Who we are
LSHTM has the expertise and knowledge to make a significant impact on COVID-19 diagnostic testing. We have extensive experience working with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and human infection. Previous work from our group has shown that people infected with malaria parasites produce a body odour detectable by mosquitoes, which results in malaria mosquitoes preferentially feeding on asymptomatic, malaria-infected individuals. This was published in the high impacting journal PNAS. Together with Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University we later showed that dogs, with their highly advanced sense of smell, could be trained to detect people carrying malaria parasites. This was published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Our research team is an interdisciplinary group of researchers with extensive experience working with VOCs and human infection, comprising experts in dog training and behavioural science, chemical ecology, infectious diseases, diagnostics, virology, biological chemistry, epidemiology, statistics and clinical trials.
Professor James Logan (Project Lead)
Professor James Logan is the CEO of Arctech Innovation and a Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
James is the Principal Investigator of a large research portfolio investigating chemical ecology approaches for the surveillance and control of diseases. This includes using sensors, insects and other animals as biosensors for the identification of VOCs that can be used as diagnostic markers for disease, or as attractants and repellents for arthropods that transmit pathogens of medical importance, including malaria, Zika, dengue, trachoma, and Lyme disease.
Dr Claire Guest
Dr Claire Guest is a behavioural psychologist with more than 30 years’ experience of understanding and training dogs. In 2004 she directed one of the first programmes in the world to train dogs to identify cancer by odour and published the first robust proof of principle study in the BMJ later that year. She went on to co-found Medical Detection Dogs with Dr John Church in 2008.
Over the past 12 years under Claire’s leadership, Medical Detection Dogs has focused on establishing a strong evidence base for its research. Its commitment to rigorous scientific methodology, and to improving our understanding of canine olfactory ability, has led to research into the detection of a number of cancers, Parkinson’s disease, malaria and bacterial infections. It already applies what we know about the science of canine olfaction to benefit people by training Medical Alert Assistance Dogs, which help individuals manage complex, life-threatening medical conditions. The potential for this work to lead to the development of fast, reliable and non-invasive diagnostics is enormous.
In 2016 Claire wrote “Daisy’s Gift”, which tells the story of the formation of the charity and her remarkable dog ‘Daisy’, who indicated her own breast cancer.
Professor Steve Lindsay
Professor Steve Lindsay is a public health entomologist and Professor in the Department of Biosciences at Durham University.
Steve has considerable experience in public health interventions and has run large clinical trials measuring the impact of mosquito control on malaria in children. He was the principal investigator of the study that demonstrated that trained dogs could identify asymptomatic carriers of malaria. He is also the proud owner of a young working Labrador called Tilly.
Dr Sarah Dewhirst
Dr Sarah Dewhirst is Director of Contract Research at Arctech Innovation.
Sarah has over 17 years’ experience in entomological and chemical ecology research, including in a post-doctorate position working on identifying odour baits to substantially increase the efficiency of traps and targets used in the control of the tsetse fly population, a major vector of African Sleeping Sickness.
Dr Anna Last
Dr Anna Last is a clinical epidemiologist and Associate Professor in Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Anna has been working on a network of integrated studies on the integrated elimination of NTDs (including soil-transmitted helminths, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, yaws, and scabies) and malaria in East and West Africa.
Dr David Allen
Dr David Allen is Associate Professor of Virology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
David’s research interests are in enteric virus infections - particularly norovirus and enterovirus - and the virological features of these viruses that drive their highly dynamic epidemiology, allowing them to emerge and persist in human populations.
Other researchers included:
Professor John Pickett CBE FRS, Professor of Biological Chemistry, Cardiff University
Professor Steven Morant, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Dundee
Dr John Bradley, Assistant Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, LSHTM
Professor Immo Kleinschmidt, Professor of Epidemiology, LSHTM
Chelci Squires, Research Scientist and Trials Manager, ARCTEC
James Hourston, Research Scientist and Trials Manager, ARCTEC
Ann Rooney, Veterinary Epidemiologist, Lomond Veterinary Clinic