News archive 2007
New species named after King's VP28 Nov 2007, PR 191/07
A species of tapeworm, new to science (Oochoristica whitfieldii), has been named after Professor Phil Whitfield, King's College London Vice-Principal (Students), and internationally renowned parasitologist. The parasite, discovered by a former PhD student of Professor Whitfield's, lives in the gut of black iguanas of Mexico.
The parasite was discovered by Dr Sergio Guillen-Hernandez, now Head of Marine Biology at the University of Yucatan, Mexico. He explains the reason why the parasite has been named after his former supervisor. ‘This species has been named after Professor Phil Whitfield in recognition of both his contribution to our cumulative knowledge of the biology of parasites, and his inspirational teaching which has stimulated so many students with enthusiasm for the study of these fascinating organisms.'
Dr Guillen-Hernandez has had his research paper describing the species published in the Journal of Parasitology (2007) 93: 1136-1139.
Professor Whitfield comments: ‘It is a great honour to have one's name chosen for a new animal species and I am very grateful to Dr Guillen-Hernandez for thinking of me in this way. He was an inventive and energetic researcher during his time at King's and I have followed his subsequent academic career in Mexico with great interest.
‘Another overseas postgraduate student of mine, Dr Weerah Wonkham, now on the faculty at the University of Chiang Mai, Thailand has named another parasitic worm, (an acanthocephalan) ‘Pallisentis rex'. The “rex” in that name, meaning king in Latin, reflects the fact that his important work on this parasite was carried out at King's.'
Phil Whitfield is also Professor of Parasitology in the King's College London School of Biomedical & Health Sciences and continues to undertake research. He is seeking to understand the mechanisms that bring about and modulate the penetration of human skin by the invasive cercarial larval stages of the schistosome helminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni. Schistosomes infect more than 200 million people worldwide in over 70 countries and generate significant levels of pathology and mortality.
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,700 undergraduates and nearly 6,200 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, international relations, medicine, nursing and the sciences, and has played major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of health care professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres – more than any other university.
King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than £114 million, and has anannual income of more than £369 million.
Melanie Gardner, Public Relations Department
Tel: 020 7848 3073
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