Innogen · News · January 23, 2014

Post-Doctoral Job Opportunity: Researching the politics of sleeping sickness

Post-Doctoral Job Opportunity: Researching the politics of sleeping sickness

Join a team of researchers working on a European Research Council-funded project that analyses the complex interplay of actors, policies and projects that have shaped research into and control of African Trypanosomiasis.

Sleeping sickness (also known as African Trypanosomiasis) is a disease that perhaps above all others is deeply political in terms of how it is researched, how it has been controlled, how it is prioritised and how it is treated.

It affects multiple species – humans and animals, it presents in different ways, it is shaped by different epidemiological, ecological and aetiological factors and dynamics. It can be difficult to diagnose, the insect vector, the tsetse fly (Glossina spp.) is difficult to control, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to raise awareness and funding. It is now a doubly neglected ‘neglected tropical disease’ (neglected in its human and livestock forms).

African trypanosomiasis has an equally complex history. It has been responsible for several major epidemics and loss of life, it has shaped the very economy and environment of central Africa – for extended periods of history one could simply not settle and keep cattle in endemic areas. If untreated it always kills, and its impact on cattle and thus livelihoods was massive. It was the archetypal ‘colonial disease’ and now given its neglected, semi-forgotten status one could argue it is the archetypal post-colonial disease. It still has impact, it still kills, but we are not quite clear what that impact is, how to systematically deal with it and how to build proper partnerships to harness public, private, national and international to bring our accumulated knowledge and expertise to bear.

The European Research Council-funded INZI project (the acronym is also Swahili for fly) aims to analyse the complex interplay of actors, policies and projects that have shaped research into and control of African Trypanosomiasis from the Second World War until the present day. We use the disease and responses to it to interrogate how global health shapes governance and priorities, how partnerships can re-configure markets, how pro-poor innovation can be developed through new approaches, and how data, knowledge and expertise interact to shape policy, understand complex systems and develop technologies, medicines and control programmes.

We are seeking a post-doctoral fellow to join our interdisciplinary team of about ten. The postholder, based in the Centre of African Studies in the School of Social and Political Science, will be a social scientist with expertise in global health and development or medical anthropology, with specific expertise in the politics of sleeping sickness or African neglected tropical diseases more broadly. The postholder will undertake extended fieldwork in Africa and be expert in analysing complex systems and policy documentation.

If you’d like to discuss the opportunity contact Professor James Smith at james.smith@ed.ac.uk.

If you’d like further information on the post and how to apply follow this link: www.vacancies.ed.ac.uk/pls/corehrrecruit/erq_jobspec_version_4.jobspec?p_id=024652