Zoological Society award for Imperial epidemiologist

Professor Christl Donnelly has been awarded the Frink Medal for outstanding contribution to zoology.

The Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) scientific awards, established in 1837, recognise outstanding contributions to zoological research and conservation, rewarding individuals whose pioneering work helps us better understand and conserve animals and their habitats worldwide.

The Frink Award, this year awarded to Professor Christl Donnelly, is the Society’s highest award for zoologists and is presented to a professional scientist for substantial and original contributions to zoology.

World-leading expert

As a world-leading expert in infectious disease epidemiology and control, Professor Donnelly is part of Imperial’s COVID-19 Response Team. She is Professor of Statistical Epidemiology and Associate Director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (MRC GIDA) and Professor of Applied Statistics at the University of Oxford.

Professor Donnelly has been working in collaborative groups analysing the transmissibility of the virus that causes COVID-19, the case fatality ratio, the effectiveness of international surveillance and the predicted impacts of control measures. She was awarded a CBE in January 2018 for services to epidemiology and the control of infectious diseases.

“Huge honour”

Entrance to ZSL London Zoo
London Zoo, operated by the Zoological Society of London (credit: Shutterstock / photocritical)

Professor Donnelly said: “It is a huge honour to receive the Frink Medal from ZSL. Many strands of my research have focussed on diseases which affect both animals and humans. Given that I headed to university planning to become a biologist, the zoological aspects of my work complete a circle which has included statistics, epidemiology, medicine, veterinary science, ecology, and animal behaviour.

“It is particularly meaningful that this award has also been received by Sir Roy Anderson and Lord John Krebs with whom I have worked closely. I have collaborated intensively with ZSL senior research fellow Prof Rosie Woodroffe for almost 25 years on diseases including bovine TB, rabies, and canine distemper. We jointly supervised several Imperial-ZSL PhD students over this time.”

The Frink Medal was instituted in 1973 and first presented in 1974. The prize is a bronze plaque depicting a bison, designed and carved by British sculptor Elisabeth Frink. The Frink Medal has previously been awarded to Sir Roy Anderson, Professor in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial.

“Insightful analytical studies”

Professor Geoff Boxshall, ZSL Secretary, added: “The Frink Medal for 2020 was awarded to Prof Christl Donnelly for her outstanding epidemiological work on infectious diseases. Her insightful analytical studies have helped shaped policies and responses to disease outbreaks such as Ebola, Zika virus and, closer to home, Bovine TB.”

ZSL is an international conservation charity, founded in 1826, operating London and Whipsnade Zoos.