Prof. Andrew Cunningham
- 2015–present Deputy Director of Science, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
- 2007–2014 Deputy Head, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
- 2013–present Visiting Professor, Universidad Andres Bello, Chile
- 2011–present Honorary Professor, University College London
- 2011–present Professor of Wildlife Epidemiology, Institute of Zoology, London
- 2004–2010 Reader in Wildlife Epidemiology, Institute of Zoology, London
- 2001–present Head of Wildlife Epidemiology, Institute of Zoology, London
- 1988–2001 Veterinary Pathologist, Institute of Zoology, London
- 2016–present Fellow, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
- 1987–2016 Member, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
- 2010–2015 Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award
- 2001 PhD, University of London
- 1987 BVMS, University of Glasgow
I joined the Institute of Zoology in 1988 as Veterinary Pathologist for the Zoological Society of London; a job which involved carrying out diagnostic pathology on zoo and wild animal species. Since 2001 I have led a team of researchers at the Institute of Zoology who work on wildlife diseases, with particular reference to biodiversity conservation, on a wide range of animal taxa: from snails to whales.
My main area of interest is the study of disease threats to wildlife conservation, although I am also interested in host-parasite interactions and co-evolution, and in wildlife disease and comparative pathology per se. One of my main projects is the investigation of catastrophic vulture declines in India with colleagues at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds , the Bombay Natural History Society , the Venkateshwara Hatcheries Poultry Diagnostic and Research Centre and the National Bird of Prey Centre. Much of this work has been funded by the RSPB and we recently won a grant from the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species to further our studies on this major ecological and socio-economic problem.
Another area of interest is that of global amphibian population declines: probably one of the most enigmatic and worrying conservation problems of our times. Investigating these is the primary role of the IUCN’s Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force (DAPTF). Since 1997, I have been chair of the pathology and diseases working group of the DAPTF. In 1996, I was part of an international team that co-discovered a novel chytrid fungus causing a disease of amphibians and in 1997 I co-ordinated international efforts to investigate this further. This culminated in finding that infection with this new type of chytrid fungus is closely associated with global amphibian population declines. In 2000, I was co-awarded a CSIRO medal for this work. More about work on amphibian diseases and the role of chytridiomycosis in population declines can be found here.
Closer to home, and along with the U.K. charity Froglife, I have been investigating a new epidemic disease of frogs in Britain. Affected frogs die with either systemic haemorrhages or with skin ulceration. Using a variety of traditional and modern pathological techniques, we showed this to be caused by a ranavirus, most probably introduced from North America. Other active wildlife research interests include infectious and non-infectious diseases of conservation significance, such as parasitic diseases of Polynesian tree snails and BSE-related diseases of zoo animals.
Recent policy engagement
In May 2021, appointed one of 26 international experts to found the Quadripartite (WHO/FAO/OIE/UNEP) One Health High Level Expert Panel. The Panel has an advisory role to the United Nations partner agencies on One Health-related matters to support improved cooperation among governments and provide evidence-based scientific and policy advice to address the challenges raised by One Health.
Keynote speaker at the 2021 AGM of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Conservation.
July 2021: participated in the Global Dialogue on the Role of Food and Agriculture in the Global Biodiversity Framework, convened virtually by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
September 2021: invited presentation given at a conference on Preventing Pandemics Through a More Plant-based Food System, convened in the Danish Parliament by the Vegetarian Society of Denmark. A video recording of this presentation can be found here.
January 2022: as part of ZSL’s year-long collaboration with Expo2020, participated in the Health & Wellness week, giving a presentation on how zoonotic disease spill-over from wildlife happens followed by a discussion on pandemic prevention.
Invited member of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) Expert Working Group on Alternative Configurations for the Institutional Design of the European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), to advise on possible alternative configurations for future global and EU health governance.
Invited by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to give a presentation, and participate in a panel discussion, on the Illegal Wildlife Trade and risks to Human Health as a contribution to a High-Level Conference of the Americas on Illegal Wildlife Trade, convened by the Government of Colombia and the Government of the United Kingdom in Colombia in April 2022.
Provided advice to the G7-mandated One Health Intelligence Scoping Study and to PREZODE (Preventing ZOonotic Disease Emergence), an international initiative to better understand the risks of emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases, their prevention and their early detection.
