MUMMIES, BONES, and ANCIENT PATHOGENS: CONFERENCE PROGRAM 7-8 September 2012

Below is the Program for the Conference MUMMIES, BONES, and ANCIENT PATHOGENS to be held in Sardinia, Italy 7-8 September 2012.  You can find a PDF for download at the bottom.  I hope everyone has an incredible time!

Alyson

MUMMIES, BONES, and ANCIENT PATHOGENS:  CONFERENCE PROGRAM

7-8 September 2012

STINTINO Palazzo Comunale, Sala Consiliare – Stintino, Sardinia, Italy

DAY 1

9:45-10:15 Opening of the Meeting
Salvatore Rubino, Co-chair Organizing Committee
Antonio Diana, Mayor of Stintino
Francesco Tamponi, Responsabile Regionale per i beni culturali ecclesiastici

Daniela Rovina, Soprintendenza Archeologica per le Provincie di Sassari e Nuoro
Attilio Mastino, Rector, University of Sassari

10:15-12:00 Session I: Archaic and Modern Genomes

Piero Cappuccinelli (Session Chair) Introductory remarks

10:15-10:45
Susanna Sawyer
Department Evolutionary Genetics, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
Archaic Genomes: A Story Written in Neanderthal and Denisova DNA

10:45-11:15
Carsten Pusch
Institute of Human Genetics, Division of Molecular Genetics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
First Insights into the Metagenome of Ancient Egyptian Mummies Using Next Generation Sequencing

11:15-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-12:00
Paolo Francalacci
Dipartimento di Scienze della Natura e del Territorio, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Placing the Sequence of “Ötzi the Iceman” in the High Resolution Y chromosome Phlylogeny by Whole Genome Sequencing

12:00-15:15 Session II: Evolutionary Medicine, Ancient Pathogens and Pathologies

David Kelvin (Session Chair) Introductory remarks

12:00-12:30
Bernardino Fantini
Institute for the History of Medicine and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
The Convergence of Genomic Studies and Historical Analysis of Infectious Diseases: the Case of Black Death

12:30-13:00
Marco Milanese
Dipartimento di Storia, Scienze dell’Uomo e della Formazione, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
The Biological Archives of Alghero: Archaeological Questions and Expectations from Biohistory and Biotechnology Projects in the Study of Human Remains from Urban Populations during the Thirteenth to the Seventeenth Centuries

13:00-14:30 Lunch Break

14:30-16:00 Session II: Evolutionary Medicine, Ancient Pathogens and Pathologies (Continued)

14:30-15:00
Gino Fornaciari
Division of Paleopathology, History of Medicine and Bioethics, Department of Oncology, Transplants and Advanced Technologies in Medicine
Medical School University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Cancer and Infectious Diseases: the Challenge of Soft Tissue Paleopathology

15:00-15:30
Frank Rühli
Centre for Evolutionary Medicine, Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Evolutionary Medicine: Ancient Mummies and More…

15:30-16:00 Coffee break

16:00-17:30 Session III: Ancient Pathogens

Giovani Fadda (Session Chair) Introductory remarks

16:00-16:30
Eugenia Tognotti
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Università degli Studi di Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Epidemics and Plagues in Sardinia from the 15th to the 20th Century

16:30-17:00
Raffaella Bianucci
Department of Anatomy, Pharmacology and Legal Medicine, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Vector-Borne Diseases in Ancient Human Remains

17:00-17:30
Helen Donoghue
Centre for Infectious Diseases and International Health, University College London, London, UK

Insights into Ancient Tuberculosis and Leprosy

17:30-18:00 Sparkling Wine Cocktail (Brut/Prosecco!)

