Jennifer Palfreyman - Student Inspiration Award (Undergraduate)

Jennifer Palfreyman

Jennifer Palfreyman is a third-year undergraduate on the veterinary medicine course at the University of Liverpool, whose talents extend beyond the realm of science – she previously had a successful career as a professional saxophone player.

In the second year of her course Jennifer carried out a research project on the oriental eye worm Thalazia callipaeda, a parasitic infection of the eyes of humans, dogs and horses which will cause blindness if left untreated. The parasite is spread by the fruit fly Phortica species and the first UK cases have recently been identified in dogs imported from Europe.

In her earlier project, Jennifer examined the distribution of the insect vector at six locations in the south of England. Funding from International Canine Health Awards will enable her to extend that work over a greater geographical area to assess the likely risk of the parasite becoming established in the UK.

Her grant also supported her in attending the British Society of Parasitology conference in Aberystwyth in April where she was able to meet Professor Domenico Otranto from the University of Bari in Italy, who is among the foremost European experts on the Thalazia parasite. She has also been able to expand her work in creating information sheets and other educational materials to alert vets in first opinion practices across Britain to the threat posed by this exotic new disease.

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