On Thursday April 8 and Friday April 9, 2021 the sixth edition of the annual Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) Spring Meeting took place in a virtual set-up, for the first time. Around 220 attendees from 33 countries joined among whom were representatives from the Turing Foundation, the WHO Global Leprosy Programme, the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL), the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP) and The Research to Stop Neglected Tropical Diseases Transmission Initiative (R2STOP).

As in previous years, the meeting was devoted to presentations on the progress and results of LRI funded projects to the LRI Scientific Review Committee, the LRI Steering Committee, representatives from all funded research groups, associate partners and co-financiers, and representatives of all funded projects. In addition, representatives of projects funded by R2STOP participated in the meeting and shared their research findings. In total 28 progress presentations: 22 regular and 6 short or 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 research to social science research projects. Even though scientific updates were shared, the participants and presenters did not loose sight of the importance and potential impact for persons affected by leprosy. As LRI's intern Laura de Groot aptly said: “There is a difference between having leprosy and becoming a person with leprosy.”

In addition to the progress presentation sessions, the WHO Global Leprosy Programme gave an opening keynote presentation on the global leprosy situation, the Global Leprosy Strategy and research priorities at global level. The plenary keynote presentations on the second day were devoted to updates on different aspects of the GPZL’s working groups as well at the research agenda priorities and results of a research landscaping inventory.

After the presentations the audience could ask questions to the presenters via the Q&A chat function. Furthermore, time was allocated to network via the online networking area. This allowed the audience to interact with each other and gain new connections, as would happen in a face-to-face meeting.

This virtual meeting successfully brought together a dedicated community of researchers who shared their work, progress and difficulties with the research committees, researchers, funders and other stakeholders. 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 moments? All plenary sessions and progress presentations have been recorded. The recordings are available on this page:

Opening Plenary – Day 1:

1. Words of Welcome by Ms Linda Hummel (Director LRI) and Dr Richard Truman (SRC Chairman)

2. Keynote presentation on Global leprosy situation: current status and future directions by Dr Erwin Cooreman (WHO Global Leprosy Programme)

Plenary: Keynote presentations – Day 2:

1. Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) Leprosy Diagnostic Working Group by Dr Sundeep Chaitanya Vedithi (American Leprosy Missions)

2. Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) Country Modeling Working Group by Dr David Blok (Erasmus MC)

Keynote presentation and Closing Plenary – Day 2:

1. Keynote presentation - Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) Research Priorities: Prioritization and landscaping results by Dr Nienke Veldhuijzen (LRI Technical Officer)

2. Closing by Ms Linda Hummel (Director LRI) and Dr Richard Truman (Chairman SRC)

Progress presentation session 1A – Day 1:

1. Integrated approach with skin camp, eSkin Health app, and teledermatology in early detection and effective management of skin NTDs in Côte d’Ivoire / Dr Rie Yotsu - Nagasaki University, Japan

2. Meaningful Engagement of Persons affected by Leprosy in Research: A Multi-stakeholder Perspective on Barriers of the Leprosy Context and Strategies for Enhancement/ Ms Laura de Groot - VU University Amsterdam

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

Progress presentation session 1B – Day 1:

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. Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy / Dr Pushpendra Singh - National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, India

3. Identification of human susceptibility genes and pathogen-based transmission patterns / Ms Maria Tio Coma - Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands

Progress presentation session 2A – Day 1:

1. Inflamed Skin Lesions Along an Area of a Peripheral Nerve / Dr Marivic Balagon - Leonard Wood Memorial Center for TB & Leprosy Research, Philippines

2. A qualitative and participatory research to improve the management of Erythema Nodosum Leprosum / Ms Annisa Ika Putri - VU Athena Institute, The Netherlands

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

4. 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 and their families / Mr Moges Wubie – Debre Markos University, Ethiopia

Progress presentation session 2B – Day 1:

1. 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

2. 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

3. 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

Progress presentation session 3A – Day 2:

1. Promoting inclusion where it matters most: Building resilience in individuals and families based on evidence and participatory methods / Ms Anna van ‘t Noordende – NLR , the Netherlands

2. Intersectionality of inclusion / Mr Sarju Sing Rai – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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

4. Capturing culture-specific stigma dynamics by understanding ‘What matters most’ / Dr Ruth Peters – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Progress presentation session 3B – Day 2:

1. Role of arthropods in transmission of leprosy / Dr Kevin Macaluso - Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, USA

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

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

4. 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

Progress presentation session 4A – Day 2:

1. Mobile Technology (M-Health) – A novel approach to facilitate and motivate self-care among the leprosy affected / Mr Sathish Kumar Paul - Schieffelin Institute of Health- Research & Leprosy Centre, India

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

3. Design a customized offloading devices to promote healing of plantar ulcers / Mr David Prakash Kumar - Schieffelin Institute of Health- Research & Leprosy Centre, India

Progress presentation session 4B – Day 2:

1. Efficacy and Tolerability of Adjunct Metformin in Combination with Standard Multidrug Treatment for Multibacillary Leprosy: A Randomized Double-blind, Controlled Proof-of-Concept Trial in Indonesia / Dr Marlous Grijsen – Oxford University, UK

2. Chemoprophylaxis for leprosy: comparing the effectiveness and feasibility of a skin camp intervention to a health centre based intervention (PEP4LEP) / Dr Marega Abdoulaye – Lúrio University, Mozambique

3. ComLep: Improved understanding of ongoing transmission of leprosy in the Comoros, a region hyper endemic for the disease / Ms Sofie Braet – Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium

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