February 21, 2014 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
Stephen L. Hoffman MD, DTMH, DSc. (hon), FASTMH, CAPT, MC, USN (Ret.), a former ASTMH president and active member of the Society, was profiled in a recent issues of Washingtonian. The piece highlights Hoffman's personal devotion to the development of an effective malaria vaccine:
Hoffman’s quest to annihilate the parasite has come at his own peril. He has trudged through Indonesian swamps and watched children with malaria die in his arms. He has injected experimental vaccines into his body and survived a plane crash during a research trip to Kenya. He once let more than 3,000 malaria-infected mosquitoes feast on his arm.
Read the full article here.
In the News
February 16, 2014 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
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.
The Society is now accepting applications for the prestigious Benjamin H. Kean Travel Fellowship in Tropical Medicine. With applications due March 12, we checked in with 2013 Kean Fellow Nina Salinger Prasanphanich who is in an MD/PhD program at Emory University School of Medicine. For her Kean Fellowship, Prasanphanich conducted an eight-week research project in Kisumu, Kenya, at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). A main goal of her project was to characterize patterns of anti-glycan antibodies in children infected with schistosomiasis. Prasanphanich updated a blog while she was doing research in Kenya.
1) What were some of the highlights of your Kean Fellowship?
I undertook an eight-week research project in Kisumu, Kenya, at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) for my Kean Fellowship experience. The main goals of my project were to characterize patterns of anti-glycan antibodies in children infected with schistosomiasis and to gain experience doing translational global health research.
Professionally, the best part was taking pride in a research project that I was able to see through from conception to preparation to completion (or as near completion as is ever possible in research!) I also really enjoyed sharing perspectives on science, religion, cultural differences and the struggles of graduate school with the Kenyan graduate student in our lab. My interactions with him, as well as some of the other staff and students at KEMRI, gave me a little insight into a completely different culture, one in which there is both great need and great generosity. Another highlight was when I got to visit some of the schools participating in our studies. The children are just amazing – so enthusiastic, energetic and really enthralled with foreigners.
Outside of the lab, I enjoyed spending time with the diverse group of global health-oriented ex-pats in Kisumu and seeing the amazingly varied landscapes and birds of Kenya.
2) Before you went to Kenya, you described what you expected to learn here. Did the experience differ significantly from what you anticipated?
The main areas in which I expected to learn and grow were how to become an effective researcher with limited time and resources, and in developing cross-cultural communication skills and cultural sensitivity. I think I achieved the first goal relatively well, and although not all aspects of the project went exactly as planned, I was able to prioritize getting at least the crucial parts done. I had to adjust to lab conditions that were somewhat different from what I was used to at home. I struggled with the challenge of minimizing variability from day to day, and the inherent variability in human samples. I think I learned that in doing this type of research, there is a balance between doing the absolute best quality science you can, and asking the most interesting question you can even if it means you have to do it without all of the perfect reagents or unlimited time. Data from human populations is incredibly precious, so even if the experimental methods aren’t perfect, as long as the data is presented fairly and honestly, it always has something to teach us.
In the second area of cross-cultural communication, I feel I learned a lot but also dealt with unexpected difficulties. There is still a lot of room for misunderstanding even when you’re in an English-speaking country. In general, Kenyans are incredibly friendly, warm and welcoming. I regularly received invitations to meet people’s families, go dancing or try Mom’s homemade ugali. Because I was in a foreign culture, it was hard for me to learn how to trust and who to trust, even though I wanted to take advantage of these opportunities. This was made especially difficult by a wave of crimes against ex-pats while I was there. There is such great need for things like school fees and and other basic needs, and it seemed like many people viewed a kind American as their saving grace. It was really upsetting to be constantly faced with this need and not be able to help everyone, and it made me think a lot about the difficulties of direct, personal charity versus anonymous, organized giving. But it also convinced me how important it is to find a way to make a meaningful contribution that you can be confident in and comfortable with.
3) How, if at all, has the Fellowship affected your career plans and/or professional interests?
