Associate Professor David Hayman from the Infectious Diseases Research Centre at Massey University has been awarded one of the 10 highly sought-after Rutherford Discovery Fellowships announced by New Zealand’s Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith.
Associate Professor Hayman’s research will focus on animal infectious diseases that can naturally transfer to humans, known as ‘zoonoses’. Well known examples of zoonoses include Ebola virus, HIV/AIDS, and pandemic influenza. Understanding the dynamics of these diseases is essential for predicting when, where, and why the disease jumps from the animal to human hosts. By employing cutting-edge molecular and epidemiological techniques, the research programme will help to answer fundamental, real-world questions on the conditions which give rise to the emergence of zoonoses, and provide advice on how to prevent their spread to humans.
The annual fellowships, administered by The Royal Society on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, are worth up to $160,000 each a year for five years, and designed to support talented early- to mid-career researchers.
Associate Professor Hayman’s research has focused on when and why novel globally important pathogens emerge and cause disease.
He has been involved with studying some of the world’s most deadly pathogens to humans, including the Ebola virus. His research focuses on how host traits and infection dynamics determine how traits such as birth and death rates affect infection dynamics in populations.
His most recent work includes using thermal imaging surveillance cameras to monitor long-term hibernation behaviours of bats, and work finding that Ebola virus emergence is linked to the clearing of animal habitat through deforestation in West and Central Africa.