For full publications see
Valenzuela-Sánchez, A., Azat, C., Cunningham, A. A., Delgado, S., Bacigalupe, L. D., Beltrand, J., Serrano, J. M., Sentenac, H., Haddow, N., Toledo, V., Schmidt, B. R. & Cayuela, H. (2022) Interpopulation differences in male reproductive effort drive the population dynamics of a host exposed to an emerging fungal pathogen. Journal of Animal Ecology 91, 308-319. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13603
Jolma, E. R., Gibson, L., Suu-Ire, R. D., Fleischer, G., Asumah, S., Languon, S., Restif, O., Wood, J. L. N. & Cunningham, A. A. (2021) Longitudinal secretion of paramyxovirus RNA in the urine of straw-coloured fruit bats (Eidolon helvum). Viruses 13, 1654. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13081654.
Gibson, L., Ribas, M. P., Kemp, J., Restif, O., Suu-Ire, R. D., Wood, J. L. N. & Cunningham, A. A. (2021) Persistence of multiple paramyxoviruses in a closed captive colony of fruit bats (Eidolon helvum). Viruses 13, 1659. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13081659.
Crook, J. M., Murphy, I., Carter, D. P., Pullan, S. T., Carroll, M., Vipond, R., Cunningham, A. A.* & Bell, D. (2021) Metagenomic identification of a new sarbecovirus from horseshoe bats in Europe. Scientific Reports 11, 14723. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-94011-z
Valenzuela-Sánchez, A., Cayuela, H., Wilber, M., Canessa, S., Bacigalupe, L., Muths, E., Cunningham, A. A., Ozgul, A., Johnson, P. T. J. & Schmidt, B. R. (2021) Why disease ecology needs life-history theory: a host perspective. Ecology Letters 24, 876-890 https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13681.
Redding, D. W., Atkinson, P. M., Cunningham, A. A., Lo Iacono, G., Moses, L. M., Wood, J. & Jones, K. E. (2019) Impacts of environmental and socio-economic factors on emergence and epidemic potential of Ebola in Africa. Nature Communications 10, 4531. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12499-6
Dadam, D., Robinson, R. A., Clements, A., Peach, W. J., Bennett, M., Rowcliffe, M. J. & Cunningham, A. A. (2019) Avian malaria-mediated population decline of a widespread iconic bird species. Royal Society Open Science 6, 182197. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.182197
Yan, F., Lü, J., Zhang, B., Yuan, Z., Zhao, H., Huang, S., Wei, G., Mi, X., Zou, D., Xu, W., Chen, S., Wu, M., Xiao, H., Liang, Z., Tapley, B., Turvey, S. T., Papenfuss, T. J., Cunningham, A. A., Murphy, R. W., Zhang, Y. & Che, J. (2018) The Chinese giant salamander exemplifies the hidden extinction of cryptic species. Current Biology 28, R590-R592. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.004
O'Hanlon, S., Rieux, A., Farrer, R., Rosa, G. M., Waldman, B., Bataille, A., Kosch, T., Murray, K., Brankovics, B., Fumagalli, M., Martin, M. D., Wales, N., Alvarado-Rybak, M., Bates, K. A., Berger, L., Böll, S., Brookes, L., Clare, F., Courtois, E. A., Cunningham, A. A., Doherty-Bone, T. M., Ghosh, P., Gower, D., Hintz, W. E., Höglund, J., Jenkinson, T. S., Lin, C-F., Laurila, A., Loyau, A., Martel, A., Meurling, S., Miaud, C., Minting, P., Pasmans, F., Schmeller, D., Schmidt, B. R., Shelton, J. M. G., Skerratt, L. F., Smith, F., Soto-Azat, C., Spagnoletti, M., Tessa, G., Toledo, L. F., Valenzuela-Sánchez, A., Verster, R., Vörös, J., Webb, R. J., Wierzbicki, C., Wombwell, E., Zamudio, K. R., Aanensen, D. M., James, T. Y., Gilbert, M. T. P., Weldon, C., Bosch, J., Balloux, F., Garner, T. W. J. & Fisher, M. C. (2018) Recent Asian origin of chytrid fungi causing global amphibian declines. Science 360, 621-627. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar1965
