The study of tropical diseases is by its very nature international. Areas that are endemic for various tropical diseases often widely circumscribe the globe, and they also stray afield to more temperate climes when they take up residence in some of the millions of visitors to the tropics or in those from the tropics who immigrate or visit other regions of the world. Regardless of how one looks at these diseases, almost all of the research and education within the CTEGD inherently involves at least thinking about international aspects of biomedical and public health issues. In regard to the programs of several of those in the Center, it involves a great deal more. Much more. This is because the Center has a number of internationally based research projects that combine investigations at the University of Georgia with on-site studies in places like Argentina, Kenya, Colombia, Peru, Haiti, Guyana and Brazil.
|Chagas disease is endemic throughout much of Mexico, Central America, and South America. The triatomine bug, which spreads the disease, thrives in poor housing conditions.|
In addition to individual research programs, CTEGD is the home of the Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation (SCORE). SCORE's research will answer strategic questions related to the control and eliminatioin of schistosomiasis.
A part of the NIH-sponsored Tropical Disease Research Unit in the Tarleton lab is a project to study immune responses of patients in Argentina to potential Trypanosoma cruzi vaccine or diagnostic candidates and to attempt to correlate immunity with disease severity in patients with Chagas disease.
Dr. Moore's laboratory is funded by the NIH to study the basic biology and immunology of placental malaria in Kenya, where it is a major predisposing factor to low-birth weight and contributor to vertical transmission of HIV-1 infection to newborns.
Dr. Colley's research program, also in Kenya, is determining the immune responses and genetic characteristics of people who are occupationally at high risk to develop schistosomiasis. The goal of the research is to discover which immune mechanisms might be best to induce with vacine candidates.
Dr. Lammie is actively pursuing the elimination of lymphatic filariasis from Haiti, Guyana, American Samoa, and Brazil, while also studying the basic immunobiology of the host/parasite interactions in this chronic worm infection. The latter studies are trying to better understand the mechnaisms that lead to severe morbidity in lymphatic falariasis.
Dr. Kissinger has a training grant with the FIOCRUZ in Brazil. It is focused on training students and postdoctoral fellows in bioinformatics through developing a comprehensive database of the genome and proteome of Schistosoma mansoni.
Also, the CTEGD has a training grant from the Ellison Medical Foundation to provide opportunities for students and post-docs to pursue research as part of these overseas programs., and to bring trainees from our collaborator's laboratories to CTEGD's laboratories at UGA
In addition to these full-fledged research collaborations with investigators in universities and research institutes around the globe, members of the CTEGD also have a web of international connections that often involve the exchange of students and research materials. For example, there are ongoing programs between Center members and the University of Ghana, the National Museums of Kenya, the Fatala Chaben Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Universidad de Valle in Guatemala City, the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bamako, Mali, the Federal University of Penambuco in Recife, Brazil and the Centro de Pesquisas, Rene Rachou/FIOCRUZ in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
These types of interactions are integral to the concept and work of the CTEGD. As the Center continues to grow and develop, it will also continue to expand and extend these types of international collaborations and on-site research programs. We also anticipate more fully developing the opportunities for CTEGD-related trainees to participate in overseas research experiences that will be an integrated part of their training. This has already begun, with the Ellison Medical Foundation grant mentioned above, and we look forward to expanding these opportunities.