Society is pleased to announce the keynote speaker for the 2013 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. along with plenary speakers.
Peter Piot, PhD, FRCP, FMedSci, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a professor of global health, will deliver the opening address at the 62nd
Annual Meeting (Nov. 13 - 17).
Piot was the founding executive director of UNAIDS and under secretary-general of the United Nations
from 1995 until 2008, and was an associate director of the Global
Programme on AIDS of WHO. Piot has a medical degree from the University
of Ghent (1974), and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of
Antwerp (1980). He is credited with co-discovering the Ebola virus while
working at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, in
1976. Previously, Piot was a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation and was the 2009/2010 "knowledge against poverty" chair at
the College de France in Paris. Read his full bio here.
In addition, Nick Day, FMedSci,
FRCP, director of the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok,
will deliver the Commemorative Fund Lecture at the Annual Meeting.
O. Richards, MD; director, River Blindness Program, Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program, Schistosomiasis Control Program, and Malaria Control Program of The Carter Center, has accepted the invitation to deliver the Soper Lecture.
Annual Meeting 2013
A. Roxana Lescano and the ASTMH Peru team at NAMRU-6 in Peru
submitted the following summary, highlighting this inaugural effort.
Writing a scientific abstract is no easy task, and certainly one that
is not reinforced enough during the professional education. Many rising
scientists face hardships in trying to be concise, focused and in
meeting with the conference guidelines, while at the same time, ensuring
that their abstracts shows good science.
With this in mind, NAMRU-6 offered an Abstract Writing Workshop in
response to comments made during ASTMH Peru asking for scientific
guidance on how to put together abstracts for the upcoming ASTMH
Conference to be held in Washington DC in November 2013.
[Read more →]
Activity & Partners
ASTMH members are the best and the brightest in their field. Our member interviews highlight our diverse and growing membership. To read other member profiles, click here.
With the selection of this year's Kean Fellows slated to be announced next month, we spoke with Kean Fellowship Committee Chair Chandy John. A 2011 recipient of the Bailey K. Ashford Medal, John joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2005, where he established the Division of Global Pediatrics, the first division of pediatrics devoted to global child health in the United States. John’s research focuses on malaria epidemiology and immunology and the interactions between infection, nutrition and child neurodevelopment. An excerpt of the full interview appears below.
1. You’ve been an ASTMH member for well over 10 years (thank you). What continues to draw you to the Society?
The emphasis on collaborative work and serving the global poor really resonates with me. I find the research, education and clinical work done by ASTMH members fascinating. And I love the enthusiasm of ASTMH members for their work, and their general friendly and collaborative nature.
2. As the Chair of the Kean Fellowship Committee, you oversee the selection of some of North America’s brightest medical students for this prestigious program. What are the highlights of your work with the Kean Fellowship?
The biggest highlight is meeting with the students and their clinical and research projects. I think we all feel that the future of global health and tropical medicine is in great hands with students like the Kean fellows. They are so bright, smart and committed that they inspire all of us on the committee. I also enjoy working with the committee – it’s a fun group, and we put a lot of time and thought into the work of selecting Kean fellows.
3. What lessons have you personally or professionally learned from these young Kean Fellows?
Above all, their enthusiasm and passion for work in global health is inspiring. It makes me want to be a better global health researcher, educator and clinician. They are also really thoughtful and creative about how they design, fund and implement projects. Their perspectives help me think about new ways my collaborators and I could approach problems we’re studying.
4. Aiding the professional development of students and trainees is one of the Society’s top priorities. As a clinician educator who is not too far out from your training days, what can the Society do to better serve the needs of the next generation of tropical medicine physicians?
The Kean fellowships, very inexpensive student membership fees and low registration fee for the Annual Meeting are a good start. More travel awards would always be welcome because the learning experience of the Annual Meeting is tremendous, and once a student or resident or fellow has come to ASTMH, they’ll want to come back.