Receiving this fellowship has been incredibly meaningful to me. I am involved in NTD research because I want to address research questions that have the potential to make the greatest impact on the health of the largest number of people possible, and because I find the interplay between host and pathogen fascinating and endlessly complex. This was my first opportunity to get involved in the more translational side of schistosomiasis research. I now have a heightened sense of how difficult it is to conduct research on human disease immunology and translate results into meaningful knowledge that can be applied to vaccine and diagnostic strategies. A great deal of persistence and innovation will be necessary to develop a vaccine against this complex parasite or otherwise achieve lasting control in problem areas.
The fellowship has made me even more passionate about pursuing NTD research, either domestically or overseas. In spite of the difficulties, I think this experience has greatly enriched my sense of how to figure out the right questions to ask, how to execute a research project from start to finish, and it has certainly broadened my cultural understanding and travel know-how. I hope to return to Kenya or other endemic countries to pursue research that could someday result in improving the lives of people threatened by schistosomiasis, and also for the opportunity contribute to global health as a physician.
4) What advice do you have for other medical students who would like to apply to be a Kean Fellow?
I advise all interested students to go for it! The application process is not too complicated, and the potential for personal & professional growth is huge. Find a really supportive sponsor and find people who have worked in your destination for tips on living arrangements and other travel advice. Also, while you are there, take advantage of the experiences that you can only get overseas, such as talking to locals about their perspectives and seeing patients with tropical diseases.
5) Now for the fun question. You get the opportunity to go back in time. You can either have a conversation with any scientist who has ever lived OR observe a moment of scientific history. What would you choose and why?
Hmm . . . I thought of a couple ways to answer this question, and I’m going to go with the nerdiest one. Many great events in scientific history didn’t happen in a moment. I would go back over evolutionary time to the point at which the common ancestor of baboons and macaques diverged, and collect samples of DNA as one became a schistosome-susceptible host and one became a resistant host. (I would need a long, long, moment.) I would analyze their immuno-genome and look for genes that might make a difference in their ability to protect from schistosome infection. You said I’m allowed to take samples, right?
February 16, 2014 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
ASTMH submitted the following statement for the hearing on “Examining Conference
and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government.”
Dear Senators Carper and Coburn:
On behalf of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and
Hygiene (ASTMH)—the principal professional membership
organization representing, educating, and supporting scientists,
physicians, clinicians, researchers, epidemiologists, and other
health professionals dedicated to the prevention and control of
tropical diseases and advancing global health—we are writing
today to express our deep concern over the government’s onesize-fits-all
[Read more →]
Activity & Partners
February 03, 2014 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
Rodney C. Jung, MD, PhD, a lifetime member of the Society, passed away on October 22, 2013. He was 93 years old. Jung, who served on ASTMH's editorial board, is remembered for his pioneering public health efforts in the city of New Orleans. Jung was a senior author of the textbook Clinical Parasitology, a classic source of tropical medicine information for generations of students and scientists. He is survived by his wife Carol Jung and brother Fredrick Jung.
An obituary at MyNewOrleans.com details Jung's varied contributions to the improvment of public health in New Orleans -- from his world-renowned mosquito control commission to the “Jung diapers” that are still worn by the mules in the French Quarter. "All the hats Dr. Rodney Jung wore at one time or another could fill a warehouse," Brobson Lutz, MD, writes of his late colleague. Lutz also noted Jung's outstanding and effective leadership in the area of sexually transmitted diseases:
Jung wasted no time organizing a more effective program to address syphilis and gonorrhea. He implemented expanded reporting, outreach and educational efforts. He initiated a testing and treatment program at Orleans Parish Prison. Dr. Frank Gomila, an underfunded venereologist, was directing the treatment of 70 to 80 patients a day in the city’s VD Clinic, a former two-story drugstore, which had only one bathroom and fire code violations dating back to 1958. The examination rooms were described as broom closets with hanging sheets taking the place of doors.
Within months Jung found a larger and more suitable space for the clinic. He personally drew plans for the new space to optimize patient flow. The new clinic opened to great fanfare with the police band playing and a prayer from Father Peter Rogers, the longtime police and fire chaplain.