End of the first day

DAY 2

9:30-12:15 Session IV: Bioarchaeology, Modeling, and Perspectives on Ancient Pathogens

Mohammed Al Ahdal and Marco Milanese (Session Chairs): Introductory remarks

Archaeology of Sant’Imbenia

9:30-9:40
Elisabetta Garau, Marco Rendeli
Dipartimento di Storia, Scienze dell’Uomo e della Formazione, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Seeds for Thought: Overview of the Archaeology of Sant’Imbenia

9:40-9:50
Rossella Filigheddu
Dipartimento di Scienze della Natura e del Territorio, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Phenotypic Analysis of Seeds from Sant’Imbenia

9:50-10:00
Alberto Leon
University Health Network, Toronto, Canada
Summary of Sequencing of Seeds from Sant’Imbenia

Analysis of a Crypt of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral, Castelsardo

10:00-10:10
Franco Campus
Dipartimento di Storia, Scienze dell’Uomo e della Formazione, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Bioarcheaology of a Crypt of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral, Castelsardo

10:10-10:20
Andrea Montella, Vittorio Mazzarello
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Histological Analysis of Mummified Tissue from the Crypt of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral, Castelsardo

10:20-10:30
Luca Simbula, Gianni Meloni, Paolo Lampus
Dipartimento di Scienze Chirurgiche, Microchirurgiche e Mediche, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
X-Ray Examination of Mummies and Bones from a Crypt of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral, Castelsardo

10:30-10:40
Cristiano Farace, Roberto Madeddu
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
A Possible Estimation of Historical Pollution Increases by Heavy Metals Analysis in Ancient Bones: Emerging Data from Castelsardo Mummies and Comparison with Mummies from Other Centuries

10:40-10:50
Manuela Murgia, Bianca Paglietti
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Identification of Sporigens in a Crypt of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral, Castelsardo

10:50-11:00
Claudia Viganò, Patrizia Marongiu
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Analysis of Pathogens Using PCR of Biomaterial from a Crypt of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral, Castelsardo

11:00-11:20 Coffee

11:20-11:30
Luca Ruiu, Ignazio Floris
Dipartimento di Agraria, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
First Report of Insects and Other Arthropods on the Mummies Found inside a Crypt of the Castelsardo Cathedral (Sardinia, Italy)

11:30-11:40
Nikki Kelvin
Dipartimento di Storia, Scienze dell’Uomo e della Formazione, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Mother-and-Infant Deaths from a Crypt of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral, Castelsardo

Historical Modelling and Perspectives

11:40-11:50
Alessandro Ponzelleti
Art Historian, Sassari, Italy
Practices and Burial Crypts in Churches of Sardinia: Some Examples

11:50-12:00
Luca Sanna
Dipartimento di Storia, Scienze dell’Uomo e della Formazione, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
An Integrated Bioarchaeology Project in North-West Sardinia: the Contribution of Preventive Archeology

12:00-12:10
Dario Piombino-Mascali
EURAC, Bolzano, Italy
The Sicily Mummy Project

12:10-12:20
Giampaolo Piga, Assumpciò Malgosa, Antonio Brunetti, Simona Spada, Stefano Enzo.
Dipartimento di Chimica e Farmacia, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Anthropological and Chemico-Physical Studies on the Mummies of Peter II of Aragon and Blanca d’Anjou

12:20-12:30
Pierre-Olivier Méthot
Institute for the History of Medicine and Health, Geneva University, Geneva, Switzerland
What is a Pathogen? Perspectives (and Problems) from Medical Bacteriology and Pathogenomics

12:30-12:50 Concluding Remarks

David Kelvin
A Cryptic Approach to Future Studies

Salvatore Rubino
Closing Remarks

End of the Meeting

Organizing Committee
Salvatore Rubino (Co-Chair), David Kelvin (Co-Chair)
Attilio Mastino, Marco Milanese, Bruno Masala, Nikki Kelvin, and Andrea Montella

Sponsors
University of Sassari
• “International PhD School in Biomolecular and Biotechnological Sciences”
• Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche
• Scuola di Dottorato, “Storia, Letterature e Cultura Mediterraneo”

International Sponsors
• University Health Network, Toronto, Canada
• IDR, Canada
• Shantou University Medical School, Shantou, China
• Journal of Infection in Developing Countries

This meeting is in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the founding of the University of Sassari.

