Tom Pennance is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Western University of Health Sciences (Oregon, USA). His current research uses a combination of experimental, genomic and transcriptomic tools to investigate the diversity of African Biomphalaria spp. and their dynamics of infection with Schistosoma mansoni, primarily in regard to the allelic variation associated with resistance and susceptibility. Before this, Tom obtained his master’s degree in Medical Parasitology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) leading to him working for the Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation (Natural History Museum and Royal Veterinary College) population genetics project and finally his PhD in African Bulinus diversity and S. haematobium transmission (Natural History Museum and Cardiff University).
Intermediate host snails are a crucial component of the schistosome life cycle, it is all too often overlooked that there is no schistosomiasis without these molluscan hosts. Despite this, we still know very little about the biology of the snail vector species, and their interactions with schistosomes, particularly those from endemic regions of Africa. Tom’s overall aim in research has been to help fill these knowledge gaps, to help understand where vector snail hosts are endemic and how schistosomes are transmitted by them.