Neglected Diseases in a Global World and the Unexpected Impact of Going Local
20 April 2023
- University Campus Bohunice (pavilion B11/ seminar room 132)
Lecture will be held in English
About the lecture
" Neglected diseases in a global work and the unexpected impact of going local "
Nearly 20 years ago, I started a scientific nomadic journey in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The starting point was my MSc thesis during which I was trapping rats in the 12 million souls buzzing capital city of the country, Kinshasa and collecting their parasites to assess the risk for vector-borne diseases. From 2010 on, I started to explore deeper the mangroves forests and their mysterious fauna up to the far East in the Albertine Rift and started teaching in Kisangani, the third city lying the heart of the Congo Basin.
I soon realized that there was a critical need for local capacity building to bring the notion of One Health to everyday's scientific endeavours.
My phD on the eco-epidemiology of bubonic plague taught me that One Health, well-before it became fashionable, was the key and I will illustrate with three examples how with small projects grants (<75000$ for 2 years), lots of willingness, small scale capacity building, and community embedding with local staff and villagers, we initiated research on wildlife disease reservoirs and hosts, and on the ecological and behavioral risk factors for plague, mpox virus and onchocerciasis-associated-epilepsy.
By doing so, we generated enough preliminary data which led to unexpected discoveries ( a new vector of Onchocerciasis, a scientifically undocumented population of chimpanzees living in a plague endemic area, clinical symptoms of mpox) which increased global interest, and triggered new research questions at the nexus of multiple disciplines. All research and missions were carried out in difficult terrain and most in Ituri province, a sadly notorious red zone, a war torn area where yet science became our point of entry and mutual understanding. Together with the local team we learnt that Science and Conservation are a powerful weapon of "mass pacification" ! In this talk, I will use scientific outputs to share insights on how a local work in remote terrain can impact us all globally. In a post-COVID world, and in a world who just experienced its first Mpox pandemic, I hope to pass the message on how important it remains to this day to invest in small foci to avoid bigger consequences.
Registration for lunch with the speaker /for Ph.D. students/
The sponsored lunch usually takes place in the Campus River restaurant. Please meet the speaker and other students at 12:45 at the reception desk at the main entrance (building B22, see the map below).