On Tuesday 9 August 2022, Delia Grace (Randolph) received the Peter Ellis award for exceptional contributions to veterinary epidemiology during the Twenty-Second International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE), held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Peter Ellis ISVEE Award for the Application of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics in Development is awarded to a person for activities in veterinary epidemiology and economics carried out in developing countries that contribute to improvements in animal and/or One Health in those countries.
Delia Grace received the award for the many advances she has made in applying her veterinary epidemiology expertise in Africa and Asia, where she has helped to advance animal, human and One Health, the latter of which productively joins up veterinary, medical and environmental expertise. Specifically, Delia has focused on better controlling diseases transmitted from (wild and domesticated) animals to humans (called ‘zoonotic diseases’) as well as human diseases caused by consumption of contaminated livestock-derived and other perishable foods. In these areas, she has advanced understanding of the heavy infectious disease burden that continues to afflict the world’s poorer countries and communities. This burden includes not only such well-known ‘emerging’ zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, bird flu, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), but also the ‘endemic’ (always present) zoonotic diseases that continue to sicken and kill poor people, such as brucellosis and cysticercosis and echinococcosis (tapeworms).
Delia Grace and her teams and collaborators have mapped these global animal, zoonotic and foodborne disease burdens and have built formidable economic as well as humanitarian cases for increasing investments to reduce them. They have worked with policymakers at all levels—from global to local—to assess and communicate the real (as against widely perceived) health and poverty risks different communities and groups of people face from animal and foodborne diseases. And they have provided pragmatic roadmaps for resource-poor nations and communities to take to improve their health and well-being while reducing the threat of global pandemics.
The author of more than 230 scientific publications, including landmark studies and synthesis of first importance, Delia is the previous recipient of prestigious scientific awards from the British Veterinary Association; Edinburgh University; the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), where she works jointly with the Natural Resources Institute; the University College Dublin; and, most recently, the University of Guelph, which awarded Delia the 2022 Arrell Global Food Innovation Award in June.
The citation for her recent Peter Ellis ISVEE Award calls Delia Grace a superb leader, team player and mentor and an especially ‘broad and critical thinker’. Offering something of a master class in messaging as well as veterinary science, Delia is known for her fresh approaches, for meeting hard truths head on and for illuminating neglected topics deserving of the world’s attention. Her scientific pursuits are distinguished by her commitment to help bring about tangible improvements in people’s lives. Often pushing back against fashionable trends and with a firm grasp of the everyday realities faced by the communities she and her teams are working to benefit, Delia consistently clarifies misconceptions and offers meaningful steps for governments and regulators to take to improve world health.
‘I couldn’t be more happy and honoured; animal health is our health and never have we needed epidemiologists more.'
—ILRI award-winner Delia Grace
‘Richly deserved! I am really pleased to see Delia Grace recognized in this way.’
—ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith
About Delia Grace
Delia Grace is a contributing scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Kenya, and professor of food safety systems at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, in the UK.
International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics is a global forum for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, junior and senior investigators, as well as health policymakers to exchange information that can advance the fields of veterinary epidemiology and economics, and related disciplines in the health and social sciences. It is held every three years and is the premiere world conference for veterinary epidemiology and veterinary economics.
About Peter Ellis
Peter Ellis was the founder of the Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Research Unit (VEERU) at the University of Reading. His interest in economics evolved from work on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in South America. He subsequently worked at the Agricultural Economics Research Institute in Oxford and then University of Reading where he established an interdisciplinary team that was in 1975 designated as VEERU. In 1976, Ellis invited around 80 professionals to a meeting at Reading, the main result of was the creation of the International Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE) and a plan to hold meetings every 3 years.