icipe scientist appointed Head of a Max Planck Partner Group

Dr Merid Getahun, a scientist within the icipe Animal Health Theme, has been appointed Head of a Max Planck Partner Group, to be based at the Centre.

Set up by the globally renowned, Germany based, Max Planck Institutes, the Partner Groups are intended to foster interest-led, high quality international research partnerships. The goal is to promote and strengthen the careers of participating international scientists while increasing global circulation of the best minds.

Dr Merid Getahun
Dr Merid Getahun

Dr Getahun obtained a PhD in 2013 in the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, where he also conducted postdoctoral research. Indeed, his Head of Partner Group appointment has been made with the strong support of the Department’s Director, Prof. Dr. Bill S. Hansson, who is also Vice President, Max Planck Society and Vice Chair of the icipe Governing Council.

“In his role as Head of a Max Planck Partner Group, Dr Getahun has the chance to combine his outstanding qualities as a field biologist, and as a laboratory electrophysiologist and molecular biologist, to gain unique chemical ecology knowledge,” said Prof. Dr. Hansson.

He added: “I am also convinced that this opportunity will be of mutual benefit to icipe and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology through knowledge sharing between the Head of the Partner Group and other research teams at the two institutions. On our part, we stand to gain significantly especially in obtaining access to comprehensive information regarding tropical vector–pathogen-host interaction using relevant pathogens and hosts in their actual environment.”

 icipe Director General, Dr Segenet Kelemu noted: “We are delighted at the appointment of Dr Getahun, and we believe that this opportunity will reinforce ties with the Max Planck Institutes, not just in his own area of research but across our Centre’s programmes. We anticipate new collaborations and hope to benefit from scientifc and technological expertise available at the Max Planck Institute. In effect, we forsee a partnership that will create synergies and increased impact of scientific research at both institutes.”

Dr Getahun’s current research at icipe, funded by European Union, aims to develop strategies for the control of camel trypanosomosis (also known as surra), which is spread by tsetse flies and other biting flies. The disease has devastating impact on camels: affected animals succumb to severe haemorrhaging and abort more or less every foetus.

The research aims to understand the interactions between camel and the biting flies that transmit trypanosomes, by studying odour emission changes caused by trypanosomosis and how fly behaviour is affected by these alterations. Ultimately, this information will lead to the development of an attract and kill strategy for major vectors of camel surra.