ANU community raises $85,000 to help prevent konzo

1 November 2016

A record number of 805 donors consisting of students, staff, alumni and friends, made a gift to the ANU Giving Day appeal raising over $85,000 to help prevent the disease konzo.

Konzo is a neurological disease that causes irreversible paralysis of the legs, often in women and young children. It's caused by malnutrition and consumption of high levels of a cyanide compound found in the cassava plant - which happens to be a common staple food in tropical Africa.

Emeritus Fellow Dr Howard Bradbury has spent 56 years at ANU and since 1988, has focused his research on cassava and the disease konzo. In 2005 he discovered the 'wetting method' that removes the poisonous cyanide compound from cassava flour.

"I think I've had a wonderful career and, amazingly, this particular project has been a retirement project. Right at the end of my career I've had this wonderful opportunity, by the grace of God, to be able to prevent a disease in Africa. It's something which I'd never thought would be possible" said Dr Bradbury.

"On behalf of the children and women of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I want to thank all those who made a gift to the konzo prevention fund."

Dr Colin Taylor, Director, Alumni Relations and Philanthropy said that ANU Giving Day shows the power of the community of students, staff, alumni and friends.

"Thanks to Dr Bradbury's research, there's now a simple and inexpensive method to prevent konzo. It was wonderful to see so many members of the ANU community come together to support ANU research that has a global impact."

Over 800 donors made a gift to the campaign. All funds raised will directly support educational programs run in partnership with the National Institute of Nutrition in DRC, to teach villagers Dr Bradbury's 'wetting method' which removes the poisonous cyanide compound from their food and prevents konzo from occurring.

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