Dr Tony Fulford

Biography & Research

Tanmay Toucan

On the Zambezi River, Zambia, October 2014.

My background is in medical research in Africa.  I work for 14 years as statistician in the Department of Pathology in Cambridge on the immunology and epidemiology Schistosomiasis in Kenya and Uganda, a joint project with the Kenyan Medical Research Institute and the Departments of Health in Kenya and Uganda.  The chronic nature of this infection allows a window on the development of the immune response over a timespan of decades: we demonstrated that the effective TH2 (IgE) immune response appears to be host-age dependent and does not develop until after puberty.

After that I worked for 15 years in nutrition research with the Medical Research Council’s International Nutrition Group.  The wide-ranging research of this group was largely conducted at a field station at Keneba in the Gambia.  Particular focuses were the interactions between iron, anaemia and infection, fetal and infant growth and early (nutritional) determinants of adult disease.  The analysis of longitudinal growth and seasonality (and other cyclic) data, genetic and epigenetic association analysis.

In both posts I provided statistical and data management support to the research team.  In Keneba I directed the development of a demographic surveillance system, the computerisation of the clinic and a DNA/biobank, all of which were integrated with one another and with data generated by the numerous research projects (ref).

I joined the Department of Zoology as an academic visitor from Oct 2014.  Here I have been engaged in a number of projects including analysis of Major Colebrook-Robjent’s egg collection data (with Claire Spottiswoode), modelling overheating of ground-nesting birds’ eggs exposed to the intense tropical sun of Zambia (with Nick Horrocks), maintaining the cohort of PIT-tagged Great Tits in Madingley Wood and analysis of data from these and other projects (with Hannah Rowland) and changes in women’s attraction and attractiveness associated with hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle or hormonal contraception use (Rob Burriss and Hannah Rowland).

My publications can be found on my Google Scholar page where (as of Oct 2015) my lifetime H-index is given as 42 (28 since 2010).

My other interests include bird ringing and wildlife sound recording.


Dixit, T., English, S. & Lukas, D. (2017), The relationship between egg size and helper number in cooperative breeders: a meta-analysis across species. PeerJ 5:e4028; DOI 10.7717/peerj.4028. Read on journal website [Open Access]


Dr Gabriel Jamie gives a talk on mimicry in parasitic finches at the African BirdFair

Dr Gabriel Jamie gave a talk on mimicry in the parasitic finches of Africa at Birdlife South Africa’s Virtual African Birdfair. Please also see Dr Jessica van der Wal’s talk on our sister research project on honeyguide-human mutualism (more information at www.AfricanHoneyguides.com) and many other great research talks by our colleagues at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Also visit the amazing line-up of other talks at the Virtual African BirdFair, including a talk on bird art by the brilliant Faansie Peacock who has generously allowed us to use his illustrations in several of our scientific publications. Thank you BirdLife South Africa!

read more

Mairenn Attwood submits her MPhil thesis

Congratulations to Mairenn Attwood for successfully submitting her MPhil thesis at the University of Cambridge, entitled ‘Angry birds: does it pay a cuckoo to parasitise a highly aggressive host?’. In it, Mairenn asks whether high levels of aggression by fork-tailed drongos affect hawk mimicry by the African cuckoo, and whether it pays cuckoos to specialise on such aggressive hosts. An amazing feat of field experimental work in Zambia (in collaboration with Jess Lund), analysis and writing in just one year of research – well done Mairenn!

read more

Front cover of Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Joana Meier’s paper on the persistence of polymorphisms across species radiations is on the front cover of the September issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution. The cover image provides a specific example of the trans-species polymorphisms that the paper explores. Here, a polymorphism in shell chirality that recurs across multiple species of Amphidromus snails . Photos by Menno & Jan Schilthuizen. You can read the full article here: https://tinyurl.com/ycgdw4lu

read more