All these efforts yielded quick dividends. After being No. 1 then No. 2 for syphilis, New Orleans fell to No. 6 and then plummeted to No. 17 under Jung’s strong and dynamic leadership.
Image courtesy of Carol Jung.
January 13, 2014 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
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.
The variety of tropical medicine topics addressed at the Annual
Meeting has broadened over the last few years to include other health
issues affecting the global poor. This month's Q&A is with two ASTMH members who are helping to expand that focus. At the 2013 Annual Meeting, John Humphrey, MD, a fellow in infectious disease at Cornell University Medical Center, and Connie Keung, MD, a general surgery resident at Columbia University Medical Center, organized the symposium, "Surgery for Non-Communicable and Tropical Disease: The Next Global Challenge."
1) At the 2013 Annual Meeting, the two of you helped organize a symposium about surgery in resource-limited environments. What does this say about the evolution of how we have historically viewed tropical medicine?
Tropical medicine is synonymous with infectious disease for many people. This is not without reason, as these diseases remain some of the greatest challenges to global public health today. Still, the global burden of disease is changing. Surgical conditions now account for 11% of the global burden of disease, yet the unmet need for surgical care in poor countries is immense: the poorest third of the world’s population receives only 3% of all surgical procedures. There is a misconception that surgery is neither cost-effective nor feasible in resource-limited settings. We endeavored to show otherwise through our symposium, and we hope that the ASTMH Annual Meeting can be a forum for addressing the challenge of global surgery. As one author put it, surgical diseases should not be left as the final neglected tropical disease.
2) Having attended two ASTMH Annual Meetings, you’re both relatively new to our Society (and we’re glad to have you a part of it). What other topics or issues would you like to see addressed at the Annual Meeting?
It’s great to be a part of the ASTMH! As young doctors interested in global health, we both find the Annual Meeting to be so exciting. Having the chance to meet with and be mentored by other ASTMH members is truly invaluable. As far as the Annual Meeting goes, it would be helpful to have more surgery and anesthesia-themed posters, lectures, and symposia. For example, much more research is needed to understand the epidemiology of surgical disease in low-income countries. The Annual Meeting is the perfect venue to address this need.
3) If you look into a crystal ball, what does the field of global health/tropical medicine look like 20 years from now?
From our perspective, the future looks bright for global health! The number of students and young physicians interested in the field seems to grow every year. Hopefully, down the road this will result in more voices both in government and society that are willing to advocate for the global poor. Indeed, the disease challenges globalization will create in the future will require even more global-minded leaders than we have today.
4) ASTMH serves a unique convening role that brings together people from many disciplines and backgrounds. Which additional groups should ASTMH engage as we look for innovative ways to address health issues affecting the global poor?
To start, the ASTMH needs to engage surgeons and anesthesiologists as part of its global health mission. This includes collaborating with surgical societies and surgical non-governmental organizations. Government-supported global health programs could also do much more surgical research and capacity building in low-income countries, and the ASTMH should advocate for this as well.
5) Here’s the fun question. You get the opportunity to go back in time. You can either have a conversation with any scientist who has ever lived OR observe a moment of scientific history. Who or what would you choose and why?
There are so many! In keeping with our theme though, one historical moment would certainly be the first demonstration of the use of ether as a surgical anesthetic by William Morton in 1846. Painless surgery is one of our greatest medical achievements. The days before anesthesia were not long ago, yet we’ve come to a point now where surgery without it is practically unthinkable.
**If you're interested in surgery in low-resource settings and would like to help expand ASTMH's involvement in this issue, please contact John Humphrey.**
November 22, 2013 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
Patrick Creehan, MD, a 15-year member of ASTMH
passed away Tuesday, August 13th, at his home in Fair Oaks, California, surrounded by family. He was 71 years old.
Born in 1941, in Virginia to mother Mary Rita Creehan and Edward Patrick Creehan, Patrick spent much of his youth in San Mateo, California. He attended Serra High School, followed by Santa Clara University, UCSF for medical school, and the University of Michigan for his residency in dermatology. Patrick was also a flight surgeon in the Navy, stationed in Antarctica.
