Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Dr Orin Courtenay

Associate Professor (Reader)


Phone: 024 765 24550

Office: B135 

Courtenay webpage

Research Clusters

Microbiology & Infectious disease

Environment & Ecology

Warwick Centres and GRPs

Zeeman Institute

Vacancies and Opportunities

For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Currently recruiting for a post graduate medical entomologist on the CLIMOS project.

Research Interests

My interests focus on infectious diseases of medical and veterinary importance, in particular vector-borne Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) currently leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and onchocerciasis. Objectives: to improve human and animal health.

On-going collaborative projects include:

1. Field trials with the Brazilian Ministry of Health of a synthetic copy of a sand fly sex-aggregation pheromone as a novel method to attract vectors to insecticide for monitoring and control of visceral leishmaniasis in the Americas. Translation of science to policy.

2. A European-wide consortium CLIMOS to study the effects of climate and climate change on sand fly vectors to mitigate risk of human and animal infection with arboviruses and protozoa. One important goal is to develop an effective surveillance system for monitoring changes in infection risk, generating data to inform predictive climate and transmission mathematical models.

3. Quantification of biting rates by blackfly vectors on individuals at risk of onchocerciasis in endemic West African populations, by development and implementation of a novel serological test to detect human antibodies to blackfly saliva (deposited when blood-feeding). The results inform mathematical transmission models to validate the appropriate age-groups for surveillance towards achieving the WHO onchocerciasis elimination goals.

4. Field application of a similar human antibody assay to communities in the Sudan to characterise demographic and spatial patterns in bite exposure and visceral leishmaniasis risk, conducted alongside pilot studies to combat exophilic vectors.

5. Studies to investigate reasons limiting standard vector control (indoor residual spraying of insecticides) effectiveness against Chagas disease in the Bolivian Chaco, coupled with pilot studies of housing improvements using locally procured sustainable building materials to reduce household triatomine vector infestations, and pilot education programme to improve local knowledge, attitude and practise (KAP) scores.

The research activities broaden the learning experience and opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Research: Technical Summary

Some on-going collaborative project details:

1. Translational field studies and cluster-randomised trials in conjunction with the Brazilian Ministry of Health to test the efficacy of a synthetic copy of the male sex-aggregation pheromone released by Lutzomyia longipalpis, the important sand fly vector of Leishmania infantum causing visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in the Americas, as a novel lure-and-kill method. The synthetic pheromone placed in controlled-release dispensers attracts conspecific blood-seeking females to surveillance traps and/or to co-located insecticide to reduce vector abundance. This is the first time that a vector pheromone has been applied to combat infection of public / veterinary health concern.

2. Due to the absence of scalable methods to measure host exposure to blackfly vector bites, mathematical models supporting the 2030 WHO onchocerciasis elimination goals have necessarily assumed heterogeneities in biting patterns based on microfilaria infection rates. By developing an anti-saliva Ig assay for Simulium damnosum s.l., we have characterised demographic antibody acquisition and decay patterns suggesting development of immunotolerance or desensitization to blackfly saliva antigen in response to persistent exposure. These measures can be incorporated into onchocerciasis transmission models towards informing onchocerciasis control, elimination, and surveillance.

3. Indoor residual spraying of insecticides (IRS) as the standard vector control method against many vector-borne infectious diseases relying on vector contact with the insecticide. However, contact is limited for populations that are not particularly endophilic or endophagic, such as Phlebotomus orientalis, the principal vector of L. donovani causing VL throughout East Africa. Outdoor applications of pyrethroid sprayed onto household boundary fences and buildings in communities in the Sudan, demonstrate that a single application is sufficient to knockdown the vector population for the short transmission season. These results aim to improve Integrated Vector Management programmes which are largely based on the seasonality and behaviours of Plasmodium-transmitting mosquitoes, not on sand fly vectors.

    • Reader (Assistant Professor), University of Warwick
    • PhD, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
    • Research Assistant, Oxford University
    • BSc (Hons) Oxford Brooks University