Lawson, B., Robinson, R. A., Toms, M. P., Risely, K., MacDonald, S. & Cunningham, A. A. (2018) Health hazards to wild birds and risk factors associated with anthropogenic food provisioning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 373, 20170091. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2017.0091
Valenzuela-Sánchez, A., Schmidt, B. R., Uribe-Rivera, D., Costas, F., Cunningham, A. A.¶ & Soto-Azat, C.¶ (2017) Cryptic disease-induced mortality may cause host extinction in an apparently-stable host-parasite system. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284: 20171176. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.1176
Cunningham, A. A., Daszak, P. and Wood, J. L. N. (2017) One Health, Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Wildlife: Two Decades of Progress? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 372, 20160167. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0167
Lo Iacono, G., Cunningham, A. A., Fichet-Calvet, E., Garry, R. F., Grant, D. S., Leach, M., Moses, L. M., Nichols, G., Schieffelin, J. S., Shaffer, J. G., Webb, C. T. & Wood, J. L. N. (2016) A unified framework for the infection dynamics of zoonotic spillover and spread. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 10, e0004957. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0004957
Hudson, M. A., Young, R. P., D’Urban Jackson, J., Orozco-terWengel, P., Martin, L., James, A., Sulton, M., Garcia, G., Griffiths, R. A., Thomas, R., Magin, C., Bruford, M. W. & Cunningham, A. A. (2016) Dynamics and genetics of a disease-driven species decline to near extinction: lessons for conservation. Scientific Reports 6, 30772. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep30772
Cunningham, A. A., Turvey, S. T., Zhou, F., Meredith, H., Guan, W., Liu, X., Sun, C., Wang, Z. & Wu, M. (2016) The development of the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) farming industry in Shaanxi Province, China: conservation threats and opportunities. Oryx 50, 265-273. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605314000842
Jepson, P. D., Deaville, R., Barber, J. L., Aguilar, À., Borrell, A., Murphy, S., Barry, J., Brownlow, A., Barnett, J., Berrow, S., Cunningham, A. A., Davison, N., ten Doeschate, M., Esteban, R., Ferreira, M., Foote, A. D., Genov, T., Giménez, J., Loveridge, J., Llavona, Á., Martin, V., Maxwell, D. L., Papachlimitzou, A., Penrose, R., Perkins, M. W., Smith, B., de Stephanis, R., Tregenza, N., Verborgh, P., Fernandez, A. & Law, R. J. (2016) PCB pollution continues to impact populations of orcas and other dolphins in European waters. Scientific Reports 6, 18573. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep18573
Martel, A., Blooi, M., Adriaensen, C., Van Rooij, P., Beukema, W., Fisher, M. C., Farrer, R. A., Schmidt, B. R., Tobler, U., Goka, K., Lips, K. R., Muletz, C., Zamudio, K., Bosch, J., Lötters, S., Wombwell, E., Garner, T. W. J., Cunningham, A. A., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Salvidio, S., Ducatelle, R., Nishikawa, K., Nguyen, T. T., Kolby, J., Van Bocxlaer, I., Bossuyt, F. & Pasmans, F. (2014) Recent introduction of a chytrid fungus endangers Western Palearctic salamanders. Science 346, 630-631. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1258268
O’Shea, T. J., Cryan, P. M., Cunningham, A. A., Fooks, A. R., Hayman, D. T. S., Luis, A. D., Peel, A. J., Plowright, R. K. & Wood, J. L. N. (2014) Bat flight and emerging zoonotic viruses. Emerging Infectious Diseases 20. DOI: 10.3201/eid2005.130539.
