On Thursday April 7 and Friday April 8, 2022 the seventh annual Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) Spring Meeting took place. Around 200 attendees from 48 countries joined us online. In Dr Richard Truman’s words, chair of the LRI Scientific Review Committee, “this meeting is designed mainly to review the progress of the various research projects supported by the LRI. It is also intended to be a form for the exchange of new information from established scientists and young investigators, as well as a platform for facilitating networking and, hopefully, developing new synergies.” 

In total 29 progress presentations; 21 regular and 8 so-called pitch presentations were given in two parallel tracks. Regular presentations were given on the progress of ongoing studies, whereas the pitch presentations were on research projects that started recently. The presenters covered a wide variety of studies, ranging from basic science to social science research projects. Regardless of the research topic, the potential impact of the projects for persons affected by leprosy, or at risk of being affected, is always at the epicenter. As the director of LRI, Linda Hummel said: “We share one goal; achieving zero leprosy. We share the drive to do so with a focus on the solutions for the ultimate beneficiaries; the people affected by leprosy.” 

In addition to the progress presentation sessions, the WHO Global Leprosy Programme gave an opening keynote presentation on WHO’s ongoing work on the definition, criteria, and indicators for interruption of transmission and elimination of leprosy. The plenary keynote presentations on the second day were devoted to the Excellence in Disability Prevention Integrated across Neglected Tropical Diseases (EnDPoINT) project and to the achievements & plans of the LRI and the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) Research Agenda implementation. 

Because of its virtual nature, the meeting brought together a dedicated, worldwide community of researchers who shared their work, progress and difficulties with the LRI research committees, fellow researchers, funders and interested audience. We would like to thank everyone who attended, presented, chaired, and helped in any and every way! 


Want to watch sessions you were unable to attend or relive some of your LRI Spring meeting 2022 moments? All plenary sessions and progress presentations have been recorded. The recordings are available on this page:

Day 1 - April 7th 2022

Opening plenary and Keynote presentation - Day 1

1. Words of Welcome by Ms Linda Hummel (Director LRI) and Dr Richard Truman (SRC Chairman)
2. Keynote presentation on WHO’s ongoing work on the definition, criteria and indicators for interruption of transmission and elimination of leprosy - by Dr V.R. Pemmaraju (WHO Global Leprosy Programme)
Chair: Dr Richard Truman

Progress Presentation Sessions - Day 1

Progress Presentation Session 1A: Reactions & treatment

Chair: Dr Zoica Barkirtzief da SilvaPereira | Co-chair/moderator: MsJannine Ebenso

1A.1 Helminth influences in leprosy: Indicators, Treatment, Reactions and Clinical Outcome / Dr Deanna Hagge - The Leprosy Mission Nepal

1A.2: Implementation of Dapsone Hypersensitivity Syndrome (DHS) Biomolecular Predictive Test to reduce the incidence of DHS among Leprosy Patients in Papua and Nepal / Ms Hana Krismawati - National Institute Health Research and Development of Papua, Indonesia

1A.3: Does extra clofazimine for MB cases at high risk of ENL improve their prognosis/outcome over 2 years? / Ms Anju Wakade - Bombay Leprosy Project, India

1A.4 Improving management of leprosy reactions and quality of life of persons affected / Dr Brittney Mengistu– Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Progress Presentation Session 1B: Diagnostic tests

Chair: Dr Gigi Ebenezer | Co-chair/moderator: Dr Christa Kasang

1B.1 Genomic markers for pathological variants and transmission of leprosy bacilli / Dr Pushpendra Singh - National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, India and Dr Itu Singh - Stanley Browne Lab, TLMTI

1B.2: Monitoring the effect of prophylactic interventions in contacts of leprosy patients including field-application of a novel immunodiagnostic test in Bangladesh / Dr Anouk van Hooij - Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands

1B.3: Point-of-care immunodiagnostic tests for detection of leprosy and Mycobacterium leprae infection in high & low endemic areas in the South American Amazon / Ms Louise Pierneef - Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands

1B.4: Functional analysis of candidate variants in the early-onset leprosy phenotype using a novel cellular model / Prof. Marcelo Mira - Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná, Brazil

Progress Presentation Session 2A: Reactions

Chair: Prof Paul Fine | Co-chair/moderator: Dr Lena Fiebig

1. Engaging with leprosy-endemic communities in Papua, Indonesia, to enhance case finding, recruitment and retention in the MetLep Trial / Dr Marlous Grijsen – Oxford University, UK

2. ENLIST MTX – Two randomised controlled trials of methotrexate in erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL) / Dr Barbara de Barros - London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

3. Exploring strategies and identifying effective mechanisms to mobilize persons disabled as a result of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) to influence policy and programs to ensure person centered approach for affected persons in Cote d’Ivoire / Dr Julien Ake - effect:hope, Canada