Organizing Secretariat: Segreteria Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Viale San Pietro 43 B, 07100 Sassari segrdip@uniss.it

To register or receive more information or submit an abstract: rubino(at)uniss(dot)it or nkelvin(at)jidc(dot)org

Mummies, Bones, and Ancient Pathogens Conference Program

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Mummies, Bones and Ancient Pathogens — The Official Conference Poster

Below is the Official Poster for the Ancient Pathogens Conference in Sardinia, Italy.  More posts on the conference are to come including the full conference program.

And until then, here is a link to a past post on pathogens — My search for the Contagion Sign in Toronto.

http://blog.jidc.org/2011/09/16/some-friday-science-fun-contagion/

PDF of the Poster for Download:  AncientPathogensConference_SardiniaItaly

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A Plague of Bones: Conference!

Without a doubt, my favourite research project I have ever been a part of is the ancient Pathogens project. This was my research focus during my Visiting Professorship at the University of Sassari, Sardinia, Italy in 2010. This was my Indian Jones moment, except the treasure was not rare artifacts but the discovery of ancient pathogens.

In Sardinia there is an abundance of ancient and medieval mass graves (see burial map).  Although these mass graves data back more than 3,000 years, the reason for the mass grave construction still remains a mystery.  Thereby a fascinating scientific problem exists:  What did these people buried together die from?

Archeology of Sardinia

We hypothesized that by sequencing the nonhuman DNA extracted from the bones and teeth of the victims in the mass graves, we could identify a pathogen that may have infected these people and caused their death.   Our list of pathogenic suspects that may have caused death included Yersinia pestis, Salmonella enterica, Bacillos anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  This mode of attack, sequencing ancient DNA to determine cause of death, is not new and previous examples include identification of Salmonella enterica enterica serovar Thypi as the causative agent of the ancient plague of Athens in 430 BC [1] and Yersinia pestis as the agent of the Black Plague [2–4] although the later has been disputed [5].   Importantly, mass graves are commonly devised during a disease outbreak to limit the spread of disease, as in Europe during the Black Plague.  Therefore, we speculated that the people buried together in the mass graves of Sardinia died of the same cause, a disease epidemic.  By identifying and studying the causative agent of ancient plagues, we hope to learn about the evolving nature of human and animal modern pathogens so that we can model current and future epidemics.

Since I left Sardinia and my little project, the ancient Pathogen Project has grown enormously.  And that brings us to the announcement of the Ancient Pathogens meeting hosted by Professor Salvatore Rubino in Sardinia, Italy, in September.  The conference is sponsered by JIDC, University Health Network, Shantou University Medical School, Immune Diagnostics and Research, Comune Di Stintino, University of Sassari. This is an exciting opportunity!

Mass grave excavation in Alghero, Sardinia

Titled Mummies, Bones, and Ancient Pathogens, the conference will take place 7-8 September 2012, in Stintino, Sardinia, Italy, at the STINTINO Palazzo Comunale. Over the course of the two days, four sessions on “Archaic and Modern Genomes”, “Evolutionary Medicine, Ancient Pathogens and Pathologies”, “Ancient Pathogens”, and “Bioarchaeology of Sardinia and Sicily” will be held. Several of Europe’s foremost researchers in the fields of Archaeology, Bioarchaeology, the History of Medicine, and Ancient Pathogens are featured speakers, including Prof. Carsten Pusch of the Institute of Human GeneticsUniversity of Tübingen, Germany;  Prof. Bernardino Fantini University of Geneva, Switzerland; Prof. Marco Milanese, University of Sassari; Susanna Sawyer University of Tübingen, Germany; Prof. Raffaella Bianucci University of Turin; Prof. Paolo Francalacci University of Sassari; Prof. Marco Rendeli, University of Sassari; Elisabetta Garau, Unversity of Sassari; Rossella Filigheddu, University of Sassari; and Dr. Alberto Leo Shantou University to name a few. Just to tantalize you, here are some titles of the exciting presentations:

“Archaic Genomes: A Story Written in Neanderthal and Denisova DNA”

“Placing the sequence of “Ötzi the Iceman” in the high resolution Y chromosome phlylogeny by whole genome sequencing”

“Cancer and Infectious Diseases: the Challenge of Soft Tissue Paleopathology”

“Vector-Borne Diseases in Ancient Human Remains”

“The Sicily Mummy Project”

“First Insights into the Metagenome of Ancient Egyptian Mummies Using Next Generation Sequencing”

“Sequencing DNA from Ancient Seeds with Medicinal Properties”

For more information including registration, please visit the conference website http://www.mummiesbonesandancientpathogens.org/  or email Prof. Salvatore Rubino at rubino(at)uniss(dot)it

Reference List

    1.    Papagrigorakis MJ, Yapijakis C, Synodinos PN, Baziotopoulou-Valavani E (2006) DNA examination of ancient dental pulp incriminates typhoid fever as a probable cause of the Plague of Athens. Int J Infect Dis 10: 206-214. S1201-9712(05)00178-5 [pii];10.1016/j.ijid.2005.09.001 [doi].

2.    Raoult D, Aboudharam G, Crubezy E, Larrouy G, Ludes B, Drancourt M (2000) Molecular identification by “suicide PCR” of Yersinia pestis as the agent of medieval black death. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97: 12800-12803. 10.1073/pnas.220225197 [doi];220225197 [pii].

3.    Drancourt M, Aboudharam G, Signoli M, Dutour O, Raoult D (1998) Detection of 400-year-old Yersinia pestis DNA in human dental pulp: an approach to the diagnosis of ancient septicemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95: 12637-12640.

4.    Drancourt M, Raoult D (2004) Molecular detection of Yersinia pestis in dental pulp. Microbiology 150: 263-264.

5.    Gilbert MT, Cuccui J, White W, Lynnerup N, Titball RW, Cooper A, Prentice MB (2004) Absence of Yersinia pestis-specific DNA in human teeth from five European excavations of putative plague victims. Microbiology 150: 341-354.

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Impact Factors and Drinks…A Toast to You!

It has arrived!  The Journal Citation Report (JCR) of Journal Impact Factors from Thomson Reuters is now here.  Taking 2 years to calculate, we are incredibly pleased, humbled and grateful for our first received impact factor of 1.19 … 1.19 has any other number looked so good?

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than with a toast!  This accomplishment could not have been reached without the efforts of everyone.  So I ask you to raise a glass with me, your choice, Champagne, Coca Cola, milk, water…I’ll take a little Prosecco:

“Congratulations JIDC, Editors, Authors, Reviewers and Supporters, I cannot think of a community I would rather be part of or would be more proud to be in.  Since the birth of JIDC in 2007, together we have grown at an incredible rate.  The accomplishments as well as the growing pains have led to the development of an internationally recognized journal, which can only be described as a People’s Journal.  JIDC is truly a journal for every scientist, medic, health-care worker and also for every science enthusiast.  Every step JIDC takes forward is a testament to the how the passions of the individual collectively can move mountains, as indeed science is our passion.  The common thread running through the JIDC community is passion for the development of science and health care.  This passion is irrespective of country, institution, and research focus.  I understand you and you understand me as we seek answers to our Research Questions.  So with an impact factor of 1.19, we raise our glasses …  Cheers to you and your accomplishment! May there be many more to come!  Cheers to JIDC!”

Alyson

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Focus on Maternal Health: The Domestic Agenda by Annie Feighery

Today Mother’s Day is celebrated here in Canada and in several other parts of the world.  The purpose of its inception was to be a day to honour your mother or to be honoured as a mother.  Personally, motherhood has been my most precious gift as well as my biggest challenge. Although cultures may differ globally, one common thread ties all women, and that is our universal love for our children.

