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The focus of the Research and Development group is the performance of studies on communicable diseases of humans. The concept includes the planning, preparation, supervision, performance and analysis of observational studies and clinical trials, combining classical, molecular and clinical epidemiology. Focus diseases are malaria, salmonellosis, cryptosporidiosis, sepsis, neglected tropical diseases (NTD) and co-infections in resource-poor settings. The group is interested in the development, evaluation and application of advanced diagnostics of infectious diseases, integration of electronic surveillance, definition of health priorities, and the analysis of the pathogens and their transmission conditions. The latter includes the analysis of genetic, environmental, socio-economic, demographic, and spatio-temporal risk factors on the host site as well as influence factors of the pathogens and vectors. The superior aim is the translation of results to implementation of diagnostics, treatment, prevention and capacity building in endemic countries. The studies are mainly performed together with the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research (KCCR), the Ghana School of Public Health of the University of Ghana and different hospitals and communities in the Ashanti Region. Other cooperation partners are in many other African countries as well as in Vietnam and Laos. More
Health threats in populations require global and international preparedness and effective responses. The infectious disease epidemiology department of BNITM contributes to this through teaching and capacity-building initiatives in Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia.
These aim to:
In January 2019, the department Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the BNITM will launch a new project in both Ghana and Tanzania on "genetic adaptation of non-typhoid Salmonella within human and animal reservoirs in sub-Sahara Africa". This work will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which supports joint research projects between scientists in Germany and Africa investigating infectious diseases and their social implications.
Within the cooperation between Setthatirath Hospital in Vientiane capital city, Lao PDR and Bernhard Nocht Institute (Klinikpartnerschaften) our team in Vientiane organises workshops about management of snakebites for medical staff in central, provincial and district hospitals. Capacity building is crucial to improve medical care for snakebite victims and to implement solid research thereafter.
After the first workshop of the GIBACHT programme (Global Partnership Initiated Academia for the Control of Health Threats) at the BNITM in April (see below), the fellows met for a second workshop at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin from 16-20 July 2018. With our partners from the RKI, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and the African Field Epidemiology Network, we continued the biosafety and biosecurity training with real-time simulations of catastrophic health events. In group work, the fellows had to respond to fictional biological incidents from the perspective of a public health institution. This involved performing risk assessments of the evolving situation, deciding on control and containment measures, incorporating communication with the public, and developing preparedness plans for future incidents. The fellows will meet again during the third/last workshop of this cohort in Kampala /Uganda in October 2018.
From 16-20 April 2018, the fourth cohort of the GIBACHT programme (Global Partnership Initiated Academia for the Control of Health Threats) met for a workshop at the BNITM. This training is part of the German Biosecurity Programme, funded by the Federal Foreign Office and led by BNITM with the partner institutions Robert Koch Institute, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and the African Field Epidemiology Network. The goal of the programme is to strengthen national capacities in disaster management and the control of biological agents, and to foster international scientific exchange. After an introduction to the subject through e-learning modules in their home countries, the 15 participants from 11 countries got together for the first time in Hamburg and were further introduced to the topics biosafety, biosecurity and case study development. The next meeting will take place during a second workshop in Berlin in July 2018.
Our research fellow Oumou Maiga-Ascofaré was recently interviewed about her work and
her career path by the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).
Here is the link to the full interview:
The second GIBACHT-cohort completed the Global Partnership Initiated Biosecurity Academia for Controlling Health Threats (GIBACHT) fellowship, a course series including computer learning activities and three on-campus workshops which were held in Hamburg and Berlin (Germany) and Kampala (Uganda).
Development and use of training material is a substantial part of the GIBACHT fellowship, thus making GIBACHT graduates multipliers who can train others in biosecurity and management of catastrophic health events. The final course of the second GIBACHT series took place in Kampala, organized by the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET). In the final workshop, GIBACHT fellows implemented their newly developed biosecurity and biosafety relevant case studies with students of the Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda)
The Infectious Disease Epidemiology working group at the BNITM starts a new project on "Genetic determinants for the transmission of Cryptosporidium spp. among humans and animals in Africa" in May 2016. The project will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the "German-African collaborations in infectiology" Initiative. This program aims to investigate neglected infectious diseases in humans and animals as well as to establish research capacities in Africa and to build up inner- African research networks.
Cryptosporidium is a globally distributed single-celled organism that causes persistent diarrhea and malnutrition in immunocompetent individuals as well as severe diarrhea in immunosuppressed patients. Although Cryptosporidium is one of the most common pathogens causing diarrhea in children under the age of two in Africa, a substantial number of cases are thought to remain undiagnosed. The pathogen can be found in both humans and animals. However, there has been very little knowledge yet about the routes of transmission and the reservoirs in Africa. Treatment options have been insufficient.
The objective of this research project is to analyze the genetic diversity of African Cryptosporidium isolates by using whole genome sequencing methods in order to decode chains of transmission and to identify genetic determinants that affect the host specificity. The data will be important to introduce prevention measures and to find potential drug targets. The study will be conducted at four African research sites, in Gabon, Ghana, Madagascar and Tanzania, within a period of three years. The study will be accompanied by an extensive training program for young African scientists to establish a sustainable scientific network in East, West and Central Africa.