4. Assessing Electronic Data Collection Tools, Pathways and HMIS Integration for Leprosy and LF MMDP Data to Improve Service Delivery / Mr Stephen Boateng- Ghana Health Services

Progress Presentation Session 2B: Stigma & mental well-being

2B.1 Informing (generic) approaches to reduce stigma: Capturing culture-specific stigma dynamics by understanding ‘What matters most’ / Dr Dadun– University of Indonesia

2B.2: Assessing the effectiveness of family-based approaches aimed at prevention & sustainable self-management of disabilities, impacting the quality of life, mental wellbeing & participation of people with leprosy, podoconiosis and LF & their families /Mr Moges Wubie – Debre Markos University

2B.3: Improving mental health and quality of life of persons affected by leprosy or Buruli ulcer in Southern Nigeria / Dr Ngozi Ekeke - German Leprosy and TB Relief Association Nigeria

Day 2 - April 8th 2022

Opening plenary and Keynote presentation

Keynote presentation on the Excellence in Disability Prevention Integrated across Neglected Tropical Diseases (EnDPoINT) project by Dr Oumer Ali (CDT-Africa, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia)
Chair: Dr Richard Truman

Progress Presentation Sessions - Day 2

Progress Presentation Sessions 3A: Early Detection 

Chair: Dr Patricia Deps | Co-chair/moderator: Dr Sunil Anand

1. Assessing the effectiveness of Intensified Extended Contact Survey (IECS) to routine leprosy case detection in Bangladesh / Dr Dipak Kumar Biswas – Damien Foundation Bangladesh

2. Integrated approach with skin camp, eSkin Health app, and teledermatology in early detection and effective management of skin NTDs in Côte d’Ivoire / Mr Aubin Yao, Hope Commission International, Côte d’Ivoire

3. Collaboration with traditional healers to reduce the delay of leprosy diagnosis and improve detection of hidden leprosy patients in Sierra Leone / Dr Mariama Mahmoud - National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Progamme, Sierra Leone

Progress Presentation Session 3B : Transmission

Chair: Prof. Françoise Portaels | Co-chair/moderator: Dr Peter Steinmann

1. ComLep: Deep sequencing of skin biopsies reveals no drug resistant M. leprae in the Comoros / Prof. Bouke de Jong – Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium

2. Safety trial to transition the defined subunit vaccine, LepVax, into M. leprae- infected individuals in a leprosy-endemic country - Leprosy Vaccine Phase 1b / Ms Becky Rivoire – American Leprosy Missions

3. Molecular Mechanisms of Immunomodulation Imparted by Mycobacterium indicus pranii (MIP) vaccine against multibacillary leprosy / Dr Pushpendra Singh - National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, India

4. The Use of Molecular Methods in Subclinical Murine Models of Leprosy to Examine the Efficacy of Proposed Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Regimens / Dr Vino Cheriyan – National Hansen’s Diseases Programs, USA

Progress Presentation Session 4A : Post Exposure Prophylaxis

Chair: Dr Jos Dekker | Co-chair/moderator: Dr Christa Kasang

1. Chemoprophylaxis for leprosy: comparing the effectiveness and feasibility of a skin camp intervention to a health centre based intervention (PEP4LEP) / Mr Ephrem Mamo – Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

2. Post ExpOsure Prophylaxis for LEprosy in the Comoros and Madagascar (PEOPLE) / Dr Epco Hasker – Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium

3. Testing an App supported delivery system for Leprosy Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) services / Dr Samarul Islam - NLR India

4. Leprosy Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance in Post Exposure Prophylaxis Setting in Tanzania (LARS) / Dr Erica Sanga - National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Tanzania

Progress Presentation Session 4B : Diagnostic test

Chair: Prof. Victor Rutten |  Co-chair/moderator: Dr Lucretia Acosta

1. Identify leprosy associated M.Leprae transcriptomic & human host immune signatures that aid as early signals for determination of Type I&II reactions / Dr Madhusmita Das - Schieffelin Institute of Health- Research & Leprosy Centre, India

2. Using plasma metabolomics to increase our understanding of metabolic changes in leprosy and associated reactions: A proof-of-concept study / Dr Jessica Fairley - Emory University, USA

3. Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy using comparative transcriptomics / Dr Pushpendra Singh & Mr Anuj Mavlankar - National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, India

Plenary: Keynote presentation and Closing

Keynote presentation: Achievements & plans of the LRI and the GPZL Research Agenda implementation - by Dr Nienke Veldhuijzen (LRI Technical Officer)

Chair: Dr Richard Truman

Closing: Ms Linda Hummel (Director LRI) and Dr Richard Truman (Chairman SRC)