Infectious Insights Blog

Leishmaniasis Coming Out of the Shadows

Every four years, representatives from across the world come together at World Leish, the World Congress on Leishmaniais. Last week approximately 1,500 delegates from over 70 countries converged upon Toledo, Spain for the 6th iteration of this international conference, which focuses on an age-old disease that is still common in certain countries. According to the World Health Organization, leishmaniasis affects some of the poorest people on earth and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing and a lack of financial resources. Against the backdrop of this beautiful historical city, updates on the progress and requirements still required to control the various presentations of this parasitic disease (actually many diseases caused by many parasites) were provided. The disease-centric nature of the conference provides a rare opportunity to hear the different “language” of lab scientists, social scientists, field workers, veterinarians, clinicians, students and policy makers from across the world come together in [...]

May 31st, 2017| |

Dutch Lottery Helps Leprosy Patients in Indonesia

Learning about the leprosy project. Who says no long-term good comes out of winning a lottery? In fact, with funding from the Dutch lottery the Netherlands Leprosy Relief organization, now has a project underway in Indonesia to help those who may be touched by leprosy. Why Indonesia? Along with Brazil and India, it has one of the world’s largest burdens of leprosy. These three countries account for 81 percent of the newly diagnosed and reported cases of leprosy globally. I recently spent time in Indonesia as part of this project, which is called PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) ++, that also involves partnering with the University of Airlangga, the second oldest university in Indonesia. IDRI's leprosy test in use. The goal of the project is to identify leprosy patients and then screen their family and neighborhood contacts so that we can stop Mycobacterium leprae (the bacterium [...]

April 11th, 2017| |

Celebrating Female Scientists Who Inspire Us

Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day and this year saw the launch of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Feb. 11). Also, this year saw multiple Oscar nominations for Hidden Figures, which celebrates the previously unrecognized contribution of African-American women to NASA’s space missions. In this vein, we decided to celebrate the role that women have played in science and its key discoveries, so we asked a group of our own female scientists for their inspirational scientists – here are their votes. I’ll start … OK, so I cheated a little bit and picked two. Firstly, Marie Curie, an incredible scientist who spanned both chemistry and physics and won two Nobel Prizes. She won the prize in physics for her research on radiation and subsequently the prize in chemistry for the discovery of radium and polonium – the only person to have won in two sciences. [...]

March 8th, 2017| |

An Orwellian Dystopia and a Terrible Disease

Recent events have led to a large increase in the sales (and possibly reading) of "1984" by George Orwell with his highly charged description of a dystopia set in the future. Orwell wrote a number of books that have remained powerful and relevant, including his most famous - "Animal Farm." But Orwell wrote a large number of books and essays – and it is one of his other books that left a lasting impression on me. In “Down and Out in Paris and London,” Orwell presented a memoir of his life in poverty in both cities. The book provided an insight into the struggles faced by many to survive in the face of limited means and opportunities. His description of casual employment in the hotel trade in Paris, and life on the road as a “tramp” in England are vivid and insightful. This recommended reading provides an insight into poverty and [...]

February 3rd, 2017| |

Leprosy: Final Steps Remain

The road to visit leprosy patients in the Philippines can be arduous. As the last Sunday of the first month of 2017 arrives, World Leprosy Day serves as a reminder that this ‘ancient’ disease still exists. By the conventional measurements used by global health experts and policy makers, leprosy is now statistically much less of a burden. Indeed, in my lifetime, massive advances have been made to ‘eliminate’ leprosy with approximately 200,000 new cases diagnosed and reported each year. Thankfully the advanced cases that once used to be common are now seen much less regularly. Using IDRI's leprosy diagnostic, a person can be tested at home, even in a remote area. Elimination has not yet been achieved, however, and a great many people are still affected by this disease. I remain extremely privileged to have active and productive collaborations all over the world sharing in [...]

January 28th, 2017| |
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