Sierra Leone

Jane T spent 5 weeks working in an Ebola diagnostic lab in Port Loko, Sierra Leone.

Left: the feet of the lab workers. Right: sunset from the IHP camp

It is rare for me to have the opportunity to use my skills to really make an immediate difference to people so when the email came asking for volunteers to work in the PHE Ebola diagnostic labs in Sierra Leone it was a no brainier for me.

Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries and Ebola has struck hard. The schools shut, gatherings, including markets, were made illegal, construction and other projects were stopped all in order to stem the spread of the virus. Many people lost their jobs. There is also a stigma associated with working with or surviving Ebola. It has been a crippling time for them.

I went with a team of 12 volunteers drawn from PHE, the NHS and various universities. We stayed in the IHP (International Humanitarian Partnership) camp. An impressive collection of tents with proper showers, laundry and kitchens, all managed by the Danish military. We were very well looked after.

In the lab, we were processing samples from the ETC (Ebola Treatment Centre) in Port Loko ,and from the community, by RT-PCR to test for Ebola. We also tested for Malaria as that is the big killer over there so it was important we treated that as well. Their health system has taken a big hit so management of other health issues has fallen by the way allowing other diseases such as Measles to also make a comeback.

West Africa is finally emerging from this outbreak. Last week there were 7 new cases in Guinea and only 2 in Sierra Leone (WHO Ebola situation reports). The schools reopened in April and the lab teams there at the moment are training local people so they can continue to run the labs as diagnostic facilities. The labs were some of the only brick built buildings on site at the ETCs so they can be left functional as part of the legacy.

It was a very positive and intense experience. I am grateful for the opportunity and I would redeploy in a heartbeat!


Tan presented at the 2015 Innate Immunity and Determinants of microbial Pathogenesis conference run by Keystone Symposia.

The Resort at Squaw Creek, for the Keystone meeting

Mucosal surfaces, reproductive health and HIV in prevention research Workshop

Jane and Teresa presented at the 2015 Mucosal surfaces, reproductive health and HIV in prevention research Workshop in Cape Town, South Africa.

Left: Julia Weinelt, Jane Rasaiyaah, Jonathan Sumner and Maria Teresa Rodriguez Plata on Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, Right: the last Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in Masiphumele

Could I get Ebola?

Greg was interviewed by Dr Chris Van Tulleken in his documentary investigating the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the UK. How easy is it to catch? Could the virus improve it's methods of transmission? Watch 'Could I get Ebola?' on BBC iPlayer.

Evening Standard Feature

Doctors Chris and Xand Van Tulleken were featured in the Evening Standard's Life & Style Magazine. To read about Chris' circuitous route into HIV research, click here.

Dr Chris Van Tulleken wins the Max Perutz Science Writing Award

Chris brings Operation Ouch to the Max perutz science writing awards

Chris Van Tulleken celebrated winning the MRC’s Max Perutz Science Writing award sponsored by Metro at the Royal Institution in London this month. The award recognises and celebrates excellent written science communication by MRC PhD students who submit an 800 word article answering ‘Why does my research matter?’. Chris’s article entitled “Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novo” discusses the sometimes surprising pathway research takes to realise its goals.

Cold Spring Harbor

Greg and Jane presented at the Retrovirus meeting in Cold Spring Harbor 

Greg and Jane discuss the abstracts (left) and Greg and Felipe chat at the picnic (right)

Visit our Cold Spring Harbor gallery

CROI Presentation

Greg presented at the 2014 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections at Croi. His talk entitled  'HIV-1 Evades Innate Immune Recognition Through Specific Co-Factor Recruitment' is available as a podcast.

amfAR Grant

Dr Jane Rasaiyaah has been awarded a grant by amfAR in their latest round of cure-focused research funding. Her work, in collaboration with Dr Leo James of Cambridge University, focuses on disrupting the ability of HIV to use a cellular protein to hide from the innate immune system by drugging and effectively uncloaking it.

Page last modified on 20 may 15 12:26 by Jane Lorna Elizabeth Turner