Featured Events

Research Day on Global Health and Infectious Disease, October 2009

Vice Provost Peggy Newell and Dean Michael Rosenblatt 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 needs 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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Developing Medical Devices

Nina Green, director of the Office for Technology Licensing and Industry Collaboration (OTLIC), welcomed attendees to the fall 2009 seminar on medical device development (held November 10). The purpose of the seminar was to introduce the Tufts community to commercial and regulatory issues associated with developing medical devices, as well as to showcase device research at Tufts and Tufts-affiliated hospitals. The afternoon consisted of speaker presentations followed by a reception and poster presentation.

Gary Freeman, vice president of clinical affairs and technology at ZOLL Medical Corporation, provided a large-company perspective and insights from his two decades of involvement in developing resuscitation technologies. He mentioned that the FDA approval process for medical devices was currently undergoing change and that interested parties should check the FDA website frequently. Freeman said that randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the bottleneck in the approval process, and that while RCTs remain the gold standard for drug testing, medical device testing needs more flexibility in trial design.

Paul Hartung, president and chief executive officer of Neuroptix Corporation, provided attendees with insights on funding a company with venture capital. Hartung has extensive experience in the laser and medical device industries, and the Neuroptix Corporation is working on predictive diagnostics for Alzheimer’s disease. Hartung received his MS in mechanical engineering from MIT, and he remarked that fellow alumni can be wonderful resources for advice and support during the development of a medical device.

Adam Wolfberg, an attending physician at Tufts Medical Center and an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine, gave insights from his position as an academic entrepreneur. Wolfberg is co-founder of MindChild Medical, a startup company based on a noninvasive fetal heart monitor. He recommended that potential inventors reach out to colleagues and others with experience that complement their own, and collaborate with them.

A comprehensive overview of medical device regulation was also presented. The importance of following the approved clinical trial protocol precisely, as well as good clinical practices (GCP), was emphasized.

The Office for Technology Licensing and Industry Collaboration has noted that, since the seminar was presented, there has been an increase in the number of researchers coming to the office to discuss medical device development, as well as an increase in the number of invention disclosures in general.

For more information on medical device development, please go to http://techtransfer.tufts.edu.

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Tufts Presidential Symposium on Community-Engaged Research

The Tufts Presidential Symposium on Community-Engaged Research was held in February 2010. The event was co-hosted by the Office of the President, the Office of Community Relations, Tufts Community Research Center, and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. The symposium provided an opportunity for faculty, students, and community partners to share their experiences with regard to research—the benefits, the challenges, the outcomes.

Benefits of community-engaged research that were brought up at the roundtable discussions included increased impact for community partners, validation of research results for faculty researchers, and real world experiences for students. Challenges mentioned included reconciling different expectations on the timing and pace of research, and building and maintaining structures to facilitate ongoing research.

Tufts resources for community-engaged research include:

  • "Partnering with Communities: A Guide to Getting Involved with Tufts Partner Communities" provides profiles of Tufts partner communities and resources to support mutually beneficial relationships (http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/downloads/PartneringwithCommunitiesMarch2006V4.pdf).

  • The Community Outreach Portal is a centralized portal providing a searchable listing of Tufts programs that work in host communities (http://outreach.tufts.edu).

  • "Advancing Student Engagement in Communities: A Tool Kit for Effective Orientation and Evaluation" is a Wiki Tool Kit for community co-educators, faculty, staff and students to use in developing and evaluating community-university partnerships (http://tuftstoolkit.pbworks.com).

For more information, please go to:

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