We’ve done a fair amount at the Annual Meeting to improve offerings in the area of career guidance by highlighting different pathways and opportunities for work in tropical medicine and global health – but we need to do more. Global health and tropical medicine are such a great interest of students now, and we need to help them figure out how they can make a career of this very rewarding work.
5. Last month, we observed World Malaria Day to focus attention on this disease, which continues to be among the top three killers of children in Africa. Given your background in pediatrics and malaria, what were you thinking about on World Malaria Day?
I was thinking about how remarkable it is that there IS a World Malaria Day. I got into malaria work because I saw kids dying of malaria in Bangladesh, Nigeria and Laos as a medical student and resident, and yet there were very few people doing malaria research in the United States at the time, particularly in my area of training (pediatrics). That has really changed, and it’s not just physicians, but increasingly the average person understands the importance of bed nets and the need for malaria vaccines. That is a huge move forward, and I think that increased awareness has contributed to the support of malaria research and public health efforts, which over the past two decades have been very successful.
6. How does tropical medicine in the classic sense fit in with today’s non-scientists’ understanding of global health?
That is a complex question because it depends on how you define global health and tropical medicine. The shortest answer I can think of is that “classic” tropical medicine, involving diseases like malaria, helminth infections, arboviruses, is still a major component of global health. We have broadened the focus of global health to include chronic and non-communicable diseases, and that’s an important thing to do, but we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking the “old” tropical diseases have disappeared. Unfortunately, they haven’t, but we’re making significant progress in the effort to decrease or eliminate them – and will keep making progress if people remain aware that these are still serious health problems for people in low and middle income countries.
ASTMH members are the best and the brightest in their field. Our member interviews highlight our diverse and growing membership. To read other member profiles, click here.
This month, we chat with ASTMH Member Bobbi Pritt, Associate Professor of Pathology and Director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. A specialist in pathology and medical microbiology, she has presented and published on many topics in clinical microbiology and has special interests in clinical parasitology, trainee education, molecular detection of infectious diseases, and infectious disease pathology. Pritt, who holds a Master’s degree in Medical Parasitology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the Royal College of Physicians, is the creator of the impressive parasitology blog, "Creepy Dreadful Wonderful Parasites." Each week, Pritt offers a new case on the blog, posting the answer the following week. She recently posted her 250th case.
What inspired you to start the “Creepy Dreadful Wonderful Parasites” blog?
I started the blog in 2007 as a simple educational tool for my
colleagues. I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to study
parasitology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. As a
result, I wanted to share the photographs I was beginning to compile
with colleagues back at Mayo Clinic. I started by sending a weekly
email to about 20 people when I posted a new case. Many of my
classmates in London also asked to be added to my emails, and soon their
friends and colleagues asked. My distribution slowly list grew by word
of mouth. To my surprise and delight, I now have an international
audience and the blog receives over 10,000 hits each month!
What do you like about maintaining the blog?
My favorite is hearing from my readers. I have now made several
connections with colleagues who routinely send me cases, share stories,
and comment on my weekly posts. I have a reader who composes a poem
each week to go with my new case. There are others who drop to refresh
their memory on parasitology or use the cases to prepare for boards
I especially enjoy hearing that I have contributed to the education of
others. For example, I recently learned that a colleague sits down with
her residents each week and together they go over the new case.
Have there been any unique or unexpected interactions as a result of your blogging?
Yes, for example, while attending the ASTMH Annual Meeting last year,
I mentioned on my blog that I would welcome the chance to meet up with
any of my readers at the meeting. I had 5 people immediately take me
up on that offer.
I have also received some amazing cases from viewers around the
world. One of my favorites is from a physician in India who sent me a
case of fasciolopsiasis, including a video from the colonoscopy (not for
the faint of heart). See here.
Although I am fortunate to see many fascinating and rare cases in my
daily practice, my content has become much richer through the
contributions of my audience.
What advice do you have for other aspiring tropical medicine bloggers?
Find a topic that inspires you, decide on a delivery format (e.g.,
weekly or monthly cases, commentaries, interviews), and make sure you
have the material and motivation to keep the blog going over time. When I
first considered this, I knew I wouldn’t have the time (or the
interest) to write lengthy dissertations. Therefore, I chose the short
photo-quiz format, allowing me to share photos without spending a lot
of time on writing.