Peel, A. J., Sargan, D. R., Baker, K. S., Hayman, D. T. S., Barr, J. A., Crameri, G., Suu-Ire, R., Broder, C. C., Wang, L-F., Fooks, A. R., Rossiter, S. J., Wood, J. L. N. & Cunningham, A. A. (2013) Continent-wide panmixia of an African fruit bat facilitates transmission of potentially zoonotic viruses. Nature Communications 4, 2770 https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms3770
Luis, A. D., Hayman, D. T. S., O’Shea, T. J., Cryan, P. M., Gilbert, A. T, Pulliam, J. R. C., Mills, J. N., Willis, C. K. R., Timonin, M. E., Cunningham, A. A., Fooks, A. R., Rupprecht, C. E., Wood, J. L. N. & Webb, C. T. (2013) A comparison of bats and rodents as reservoirs of zoonotic viruses: Are bats special? Proceedings of the Royal Society, B. 280, 20122753. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.2753
Wood, J. L. N., Leach, M., Waldman, L., MacGregor, H., Fooks, A. R., Jones, K., Restif, O., Dechmann, D., Hayman, D. T. S., Baker, K. S., Peel, A. J., Kamins, A. O., Fahr, J., Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y., Suu-Ire, R., Breiman, R. F., Epstein J. & Cunningham, A. A. (2012) A framework for the study of zoonotic disease emergence and its drivers: spillover of bat pathogens as a case study. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B. 367, 2881-2892. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2012.0228
Farrer, R. A., Weinert, L. A., Bielby, J., Garner, T. W. J., Balloux, F., Clare, F., Bosch, J., Cunningham, A. A., Weldon, C., du Preez, L. H., Anderson, L., Pond, S. L. K., Shahar-Golan, R., Henk, D. A. & Fisher, M. C. (2011) Multiple emergences of amphibian chytridiomycosis include a globalised hypervirulent recombinant lineage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 108,18732-18736. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1111915108
Robinson, R. A., Lawson, B., Toms, M. P., Peck, K., Kirkwood, J. K., Chantrey, J., Clatworthy, I., Evans, A., Hughes, L., Hutchinson, O. C., John, S., Pennycott, T., Perkins, M., Rowley, P., Simpson, V. R., Tyler, K. & Cunningham, A. A. (2010) Emerging Infectious Disease leads to Rapid Population Decline of Common British Birds. PLoS ONE. 5(8), e12215. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0012215
Kilpatrick, A. M., Daszak, P., Goodman, S. J., Rogg, H., Kramer, L. D., Cedeño, V. & Cunningham, A. A. (2006) Predicting pathogen introduction: West Nile virus spread to Galápagos. Conservation Biology 20, 1224-1231. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00423.x
Cunningham, A. A., Kirkwood, J. K., Dawson, M., Spencer, Y. I., Green, R. B. and Wells, G. A. H. (2004) Distribution of BSE infectivity in tissues of greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros). Emerging Infectious Diseases 10, 1044-1049. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid1006.030615
Jepson, P. D., Arbelo, M., Deaville, R., Patterson, T., Castro, P., Baker, J. R., Degollada, E., Ross, H. M., Herráez, P., Pocknell, A., Rodríguez, F., Howie, F., Espinosa, A., Reid, R. J.,Jaber, J. R., Martin, V., Cunningham, A. A. and Fernández, A. (2003) Gas-bubble disease in stranded cetaceans. Nature 425, 575-576. https://doi.org/10.1038/425575a
Cunningham, A. A., Daszak, P. and Rodríguez, J. P. (2003) Pathogen pollution: defining a parasitological threat to biodiversity conservation. Journal of Parasitology 89, S78-S83. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284061023_Pathogen_pollution_Defining_a_parasitological_threat_to_biodiversity_conservation
Prakash, V., Pain, D. J., Cunningham, A. A., Donald, P. F., Prakash, N., Verma, A., Gargi, R., Sivakumar, S. and Rahmani,A. R. (2003) Catastrophic collapse of Indian white-backed Gyps bengalensis and long-billed Gyps indicus vulture populations. Biological Conservation 109, 381-390. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00164-7
Daszak, P., Cunningham, A. A. and Hyatt, A. D. (2000) Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wildlife: Threats to Biodiversity and Human Health. Science 287, 443-449. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.287.5452.443
Cunningham, A. A. and Daszak, P. (1998) Extinction of a species of land snail due to infection with a microsporidian parasite. Conservation Biology 12, 1139-1141. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2387588
Berger, L., Speare, R., Daszak, P., Greene, D. E., Cunningham, A. A., Goggin, C. L., Slocombe, R., Ragan, M. A., Hyatt, A. D., McDonald, K. R., Hines, H. B., Lips, K. R., Marantelli, G. and Parkes, H. (1998) Chytridiomycosis causes amphibian mortality associated with population declines in the rain forests of Australia and Central America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95, 9031-9036. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.95.15.9031
Cunningham, A. A., Langton, T. E. S., Bennett, P. M., Lewin, J. F., Drury, S. E. N., Gough, R. E. and Macgregor, S. K. (1996) Pathological and microbiological findings from incidents of unusual mortality of the common frog (Rana temporaria). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London: Series B - Biological Sciences 351, 1539-1557. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.1996.0140
Kirkwood, J. K. and Cunningham, A. A. (1994) Epidemiological observations on spongiform encephalopathies in captive wild animals in the British Isles. Veterinary Record 135, 296-303. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.135.13.296