Infectious Insights Blog

Observe World Leprosy Day for a Different Reason

Despite the successes of multidrug therapy for improved treatment of patients and the advancement of chemoprophylactic regimen to contain infection in earlier stages within asymptomatic infected individuals, transmission of M. leprae – the bacterium that causes leprosy - continues and prevention remains beyond current reach. Accordingly, large numbers of new cases of leprosy emerge every year and the need to observe World Leprosy Day – this year on Jan. 27 -- throughout the world remains. While the physical effects of leprosy are well documented, as well as the stigma associated with the disease, a new report from ILEP shows that up to 50% of people affected by leprosy will face mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. The need for a vaccine to prevent and/or treat this devastating disease is greater than ever. Through funding and partnership with leprosy focused organizations such as American Leprosy Missions, Damien Foundation, German Leprosy [...]

January 25th, 2019| |

Need a Gift for Your Favorite Geek?

Yikes! The holiday season is upon us and so is the pressure to find that perfect gift for the geek on your list. Once again, IDRI scientists have stepped into the fray to help fill your list with great suggestions. Linda Hawkins says, “For the scientist who periodically gets cold and is seeking protection from the elements, a periodic table blanket beats all other precious metal and electron-ic gifts.” All puns appreciated! Jennifer Geist suggests a SnoValley culinary mushroom grow kit. “I received this as a present and it was so cool! I could see kids loving this as a fun in-home experiment.” According to Jenny, you can find these kits at all the Seattle farmers markets. “The mushroom “brick” (which is a specific organic mix with spores) comes in a plastic bag, and you can get shiitake or king oyster mushroom kits for $10. "All you do is open [...]

December 10th, 2018| |

Pioneering Women Offer Great Reads

The global health community in Washington state is filled with women who serve in all sorts of roles – from leading companies to leading labs to leading the administrative services that support research. There is a particular group of women, the Pioneering Women, who have been brought together by the Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA), and I'm proud to be a charter member of this inspiring group. We drink wine, discuss our work and support the next generation of women in global health and life sciences.  And every year, at WGHA’s annual event, we put together an auction item that features wine and books. Each bottle of wine and book come with a handwritten note about why it was handpicked by the donor. This year’s the book selection was interesting and eclectic – so much so that there were requests for the list of books. In the spirit of finding a [...]

November 21st, 2018| |

Merck Fellows Help IDRI Learn New Skills

I am sitting in Heathrow airport waiting for my next flight to Cape Town (another work trip). The last time I made the journey to South Africa, I was on my way to meet three fellows joining us from Merck and bring them home to IDRI. That was three months ago and their time with us has now ended, but it seems like an appropriate point to reflect on their achievements. The MSD Fellowship for Global Health places experienced scientists from Merck with NGOs and non-profits for three months to transfer skills and use their talents to contribute to global health. This co-hort of Merck Fellows marks our fourth at IDRI. Our aims were to develop new capabilities for our group in drug discovery, adding some key skills in DMPK (drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics) to complement our existing medicinal chemistry and disease biology programs. We had three talented and dedicated [...]

October 30th, 2018| |

TB Vaccine Success Underscores Need to Continue Development

Scientists at IDRI played an early role in a new TB vaccine, developed by GSK,  that showed promising results in a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The patent application for the vaccine lists our own Rhea Coler and Steve Reed as inventors. The positive results published in the NEJM open the door for new TB vaccines that may have a similar or better efficacy. I'm incredibly excited by this demonstration of the first successful TB vaccine in nearly 100 years, but I hope the enthusiasm for this one vaccine doesn't overshadow the need for the arsenal of vaccines that it will take to bring TB under control. While GSK's vaccine demonstrated an overall efficacy of 54 percent, a related editorial to the NEJM publication poses the question of whether efficacy could be improved by including additional antigens in the vaccine, and also states the adjuvant component may be [...]

September 27th, 2018| |
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