Great work: NTD Network PhD student in Brazil wins poster prize

Congratulations to NTD Network PhD student Mr Douglas Escrivani Olivera, winner of the Zigman Brener award!
Douglas is studying for a PhD; he is based with NTD Network member Professor Bartira Rossi-Bergmann at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and is co-supervised by Professor Patrick Steel, from Durham University, UK.
The Zigman Brenner award for best research poster is given annually at the Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society of Parasitology (SBPz)/XLV AnnualMeeting on Basic Research in Chagas’ Disease, held in November each year in Cazambu, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

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The Road to Caxambu: A gathering and mini symposium recalling the origins of the NTD Network

The 5-hour road trip from Sao Paulo to the Brazilian Society for Protozoology (SBPz) annual meeting 2018, held in Caxambu, Minas Gerais, through spectacular mountains, traces a route towards the beginnings of what is now the NTD Network.  Dr Paul Denny (Durham University) was first invited here some 10 years ago, as part of an SBPz initiative to gather an international line up of speakers at their annual meeting.  This sparked a long-term association, initially between representatives from SBPz and the Borishi Society for Parasitology (BS).  This year, Paul and other Network members from the UK NTD Network joined our partners from South America and others from the UK for a HUB meeting held during the SBPz conference at Cazambu, followed by a satellite mini-symposium, organised and hosted by Professor Ariel Silber (our South American HUB lead), at the University of Sao Paulo.

Resercher training in Rio: Using CRISPR to illuminate new solutions for two old, ‘invisible’ diseases

July, 2018; and as the cool of evening descends over Rio de Janeiro, 22 young researchers from South America and the UK gather, excited and a little nervous, to meet each other and their tutors for the next 5 days.  The teaching team of 9 international experts are here to provide training in use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in trypanosomes (Tryps), the parasites that cause the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) and leishmaniasis.  The students’ excitement is justified; their new skills will transform their professional lives, and may also be life-changing for many of the ~0.5 billion people worldwide at risk from these infections.1-4 

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Tryps, drugs, (metabolism) and rock ‘n’ roll: An interview with Ariel Silber

“I always said there were two things I’d never do: 

parasites and metabolism!”

Professor Ariel Silber, from the University of São Paulo (USP), the NTD Network hub leader for South America, laughs as he recalls himself as an impetuous undergraduate.  Ariel is a specialist in trypanosomes (Tryps); single-celled parasites causing the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness.  We are catching up over a coffee during his visit with Durham NTD Network members.

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First HUB meeting: Navigating the maze of neglected tropical diseases

It is a hot May afternoon in Lucknow; members of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) take a break from the first ‘Hub leader’s meeting’, escaping the heat and throat-catching pollution to the tranquil gardens of the Bara Imambara (‘Court of the Imam’) and its famous maze, Bhul Bhulaiya.[1]  The Network’s aim is to find targets for new drugs to treat two NTDs, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis The venue today seems apt; not only are these infections a vast biological puzzle, but also, behind the scenes, the Network’s 14 institutions are currently negotiating a maze of bureaucratic red tape to ratify the necessary legal requirements which will allow them to commence their international programme of collaborative work. 

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A Burns night inauguration for the team to tame the ‘tim’rous beasties’ of Chagas disease and leishmaniasis

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie, 
O, what panic’s in thy breastie!
It is evening, 25th January 2018; following dinner, Professor Mitali Chatterjee from the Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, faces the room and begins to recite Robert Burns’ famous poem ‘To a mouse’, carefully articulating the old Scots in her lilting Indian accent.  The audience, members of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), have gathered in honour of a specific kind of ‘tim’rous beastie’, the parasites causing two NTDs, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis.  Following Mitali, Professor Claudio Pereira (from the University of Buenos Aires), and Dr Julia Cricco (from the National University of Rosario) deliver further selected stanzas in rhythmical, Latino voices.  Finally, Professor Simon Croft (from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) translates the poem with an unexpected twist – using the language of modern parasitology.  The room shifts through amused attention to laughter and applause.

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