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Can we make rabies history? Realising the value of research for the global elimination of rabies

Prize lecture


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Leeuwenhoek Lecture 2018 given by Professor Sarah Cleaveland OBE FRS.

Dogs vaccinated against rabies during a village campaign in a Maasai community of northern Tanzania. Photo credit: Felix Lankester

Rabies is one of the world’s oldest-known, most terrifying and most deadly diseases.  Although the disease no longer poses a threat to public health in many wealthier parts of the world, tens of thousands of people in impoverished communities of Asia and Africa still die from rabies every year as a result of rabid dog bites.  International efforts are now focused on a global target of zero human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030. 
This presentation describes how more than 100 years of rabies research provides cause for optimism as to the feasibility of canine rabies elimination but also highlights the need for realism in the path towards elimination, emphasising the importance of partnerships, political will, public engagement and perseverance. 

Research on rabies also has broader relevance to the control and elimination of several diseases of current concern to human and animal health, including emerging and neglected diseases, and exemplifies the benefits of taking of a “One Health” approach to disease control and prevention.
The prize lecture will be webcast live and the video recording will be available shortly after the event.

Attending the event

  • Free to attend
  • No registration required
  • Doors open from 18:00, and seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis
  • This event may be popular and entry cannot be guaranteed
  • Live subtitles will be available
  • British Sign Language interpretation will be available on request. Please let the Events team know if you plan to attend at least two weeks before the event.
  • Travel and accessibility information

The award

The Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture is awarded biennially. It was originally established to recognise excellence in the field of microbiology, bacteriology, virology, mycology and parasitology, and microscopy.

Professor Sarah Cleaveland OBE FRS  is awarded the Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture 2018 in recognition for her pioneering work towards the eradication of rabies throughout the world.

For all enquiries, please contact the Events team.

Event video

Can we make rabies history? Realising the value of research for the global elimination of rabies The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK