Advances in diagnostics for parasitic diseases: the journey to a special issue
With the arrival of the first day of December, receiving the Special Issue of Parasitology focused on “Advances in diagnostics for parasitic diseases” was a great way to start my festive run up to the Christmas break. As guest editor with Les Chappell, with whom I have had the great pleasure to work with on two other special issues before, it was with excitement that I unwrapped this volume for it was the fruition of over 3 year’s work. It also made me think and reflect over the next days, sometimes with mince pies made by colleagues, on all the planning and collective effort and goodwill needed to make this issue happen, which I briefly describe below.
The project first started in late 2011, with a germ of an idea to hold an Autumn Symposium of the British Society for Parasitology. This was to be focused on diagnostics. I then developed this topic into a meeting theme to be run at a 2-day event at Ness Gardens, Cheshire. There Emily Adams and I hosted 20 invited speakers and we looked after just under 120 delegates. The two days were blessed with good weather and in the autumnal sunshine there was ample opportunity for conversation outside in the gardens overlooking the stunning Dee estuary. Managing financial and budgetary stresses aside, a memorable highlight on the 24th September was being quiz-master at the symposium dinner – just who understands all the skills you need to make a meeting a success!
Success it was, perhaps solely not for the entertaining quiz, as it brought together an impressive array of diverse diagnostic expertise, providing a new forum for the exchange of ideas. Indeed, I saw this cross-fertilisation grow take exciting form as people saw strengths and weaknesses in each other’s work. For example, how many researchers who manage or study HIV/tuberculosis are given an opportunity to share directly their experiences with those that manage or study parasitic diseases, and vice versa? Simply put, the common ground in all this was the diagnostic discipline itself and the associated technology platforms. Just step back a little from this diversity and consider the diagnostic process, its setting with informed decision making and its application in disease management albeit at individual- or community-levels, then how this is set within the health system. To me, this is what the science of diagnostics is all about and where the research cross-talk was particularly illuminating.
I very warmly congratulate those 70+ authors who stood by me, giving their time to see through this project and express my gratitude to CUP and Parasitology staff, Les and Stephen amongst others, for all their help and encouragement. To close, I wish that all the gifts you receive this coming festive season are equally as welcome as this one was to me.
Guest Editor, Parasitology, Volume 141: Issue 14 Special Issue: Symposia of the British Society for Parasitology Volume 52 Advances in diagnostics for parasitic diseases