have been lucky enough to work with most of them during my career. I shall select a recent field-based paper that aimed to address the problem of controlling outdoor transmission:
Elnaiem D-EA, Dakein O, Alawad AM-A, Alsharif B, Khogali A, Jibreel T, et al. (2020) Outdoor Residual Insecticide Spraying (ODRS), a New Approach for the Control of the Exophilic Vectors of Human Visceral Leishmaniasis: Phlebotomus orientalis in East Africa. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(10): e0008774.

What is your favourite review paper?

Review papers do not tend to age that well, so I have selected a recent review to remind us of the lack of an evidence base to promote vector control in leishmaniasis control programmes:
Montenegro QuiƱonez CA, Runge-Ranzinger S, Rahman KM, Horstick O (2021) Effectiveness of vector control methods for the control of cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis: A meta-review. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 15(5): e0009309.

What was your most memorable field trip and why?

Another tricky question - it is difficult to select only one because all field trips were memorable, rewarding and enjoyable for different reasons since I have been lucky enough to work with some lovely people. Although my current focus is visceral leishmaniasis in India, I am going to select a field trip working with my late husband and a great team from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, led by Prof Alejandro Llanos-Cuentas, on cutaneous leishmaniasis in Peru. The field project was conducted during a cholera epidemic and when a terrorist group called the sendero luminoso infiltrated the villages in the Andean foothills where we worked. In addition to these challenges, I remember a torrential rainstorm that caused a landslide on the single dirt track that provided access to the villages which made the ‘road’ impassible for even 4x4 vehicles. We were stranded (and there were no mobile phones in those days), but local villagers kindly let us borrow their donkeys to transport field equipment so that we could return to the field station. The journey back by foot over several miles, in heavy rain and in the dark with thick mud underfoot on a narrow cliff edge, was treacherous. However, we were able to conduct the research and provide treatment to patients.