October 11, 2013 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
Thank you to John Barnwell, Beatie Divine, Laurence Slutsker, Rick Steketee and Pete Zimmerman for contributing information.
The Society mourns the loss of Bill Collins, a beloved ASTMH member since 1961 who previously served as an editor of the ASTMH newsletter. Collins retired from the CDC this past July where he studied malaria for more than two-thirds of his life.
After finishing his PhD in entomology fromRutgers University in 1954, he was
drafted into the US Army and spent two years at the US Army Biological
Warfare laboratories at Fort Detrick. While stationed there, he met Janet Johnson, and they were married in July of 1956. He later joined the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Columbia, SC. Reflecting on that early part of his career, Collins once said, "I
received a phone
In 1973, the CDC hired Collins as part of a major research program developed to study human and monkey malaria parasites. Collins then became part of the new malaria branch at CDC, where he spent the next four decades working with malaria, mosquitoes, and monkeys. Collins called his work "an ongoing discovery." His respect and awe for the organism he studied was apparent. He called their structure "beautiful." Collins did research with many species of malaria parasites, particularly Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, and P. simium. "We learn from all the parasites," he said. The scientific community recognized Collins' intensive work in this field naming a subspecies for him, Plasmodium vivax collinsi. He also has a new species of a great ape malaria parasite named after him, Plasmodium billcollinsi.
Throughout the years, Collins stacked up plenty of memories and milestones. He authored more than 450 scientific publications. In addition, his work achievements were recognized through multiple prestigious awards, including the Joseph Augustin LePrince Medal from the ASTMH (1985), the William C. Watson, Jr. Medal of Excellence from CDC (2001), and the Society's Harry Hoogstraal Medal (2009), which recognizes lifelong service to medical entomology. He was awarded in 2012 the HENRIQUE ARAGÃO Medal at the XVIII International Congress of Tropical Medicine and Malaria.
Of his late colleague, ASTMH member Larry Slutsker, MD, MPH, director, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, CDC, said, "Bill Collins is a consummate scientist, and his career has been an inspiration to those working in malaria. His decades-long joy in and commitment to his work, marked by extraordinary enthusiasm, curiosity, and scientific rigor, have brought him richly deserved international recognition as one of the world’s leading malaria parasite biologists. His excellence has been matched with rare humility and a consistent desire to share his science with others to achieve his overriding goal—an end to malaria."
Former ASTMH Councilor Richard W. Steketee MD, MPH, FASTMH, science director, Malaria Control Program and MACEPA, PATH, said Collins was a "legendary malaria parasite biologist and entomologist" who taught many US-based malaria researchers "pretty much everything we know about the malaria parasite." According to Steketee, Collins' study of malaria has been "nothing short of remarkable," noting his involvement in the trials of malaria infections as treatment for neurosyphilis to developing the non-human primate models for malaria vaccine studies.
Despite his outsized contributions to the field, Collins said co-workers and friends helped him derive some of the greatest meaning in his work. Reflecting on his career, Collins once said, "The most memorable event was when I completed my 50 years with the government and audio-visual people made a video of my accomplishments. However, the most important and favorite memories are of coworkers and friends. I looked upon all of them as family, and anyone who has seen my office knows that my office wall is covered with collages of pictures of these current and former coworkers. I miss them all."
Collins is survived by his wife Janet, his daughter Sheila, son Bill, daughter-in-law Erin, and grandchildren Mackenzie and Chloe.
Photos from top right: Bill Collins in his signature red suspenders; Dr. McWilson Warren (left, world recognized expert on malaria, both of humans and of monkeys) Bill Collins (right); A younger Collins at one of the old Chamblee buildings, Building 16.
September 17, 2013 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
ASTMH recently submitted a letter to the editor responding to a New York Times article about the ongoing effects of federal budget cuts. The full text of the letter appears below.
To the editor:
"U.S. Workers Are Grounded by Deep Cuts" (August 18, 2013) hits on a federal budget cut that like flood or fire insurance for your home, you don’t know what you don’t have until you need it.
