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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 119129
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 01.03.2008 - 28.02.2010
Approved amount 619'189.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Tropical Medicine
Methods of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine

Keywords (7)

Neglected tropical diseases; host-parasite interactions; epidemiology; control; schistosomiasis; soil-transmitted-helminthiasis; food-borne trematodiasis

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Background: The current project pertains to a 2-year extension of a SNF-supported professorship that had been awarded in early 2004. The focus of this project is on so-called neglected tropical diseases, placing emphasis on diseases caused by worm infections. The worms that will be considered here are transmitted to humans through water contact (schistosomiasis), through contact by soil or the faecal-oral route (soil-transmitted helminthiasis) and through consumption of raw or undercooked freshwater products such as fish, crabs and snails (food-borne trematodiasis). It is believed that about half of the world's population live in areas where there is a risk for transmission of the above-mentioned worms and hundreds of millions of people are infected. Some progress has been made to improve our understanding of the epidemiology and control of these worm infections. However, there is still a great need to develop new tools and strategies that will assist us in improving the control of these worm infections. Because worm infections are most prevalent among poor rural communities in the developing world and their connection to poverty, making progress in the control of worm infections is likely to have an impact on poverty alleviation.Goal and research questions: The goal of this project is to enhance our understanding of the epidemiology of worm infections, and to improve tools and strategies for their control. The following four research questions are guiding our research: (i) How can the dynamics of worm infections and morbidity be captured and what is the scope and limitation of metabolic profiling for individual diagnosis, and monitoring of disease control programmes? (ii) What are demographic, environmental and socio-economic determinants of infection risk, and how does the combination of epidemiological sample surveys with remotely-sensed environmental data and spatial statistics improve predictions? (iii) To what extent do demographic and ecological transformations change the frequency and transmission dynamics of worm infections? (iv) What is the feasibility and effectiveness of integrated worm control?Approach: Community-based cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys and intervention studies will serve as the backbone of our research. These studies will be implemented in different settings in Africa (Côte d'Ivoire and Zanzibar) and Asia (China and Laos). Our field work will be linked to modern laboratory investigations (e.g. nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy) and innovative spatial statistical approaches.Expected outcomes: This research project will further our understanding of host-parasite interactions and new tools and strategies for diagnosis and integrated control of worm infections will be established. Our research will also strengthen and expand our network of scientific partnerships in Switzerland, Europe and countries in the South.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
102883 Parasitic diseases of the global poor: from understanding complex host-parasite interactions to sustainable control 01.03.2004 SNSF Professorships