Consider your audience. I knew that busy physicians and health
workers wouldn’t have the time to read lengthy case descriptions and
interpret numerous lab values. Therefore, I keep my cases and
discussions short and my readers often comment that they can view the
cases without slowing down their day.
Have fun. For example, whenever I get interesting or funny comments
from my readers, I try to use them. I also like to ‘dress my parasites
up’ for the holidays (see here) and include videos.
You’ve been a member of ASTMH for just a few years (thank you, we hope for many more). When that dues renewal notice comes, what makes you say, "Yes, I will renew"?
For me, it’s the opportunity to participate in the largest and most influential tropical medicine community in the U.S. and interact with member colleagues on the ASTMH listserv. My blog readership has expanded greatly due to the fact that my updates are now posted on the clinical listserv (thank you!) I always attend the ASTMH Annual Meeting, where I keep up with friends, refresh my tropical medicine knowledge, and attend the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Alumni meeting.
ASTMH has a deep interest in supporting our early-career colleagues. How can the Society build on its current efforts to help students and trainees manage this challenging career climate?
The Annual Meeting and member-only clinical listserv are excellent sources of information and provide numerous opportunities for collaboration and networking. I would recommend expanding on these existing avenues to reach early-career colleagues.
The Mayo Clinic may not be the first place one associates with tropical medicine research. What do you think every-day Americans should know about global health research at Mayo?
We see patients from within the United States but also from countries around the world, including regions in the tropics and subtropics. We also have an international reference laboratory which receives thousands of specimens daily from around the world. As a result, our infectious diseases team sees many challenging and complex cases in the clinic and we regularly see many ‘tropical’ infectious agents in my laboratory. For example, we see several cases of malaria every week.
This breadth of material provides me with unique opportunities for research and test development. For example, we have recently expanded our real time PCR test for malaria so that it can detect Plasmodium knowlesi, in addition to the 4 more common species that infect humans. We are also able to offer a full parasitology testing menu, including tests that are not normally found in smaller parasitology labs, such as the Knott’s concentration method for microfilariae and culture for Leishmania and Strongyloides. This range of testing is invaluable not only for our international patients, but also for Americans who have travelled abroad and are now presenting with signs and symptoms of a tropical infection.
Finally, we have a significant global health program that sends teams of physicians and allied health care staff to countries in South America and Africa to provide clinical and laboratory services. Our goal is to train the local physicians and health care workers so that they can be self-sufficient in providing the necessary care to their patients. I recently sent my lead technologist to Haiti as a member of one of these teams so that she could teach the local physicians to make and read malaria smears.
The shockwave of cuts to federal funding for research, including tropical medicine/global health are being felt everywhere. What real life effects will cuts to research funding have on you or other colleagues at Mayo?
Fortunately, I have not been significantly impacted by these cuts at this point since my research is closely linked to patient care. For example, I will continue to seek out better diagnostics for tropical diseases in my laboratory, and am now exploring the use of mass spectrometry for malaria diagnosis. The economic crunch has definitely highlighted the importance of cost effective medicine, however. I am currently working with my clinical colleagues to optimize use of multiple parasitology tests such as the vastly over-ordered “ova and parasite” exam.
This morning, ASTMH hosted a Google+ Hangout with Ethan Perlstein, an evolutionary pharmacologist, who used a website to raise more than $25,000 for scientific research. This approach is often called, "crowdfunding," and Perlstein's success with it has been covered in various media outlets, including NPR and The Economist.
In the discussion, moderated by ASTMH Executive Director Karen Goraleski, Perlstein discusses how he raised the money, why he decided to use his chosen platform and what he wished he'd known before he got started. Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, FASTMH, FAAP, ASTMH past president and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, weighed in with some interesting questions from a tropical medicine perspective.
Watch it here.
ASTMH members are the best and the brightest in their field. Our
member profiles highlight our diverse and growing membership. To read
other member profiles, click here.
