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Spring 2010, Issue 11

Research Day on Global Health and Infectious Disease, October 2009

Vice Provost Peggy Newell and Michael Rosenblatt, medical school dean at the time, welcomed attendees and introduced Joyce Sackey, MD, the newly appointed dean for multicultural affairs and global health at Tufts University School of Medicine. Guest speaker Gerald Keusch, MD, discussed the future of global health. Dr. Keusch is Special Assistant to the University President for Global Health at Boston University and is an associate director of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories at BU. His research interests include the pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of tropical infectious diseases, as well as emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Keusch began with an overview of the evolution of global health, from work in the 1970s on the pathogenesis of the great neglected diseases of the third world, to the 1980s, when the Rockefeller Foundation and the Fogarty International Center at the NIH supported training programs for developing-country scientists, to the 1990s, when national research agencies worked together through the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria, and then on to the current emphasis on partnerships with developing countries to apply what we have learned. Using infectious diseases as an example, Keusch emphasized that the future of global health needed a coordinated system of sustainable global surveillance, research, and response to emerging diseases. With the New England Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases (Harvard University), the New England Regional Biosafety Laboratory (Tufts University), and the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (Boston University), Boston is uniquely qualified to lead the way to this necessary collaboration and cooperation.

Ten-minute lightning talks gave the audience a perspective on the state of research on global health and infectious disease at Tufts. Topics included:

  • Food poisoning caused by Shiga toxin–producing E. coli
  • Edible food sensors made of silk that change color when a pathogen is present
  • Continuous-flow centrifugation to quickly identify pathogens in large volumes of water
  • Cholera outbreaks predicted by tracking ocean plankton from space
  • Probiotics ("good" gut bacteria) to control both "bad" gut bacteria and antibiotic resistance
  • A "good worm"—a helminth that appears to work with the body’s immune system to limit intestinal autoimmune disease
  • A measles vaccine that needs no refrigeration

Attendees were invited to explore Tufts research on global health and infectious disease during poster presentations at the end of the day.

For more information, including a complete program, information about the speakers, and poster abstracts, please go to http://www.tufts.edu/central/research/researchdays/RD7.

 

 

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