The second Centre for Global Infectious Diseases (CGID) annual meeting, a joint venture Durham University and the University of Newcastle, took place today at the Newcastle Medical School, hosted by our colleagues from the Newcastle University Fungal Research team. This year’s programme showcased some of the engaging research into global infections that takes place across the northeast UK, and gave particular emphasis to early career researchers working on globally-significant diseases, many of which impact developing countries.
Speakers included Vanessa Lyne from the NTD Network UK Hub (Durham University), speaking about nitro drugs – and the problems and possibilities for leishmaniasis; NTD Network fellow Brian Mantilla (Durham University) with insights into inositol phosphate signalling in Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) Helen Price (Keele) on cutaneous leishmaniasis (Leishmania spp.) and the stigma resulting from this disfiguring infection. Other talks highlighted that globally-significant infectious diseases are not all confined to developing countries or indeed humans; Callum Fraser (Newcastle University) shared his insights into the impact of fungal infections on wheat crops.
The added value of the UK CGID community, a spin-off from the formation of the UK NTD Network, is that the problems encountered with complex infectious diseases share common principles across disease areas. The chance to focus on these problems and how we respond and overcome them enables us to learn from each other, and benefit from the motivation that arises in a mutually supportive cohort of shared interest and enthusiasm.
This spirit of cooperation and collaboration has already in its first year, fostered a number of tangible benefits and shared projects, including the funding of the “Molecular Sciences for Medicine” (MoSMed) Centre for Doctoral Training, a joint venture between Newcastle and Durham Universities, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and forging links with multiple pharmaceuticals partners across the UK Northeast region.
The Durham MoSMed team is led by NTD Network chemist Ehmke Pohl, supported by chemist Steven Cobb and biologist Paul Denny, which includes drug development projects for NTDs, cancer and other clinical morbidities. Ehmke is clear on the value of this type of broad collaboration: “I feel that this type of mutually supportive, cross-institutional and cross-sectoral collaboration holds the key to a thriving academic future in the UK and beyond.”