Jo Middleton is a biologist trained in medical and veterinary acarology, and is based in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health in a team led by Professor Jackie Cassell. Jo works across BSMS host institutions, with research in Life Sciences at University of Sussex, and Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at University of Brighton. Much of Jo’s research and teaching involves interrelated work at two very different scales, that of microscopic parasites (specifically acarines) and that of Planetary Health, an emerging field which aims to safeguard both human health and the natural systems that underpin it.
Before joining BSMS Jo worked in the ambulance service and taught courses for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals staff and those travelling to remote areas. They have a long term commitment to biodiversity conservation, with a particular focus on forest preservation and indigenous health in Oceania.
Jo is a peer reviewer for the Department of Health (UK government), evidence mapping for policy; Epidemiology and Infection (University of Cambridge Press); BMJ Open (BMJ Group); PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (Public Library of Science); and the Planetary Health Alliance 2018/The Lancet Planetary Health.
Surfaces: an interdisciplinary project to understand and enhance health in the vulnerable rainforests of Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Jo is a Co-I on Surfaces. PNG’s globally important rainforests are threatened by logging, and its health-related Sustainable Development Goal indicators are worse than all but two countries outside sub-Saharan Africa. Surfaces is mapping evidence on integrated health and conservation projects worldwide, and aims to provide a practical example in PNG’s rainforests, focusing first on neglected tropical skin diseases (specifically scabies and fungal diseases).
Scabies Research Project
Jo came to BSMS in January 2014 to work on the Scabies Research Project, a collaboration between BSMS, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Public Health England (PHE). The project carried out the first UK study into scabies outbreaks in care homes for the elderly, which are a considerable public health burden and highly distressing for residents. Following completion of clinical visits, the team is developing national outbreak guidelines and a GP toolkit. Scabies is also a neglected tropical skin disease and the team is now engaged in international work in Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia.
Ecology of Lyme disease
Jo is investigating ecological determinants of Lyme disease hazard in the South Downs National Park and potential One Health based interventions. This involves field collection of ticks, acarine taxonomy, real-time PCR pathogen identification, and a systematic review to determine if interventions that aim to decrease Lyme disease hazard at non-domestic sites can be effective without negatively affecting ecosystem health.