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Parasitic diseases of the global poor: from understanding complex host-parasite interactions to sustainable control

English title Parasitic diseases of the global poor: from understanding complex host-parasite interactions to sustainable control
Applicant Utzinger Jürg
Number 102883
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Tropical Medicine
Start/End 01.03.2004 - 29.02.2008
Approved amount 1'413'166.00
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All Disciplines (6)

Tropical Medicine
Methods of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Medical Statistics
Public Health and Health Services

Keywords (12)

Parasitic diseases; host-parasite interactions; malaria; schistosomiasis; soil-transmitted helminthiasis; integration & sustainability diagnosis; diagnosis and prognosis; NMR-based; metabonomics; epidemiology; integrated disease control

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
The focus of my project is on parasitic diseases of the global poor,particularly on malaria, schistosomiasis and soil-transmittedhelminthiasis (STH). These diseases affect millions of people, account forthe loss of 85 million disability adjusted life years annually, and delaysocial and economic advance. The incidence of malaria has increased overthe past 20 years, and the number of people infected with schistosomiasisand STH has not changed in 50 years. Concerted control efforts arerequired to improve health and social wellbeing, and to alleviatepoverty - primary objectives of the millennium development goals.Some of the most intriguing questions are the understanding of the complexhost-parasite interactions. This implies fundamental investigations of thehost-to-parasite cross-talk, and the interplay between the diseases andrisk factors operating at different scales. Recognising the challenges ofaddressing these issues, my project pursues four main research questions.First, how can the dynamics of multiple species parasitic infections anddisease-attributable morbidity be captured and what is the role ofNMR-based metabonomics for diagnosis and prognosis, and monitoring ofmorbidity control programmes? Second, what are key ecological andsocio-economic determinants of infection risk, and how does thecombination of epidemiological sample surveys with remotely sensedenvironmental data and Bayesian spatial statistical modelling improvepredictions? Third, to what extent do demographic and ecologicaltransformations change the frequency and transmission dynamics ofparasitic diseases, and what can mitigation strategies achieve? Finally,what is the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of integrated parasiticdisease control, and what are the economic payoffs of sustaining theseinterventions?My project is facilitated through an iterative process, integratinglarge-scale community-based longitudinal surveys with modern laboratoryinvestigations and innovative spatial statistical approaches. Thelong-term institutional and operational partnerships between the SwissTropical Institute and health research centres in Africa with numerousfield sites serves as the backbone of my project.I anticipate that my project will enhance, at the individual/communitylevel, knowledge of host-parasite interactions, and establish to whatextent NMR-based metabonomics can become a tool for diagnosis/prognosis ofmultiple parasitic infections and the monitoring of control programmes. Atthe community/regional level, innovative approaches for risk assessmentand prediction of disease are developed and validated. At theregional/ecosystem level, connections between demographic/ecologicaltransformation and transmission dynamics of parasitic diseases arequantified. In turn, the project will establish unique databases forintegrated policy analyses and the tailoring of strategies forevidence-based and cost-effective control of parasitic diseases.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
119129 Parasitic diseases of the global poor: from understanding complex host-parasite interactions to sustainable control 01.03.2008 SNSF Professorships