Infectious Insights Blog

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| |

Reporting on Another “L” Disease

When I write, it's often about leprosy, but there's another "L" disease that deserves attention: leishmaniaisis, caused by the bite of a sandfly. Like leprosy, it's categorized by the World Health Organization as a neglected tropical disease or NTD. Together, the NTDs affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year. I was recently invited to attend the “5th Post Kala Azar Leishmaniasis (PKDL) Consortium Meeting” in Colombo, Sri Lanka. A relatively small panel of scientists, control personnel and policy makers came together to discuss PKDL, a sequelae of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) on the Indian subcontinent and east Africa. A primary motivator for the discussions was the dichotomy that is currently occurring in the relationship between VL and PKDL; despite treatment advances and reduced case reports for VL control, PKDL is becoming relatively more common. We shared data with regard to how PKDL is detected [...]

June 13th, 2018| |

Time for Summer (Science) Reading!

With Memorial Day here, summer is just around the corner. It’s time to kick back, enjoy the sunbreaks and read! We polled IDRI to see what people are reading (and what they’d recommend) from the science perspective. Chris Fox recommends “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” By Siddhartha Mukherjee, which follows the disease from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago to the continued modern-day fight to find a cure. Chronicling Mao’s famous campaign against snail fever, “Farewell to the God of Plague: Chairman Mao’s Campaign to Deworm China” by Miriam Gross is “a bit dry” says Darrick Carter. But, he added it’s a good read about schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that IDRI is teaming up with collaborators to develop a vaccine against. Tanya Parish reports that she just started reading “Factfulness” by the late Hans Rosling, the man who made data and statistics come to life through [...]

May 22nd, 2018| |
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