A pioneering veterinary pathologist from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has been honoured with a prestigious Fellowship from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the profession.
Following 28 years of ground-breaking work at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology (IoZ), Professor Andrew Cunningham was bestowed with the Fellowship for his ‘meritorious contributions to knowledge’.
During his three decades at ZSL, Prof. Cunningham has led on countless pioneering projects studying disease threats to wildlife conservation across a range of ecosystems – from snails and whales to amphibians and Arabian oryx.
In the mid-1990s he led the ground-breaking multidisciplinary team that identified one of the greatest emerging threats to amphibian populations worldwide – the Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (or ‘chytrid’) fungus. Following dramatic declines in global amphibian populations, Prof. Cunningham and his team were the first to identify the fungus as causing the amphibian mortality that led to population declines and even extinctions in some cases.
The team were awarded a medal by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia for this work and Prof. Cunningham has remained at the forefront of amphibian disease research ever since as part of ZSL’s wider efforts to conserve amphibians and their habitats worldwide. Other areas of Prof. Cunningham’s research include the identification of vulture declines in South Asia, its cause and mitigation, and the spill-over of zoonotic pathogens from bats to people in West Africa.
Currently Professor of Wildlife Epidemiology and Deputy Head of the IoZ, in his new role as RCVS Fellow Prof. Cunningham will act as a resource of independent knowledge for the benefit of the veterinary profession.
Speaking about the Fellowship, Prof. Cunningham commented: “I feel extremely honoured to have been awarded the Fellowship. Given the RCVS’s esteemed heritage at the forefront of the veterinary profession, it was a wonderful surprise to learn I’d been selected for this prestigious accolade.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank of all of the partner institutions and fellow researchers that have made my work possible over the past 30 years.”