Ahead of World Water Day later this month, we talked to one of the Society's waterborne disease experts, Stephen Luby, MD. Before moving to Stanford in 2012, Stephen directed the Centre for Communicable Diseases at icddr,b and served as the Bangladesh Country Director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2004 – 2012. He also taught at the Aga
Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan, and worked as an epidemiologist in both the
Malaria and Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch of the CDC. He attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and is the author of more than 200 scientific articles -- most on the topics of communicable disease epidemiology and prevention in low-income
1. World Water Day – coming up on March 22 – is an opportunity to
bring awareness to the important cause of clean water. What will you be
thinking about this World Water Day?
Among health professionals the contribution of water to community
health is generally thought of as providing sufficient quantity and
quality of water to meet basic household consumption and hygiene needs.
However, this overly narrow conceptualization restricts the productive
contribution of health professionals to discussions within this critical
area. 70% of all water use by people is committed to agriculture.
Human population continues to grow, but this growing population is being
fed on crops that are watered from nonsustainable abstraction of
groundwater. The falling groundwater levels threaten humanity's ability
to feed itself and this risk is even greater than the risk of
insufficient household water for domestic use. On this world water day, I
hope that members of ASTMH, can reflect more broadly on the
hydrological imbalance of current practices and become active
participants in multi-sector discussion on ensuring water security in
high need areas for the coming decades.
2. Before accepting a prestigious position at Stanford University last year, you were CDC’s Bangladesh Country Director for eight years. Given your position with the CDC, what is your reaction to the ongoing budget challenges in Washington for the agency?
The U.S. Congress and the president face difficult choices in striving to align government spending with available resources. With the aging population, the growing cost of Medicare, and the size of the national debt, the long term fiscal health of the country will depend on limiting federal outlays to be more in line with resources.
Nevertheless, CDC provides an incredibly cost-effective service to the U.S. taxpayers. It provides evidence-based guidance on health issues ranging from individual decision-making for U.S. citizens to policy decisions for local institutions, municipal, states national and even international bodies. Internationally, CDC contributes importantly to health diplomacy. By providing technical support to foreign countries and improving health in the local populations, the U.S. government improves its relationship with other nations.
The growing interconnectedness of populations also means that CDC's work on surveillance and response not only improves the lives and health of people living in foreign countries where CDC is working, but these efforts protect Americans and people living throughout the world.
If CDC and ASTMH are to remain influential in global public health, the long-term fiscal situation in the U.S. requires that we redouble our efforts to develop cost-effective interventions.
3. You also spent five years in Pakistan leading the Epidemiology Unit of the Community Health Sciences Department at the Aga Khan University working on water and sanitation in addition to other issues. What are some of the WASH-related accomplishments you’re most proud of from your time abroad?
I am most proud of developing constructive collaborative relationships with colleagues in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Guatemala and working to improve our joint capacity to conduct research to improve public health. Through these collaborations we have been able to generate evidence addressing questions that remain relevant to low income communities including the benefits to both health and child development of handwashing with soap even in settings of widespread poverty and fecal contamination. Working together, we have made progress towards developing strategies that encourage the adoption of handwashing habits that are practical, scalable and effective.
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Proposed budget cuts to U.S. research and
development programs could have a devastating impact on global
health research in particular. Specifically, current efforts to develop
new tuberculosis drugs, the world's first malaria vaccine, and other
vital global health products in development are among the projects that could be in
jeopardy, according to a new report from the Global Health Technologies
Coalition (GHTC), of which ASTMH is a member.
To launch the report and signal the start of "Global Health Week on the Hill," GHTC hosted a panel discussion on Capitol Hill, titled, "Renewing U.S. leadership: Policies to advance global health research."
Two of the three panelists had ASTMH affiliations. Dr. Lee Hall, chief of the Parasitology and International Programs Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
is a member of the Society, and Dr. Alan Magill, director of Malaria at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is ASTMH's President-Elect.
The full GHTC report is available for review here. GHTC's Breakthroughs blog also provides a useful summary of findings.
