“All that was needed was shrewd questioning… to conclude once again that the symptoms of love were the same as those of cholera.”
This quote is from the novel ‘Love in a time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (‘Gabo’ to our South American colleagues), set during the sixth cholera pandemic of 1899-1923. I began reading it in January, alongside the emerging research literature on COVID-19, whilst representing our Network and the Durham Centre for Global infectious Diseases though over 30 interviews to UK local, national and international radio and TV, discussing the biology and disease epidemiology of coronaviruses. This juxtaposition has caused me to think a lot about pandemics and has brought to my awareness some surprising similarities between cholera and COVID-19. Let me explain.
On a quiet day before the start of the UK University term, the UK-based members of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) left their desks in York and Durham Universities, for the wilds of North Yorkshire. The cosy hospitality of the locally renowned Charles Bathurst Inn (Arkengarthdale) was a warm contrast to the wild weather that swept down the valley during our meeting! This event provided a perfectly timed opportunity to review the year and think ahead, sharing ideas and insights.
Our congratulations go to Mr Naushad Akhtar, from India’s Council for Science and Industrial Research Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH), for his prize-winning work!
On 17th November 2019, Naushad received the Young Researcher award for his excellent poster, submitted to the 2nd National Biomedical Research Competition, hosted at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. Naushad is studying for a PhD with NTD Network member Dr Pradip Sen, Principal Scientist at CSIR-IMTECH in Chandigarh. Pradip’s research team are investigating how dendritic cells, a vital component of our immune system, responds to infection by Leishmania donovani, the parasite causing the lethal neglected tropical disease (NTD) visceral leishmaniasis, known in India as kala-azar.
“This training provided me with input which I didn’t know I needed, but has changed everything!”
“These four days have been a real turning point!”
These remarks, from Jaime Isern and Victor De Sousa-Agostino, were the first responses I heard from our two PhD students from Durham University, upon their return from the NTD Network’s medicinal chemistry training workshop, held in Medoza city, Argentina, 2nd-4th November 2019.
Winning insights: Prize awarded to young researchers investigating a new potential drug target for Chagas disease
Our huge congratulations go to Dr Daniele Chame (above), post-doctoral research associate from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil, and Carlos Estevez, a masters’ student at UFMG, co-recipients of the 2019 Zigman Brener award at the XXXV Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for Protozoology (SBPz).
Daniele and Carlos are early career researchers from Professor Santuza Teixeira‘s team at UFMG, Belo Horizonte; they presented their findings as a poster in the Translational Biology session during the meeting, held in Caxambu, Brazil, 4th-6th November 2019. Daniele had to accept the prize alone, as Carlos was busy elsewhere, at our “Workshop in Drug Discovery” training and industry symposium, held in Mendoza, Argentina, 2nd-4th November.
This success marks the second year running that the NTD Network has won this award! Last year’s winner was Mr Douglas Escrivani from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
This November, our student training workshop “New anti-leishmanial leads from natural sources”, hosted at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi, brought together an international team of staff and 30 early career researchers from south Asia and across the Middle East.
For Dr Paul Denny and myself, the visit included a meeting with Dr Bahram Khoso and his clinical team at Jinnah hospital, Karachi; here, the human reasons behind our pre-clinical research became clear, and very real. Before us stood four children, siblings; each face disfigured by cutaneous leishmaniasis.
The latest NTD Network training workshop, ‘New Anti-leishmanial leads from Natural Sources: Concepts and Approaches’, went live today!
This workshop provides practical training for PhD students, post-docs and faculty members in basic concepts and modern applications to find new anti-leishmanials using natural sources, and is held at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi, Pakistan.
Pharmaceuticals industry representatives, NTD Network members and associated colleagues are now on their way to Mendoza, Argentina, to deliver an early career researcher (ECR) training workshop in medicinal chemistry skills, held 2nd-4th November, 2019. This three-day training, “Workshop in techniques and technologies in drug discovery”, will provide ECRs from neglected disease-endemic countries throughout South America with skills in medicinal chemistry and the drug discovery process. The final session of the workshop is an open symposium of drug discovery case studies, delivered by representatives from Novartis, GSK and DNDi. This symposium is free to attend: industry symposium flyer.