Today’s traveler represents a wide swath of the population. We often forget that U.S. servicemen and women are also those travelers. Deployments to areas of conflict typically mean locations with extreme poverty. Closely linked to poverty is disease - and some pretty nasty, unsolved ones (so far). Bugs that sting, bite, scratch or poke do not care who you are. You are a handy meal; you are fast food.
International scientific conferences, like ASTMH's Annual Meeting, are human incubators for ideas. For the highly-trained scientists at the NIH, CDC, Army and Navy who work on tropical diseases, these face-to-face interactions spur U.S. led global innovation and partnerships that will ultimately protect all of us.
Written and submitted by:
Karen A. Goraleski
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
September 15, 2013 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
The Society, with generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is looking forward to bringing 44 Travel Award winners to the 2013 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
These awards – offered to qualified students, early career investigators and scientists – will facilitate participation for those who might not otherwise be able to attend. Selected recipients enhance the overall scientific quality and learning potential and present abstracts at the meeting.
ASTMH began these “Travel Awards” in 1991 and over time with the addition of Gates Foundation funding, a total of 478 promising early career investigators (not including the 2013 recipients) have been able to attend and participate in the Annual Meeting.
The Society is grateful to Travel Award Committee Chair Nirbhay Kumar, PhD, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the rest of the committee for their outstanding work this year.
The following individuals have been selected this year:
Poom Adisakwattana, Mahidol University
Bahita Ashenafi Assefa, Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute
Pebanne Atemba, University of Yaounde
Mary Auma, St. Mary's Hospital Lacor/Gulu University
Kodjo Ayi, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre-TMDT
Geral Baldeviano, Naval Medical Research Unit No. Six
Sarah-Blythe Ballard, Johns Hopkins University
Kayla Barnes, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Douadi Benacer, University of Malaya
Elizabeth Brickley, University of Cambridge/NIH
Awa Bineta Deme, Hospital Aristide le Dantec
Georges Diatta, Institut de Recherche Pour Le Developement
Titus Divala, Blantyre Malaria Project
Adriana Echazu, Instituto de Investigaciones En Enfermedades Tropicales
Clement Elanga N'Dille, Institut de Recherche Pour Le Developpement
Robyn Elphinstone, University of Toronto
Thanyalak Fansiri, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences
Isaac Chun-Hai Fung, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Giovan Gomez, Universidad de Antioquia
Maria Isabel Hoshi, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Nona Jiang, University of Virginia
Mario Jiz, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
Stephen Kinara, Infectious Diseases Research Collaboration
Worachet Kuntawunginn, Armed Force Research Institutes of Medical Sciences
Kofi Kwofie, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research
Nancy Matowo, Ifakara Health Institute/London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Clement Meseko, National Veterinary Research Institute
Belinda Morahan, Monash University
Agnes Nanyonjo, Karolinska Institutet and Malaria Consortium-Uganda
Birgit Nikolay, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Melissa Nolan, Baylor College of Medicine
Jovvian Parakkal, NIH-ICER-NIRT
David Pigott, University of Oxford
Anuradha Rajamanickam, NIH-ICER-NIRT
Wanlapa Roobsoong, Mahidol University
Joan Simam, KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Program
Michael Smout, James Cook University
Wesley Solomon, Morehouse School Of Medicine
Isaac Ssewanyana, Infectious Diseases Research Collaboration
Hyacinthe Toe, Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme
Lindsey Turnbull, University of Notre Dame
Timothy William, Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Nana Wilson, Morehouse School of Medicine
Guang Xu, University of Texas Medical Branch.
Activity & Partners
September 11, 2013 · By Jaclyn Schiff · No Comments
The following obituary was submitted by ASTMH members Stephanie
James, PhD, and Michael Gottlieb, PhD, both of the Foundation for NIH.
Many ASTMH members will remember Dr. Jean Hickman, former Scientific
Review Administrator for the NIH Tropical Medicine and Parasitology
(TMP) study sections, who passed away on August 26, 2013.
[Read more →]