POULTRY health specialist Fiona Tomley has been awarded an honour for her outstanding contribution to reducing infectious diseases in poultry.

The Plowright Prize is awarded biennially to an individual who has made a significant impact on the control, management or eradication of infectious diseases of animals.

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Fiona, who is Professor of Experimental Parasitology at the Royal Veterinary College, will use the £100,000 prize money to set up a global mentoring network for veterinary infectious disease researchers with a focus on ‘One Health’ – the integrated approach to sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. 

In a career spanning four decades, Pro Tomley has contributed substantially to the understanding and control of viral and parasitic pathogens of poultry and is renowned internationally for her work on Eimeria species that cause coccidiosis in chickens.

As Director of the UKRI GCRF One Health Poultry Hub, Prof Tomley has exhibited exemplary research leadership on a global scale, forging cross-sector collaboration to address the challenge of how to achieve sustainable intensification of chicken meat and egg production while reducing risks to human and animal health.

‘Huge honour’

Professor Tomley said: “It is a huge honour to receive the Plowright Prize and I am delighted that my work, and that of my colleagues and collaborators, has been recognised by the judging panel.

“Taking a One Health approach is a team effort, requiring researchers to communicate across disciplines, translate basic science to useful outcomes, advocate for science at its interface with policy, and collaborate with researchers from different geographical settings.

“As we enter the final phase of the One Health Poultry Hub, I’d particularly like to thank everyone who has participated, including the 55 investigators and 100 researchers from 27 institutions – many of them in South Asia – working as part of the Hub.”

‘Deserving’

Katie Mantell, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons chief executive, said: “We received a large number of high-calibre nominations for the Plowright Prize this year, and Professor Tomley’s work stood out due to the strength of her research credentials and the clarity and vision of her proposed use of the prize fund.

“I am delighted that the Prize is being awarded to an individual so deserving of the accolade and with exciting plans for using the funds to support future generations of research leaders.”