Images via our Instagram account
Top right: ASTMH exhibit table at the event; Below: Alan Magill and Lee Hall stand in front of a banner for the event in the Kennedy Caucus Room
Activity & Partners
ASTMH members are the best and the brightest in their field. Our member profiles highlight our diverse and growing membership. To read other member profiles, click here.
This month, we spoke with Gissella M. Vasquez, PhD. In addition to her position at NAMRU-6, Vasquez is a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. One of her goals is to promote capacity building efforts in medical entomology and insect chemical ecology in her home-country, Peru. When she is not in the lab, Vasquez enjoys travelling and has a great appreciation for regional cuisine and learning where food comes from.
1. You became an ASTMH member last year, what drew you to the Society?
Colleagues in the US and Peru highly recommended joining ASTMH and I am glad I followed their advice. Being a member of this professional society has afforded me the opportunity to keep current with scientific advances in tropical medicine, specifically the area of medical entomology. It has also helped me to expand my professional connections and identify collaborators from among the ASTMH community.
Opportunities for professional advancement and networking with well-established and young scientists are available through the Society, especially at the Annual Meeting. This is an excellent place to showcase your research and meet people with different professional backgrounds. I attended the Annual Meeting for the first time last year; it was one of the best meetings I have attended and the best place to interact with outstanding medical entomologists thanks to ACME.
2. At last year’s meeting in Atlanta, you presented in two Poster Sessions. What was that experience like?
Presenting our work on mosquitoes and sand flies from the Peruvian Amazon was exciting and a wonderful opportunity to interact with colleagues from different parts of the world. Most researchers I spoke with were amazed to learn about the diversity of mosquitoes and sand flies in Peru. Our research showed that more work is needed to understand malaria, arbovirosis and leishmania transmission in our region. Our research also drew the attention of colleagues from neighboring countries and researchers from U.S. universities expressing interest in collaborations.
Unlike other well attended scientific meetings, I think that the ASTMH Annual Meeting offers a researcher the unique opportunity to reach colleagues that share similar research interests and a common goal: develop mitigation strategies against infectious diseases.
3. What research questions are you excited to pursue?
I am interested in insect vector behavior and ecology and vector/pathogen interactions. Effective vector surveillance and control tools require a good understanding of vector behavior and ecology.
This year we will conduct studies in collaboration with [ASTMH member] Dr. Erica Lindroth and Dr. George Peck, entomologists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to evaluate promising general attractants and repellents for Anopheles darlingi, an important malaria vector in the Peruvian Amazon.
I am also interested in developing and examining control approaches based on vector attraction to host odors, breeding/oviposition site volatiles, and sex pheromones. We plan to characterize the pheromone of a leishmaniasis and bartonellosis vector in the Peruvian Andes, Lutzomyia verrucarum, in collaboration with Dr. Eric Cosio from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru. I am working with ASTMH Council member Dan Bausch, MD, MPH&TM, on habitat perturbation impacts on insect vectors in the southern Peruvian Amazon and with Dr. Willy Lescano on malaria and leishmania vector incrimination and vector role in disease transmission. Additional collaborations include studies on dengue vector control and ecology with ASTMH members Amy Morrison, PhD, MSPH, from NAMRU-6, and Tom Scott, BS, MS, PhD, from UC Davis. We’ve also worked with Dr. Fred Gould from NC State University.
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The following obituary was submitted by Peter's son, Philip.
Peter Beales, MBChB, DTM&H, MD, FFPH, died peacefully
from acute myeloid leukaemia on January 3, 2013 in London. He was 77 years old. He is survived by his wife Noy, two
children and four grandaughters. He devoted his life to improving the health in
developing countries and will be remembered as a highly experienced, strong and
resourceful leader in the fight against malaria and tropical diseases.
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Robert L. Rausch, a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine
and Hygiene for more than 35 years, died October 6, 2012, at his home on
Bainbridge Island, Wash. At the time, Rausch was an Emeritus Professor
in the Department of Comparative Medicine in the School of Medicine at
the University of Washington.
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