Ugandan Bilharzia researchers meet with African and global partners to discuss differences in disease severity and the development of vaccines
Entebbe, Uganda, 27th February-1st March 2023 – Bilharzia research experts at the Uganda Virus Research Institute(UVRI) and the Vector Control Division of the Ministry of Health have partnered with researchers of the Medical Research Council/UVRI and London School of Hygiene Uganda Research Unit, and partners in Gabon and the globe to address the challenge of widespread Bilharzia infection and the absence of an effective vaccine for Bilharzia and Hookworm in Africa’s most affected areas, including Uganda and Gabon.
Through a scientific symposium entitled “Uganda Schistosomiasis Symposium I: schistosomiasis research and controlled human infection studies for helminth vaccine development in Africa”, the first of its kind in Africa, the experts delved into gaps in research of Bilharzia to add to on-going government disease control programs. The three-day symposium developed interactions among Bilharzia and hookworm researchers to design, develop, and test vaccines that can be used to prevent such Neglected Tropical diseases commonly found in Uganda and Africa.
“Uganda has long been in the forefront of Bilharzia research and control initiatives – it’s an honour to have the opportunity to bring together many important partners and next-generation researchers in this endeavour”- Professor Alison Elliott, Professor of Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The symposium also linked scientists in different disciplines with other stakeholders such as policy makers, secondary school students and created a global network to collaborate with the newly founded Uganda Schistosomiasis Research Centre (U-SMRC) in Entebbe. The meeting particularly drew attention to the differences in disease severity among Ugandan populations living beside Lake Albert and Albert Nile in comparison to those in the Lake Victoria region.
U-SMRC has been established by a five-year National Institutes of Health grant to Uganda Virus Research Institute, together with The Ministry of Health’s Vector Control Division and other local and international partners, to build expertise and understanding of the underlying determinants of severe Bilharzia and to develop and identify appropriate interventions for prevention and management of this neglected tropical disease.
CHI-in-Africa is a collaborative project “The groundwork for establishing Controlled Human Helminth Infection (CHHI) Models in Africa” between researchers of the Leiden Controlled Human Infection Center, The Netherlands and researchers in Uganda and Gabon. The pioneering CHHI models among endemic populations are poised to accelerate the development of vaccines against schistosomiasis in Uganda and hookworm in Gabon and the wider region. The project is funded by the WOTRO Science for Global Development, an initiative of the Dutch Research Council (NWO).
ABOUT Uganda Virus Research Institute
The Uganda Virus Research Institute is a Uganda Government Research Center, which engages in health research pertaining to human infections and disease processes associated with or linked to viral aetiology and provides expert advice, enables partnerships and communication, and serves as a center for training and education. Its mission is to conduct scientific investigations on viral and other communicable diseases to contribute to knowledge, policy, practice and build capacity while promoting institutional sustainability.
ABOUT MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit
MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit (MUL) is an internationally recognized centre of excellence for research and training. Established in 1988 following a request from the Uganda Government to the United Kingdom (UK) Government, their mission is to conduct high-quality research that adds knowledge and leads to improved control of infectious and non-communicable diseases in Uganda, Africa and globally, through translation of scientific findings into policy and practice, and rigorous research capacity building.
Over 100 scientists across three top-notch research facilities in central and southwestern Uganda deliver research projects of the highest quality, ranging from basic science and epidemiology to rigorous clinical trials for the prevention and management of diseases of public health importance in Africa. In the last five years, MUL has trained 58 Master’s and 44 PhD students, many from Uganda, but also from other African countries and the UK. MUL’s research and capacity building success are in part because of the ability to attract strategic collaborations in the UK and other countries.
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