I have asked Annie Feighery to write a post for Mother’s Day focusing on maternal health and maternal survival.  Annie, mother of 3 children, is a behavioural health scientist from New York City.  Her current project, The Domestic Agenda, focuses on improving maternal health care by working directly with mothers in lower income countries and using their opinions and experiences to build better health practices.  Below Annie has included two of her videos that showcase interviews with women to find out how they would like to improve their own health care.  I have an incredible amount of respect for Annie’s work and her perspective on improving maternal health care. I am overjoyed that she has agreed to write this post.    

Happy Mother’s Day to Annie and all the mothers around the world, including my own mother (who will always be the most incredible mother I could have ever imagined).

And thank you to my children for teaching me more than I have taught them and for making a mother out of me.

Alyson

Focus on Maternal Health and The Domestic Agenda by Annie Feighery

The global effort to eradicate extreme poverty is, at its core, an effort to make life more livable and joyful on a day-to-day basis for the 1.3 billion people on the planet who live on less than $1.25 a day1. The financial definition of extreme poverty eludes research efforts because poverty impacts a family in so many ways that have nothing to do with money. Health and well-being is intensely personal and has more to do with measures of elasticity and resiliency. Perhaps the worst of the impacts is the insidious way in which poverty can rob a woman of the joy of motherhood.

Maternal health is the world’s greatest social injustice.  Ninety nine percent of the world’s maternal deaths occur in impoverished countries2. The most common cause of maternal death is hemorrhage: bleeding out of control, without clotting during or after birth. The condition is almost entirely preventable with a $1 pill of misoprostal—available if mom gives birth in a clinic, and if her clinic has supplies3. For every maternal death, thousands more women survive birth only to live with a lifelong debilitating birth injury. Among the most common birth-caused disabilities is incontinence, which can result in a woman being shunned from her family and community. Still worse, the conditions of extreme poverty impact mental health at alarming rates, sometimes in excess of 35%4. More widespread than maternal morbidity and mortality is severe depression, which robs a mother of the joy of raising her children, of soothing their cries, of believing their survival is going to make the world a better place.

There has been very little innovation in maternal health in the 65 years of international global health. One system-level problem is that global health interventions are usually contract-based management structures. A contractor or NGO proposes and then measures outputs to produce based on their input of services. There is a management rule: what gets measured gets done. For child health, outputs are plentiful: upper arm circumference, weight for height, hair color changes or distended belly from malnutrition, developmental goals by time, etc. For maternal health, there are pregnancy indicators such as weight gain and delivery date, but aside from maternal death, a woman’s health provides too few measurable outputs. As a result, many maternal and child health programs focus almost entirely on the children. Accordingly, child survival is improving precipitously, while maternal survival lags far behind.

When I am observing a clinic over a period of time, without fail, the clinic is overflowing on market days—days when people drive from the more rural areas to town for buying and selling goods. On those days, I’ve seen clinics so busy that cleaning women are needed to come help the midwives attend the births. On market days, women are able to more easily overcome a significant hurdle to giving birth in a clinic: transportation. Back at the university, I proposed a study to demonstrate maternal mortality in a district reduces on market days. The head of the program said that, although maternal mortality is frequent enough to be a global crisis, on a local level it is too infrequent to easily get a significant sample size for a feasible study. The structural demands of research institutions contribute to the lack of innovation for these women.

I have been working on a film series to try to discover new interventions for maternal health by asking the women most at risk for maternal morbidity and mortality (death and injury) what would make things better for them. This crowd-sourced approach has shown me two things: first, women have amazing insights on their own health; and second, their solutions don’t line up very well with the current approaches in global health.

Women told me they know the standard for care at clinics is very low and there is often not enough equipment for them. I saw this firsthand when I shadowed a midwife in Uganda. There were not enough gloves for her to double glove or even change gloves between patients. Moreover, the gloves are not elbow-high, meaning she risked possible HIV exposure by manually removing placenta—often required to prevent hemorrhage. A ministry of health official told me attendance at clinics increases by a third when the radio stations announce there are Maama Kits at the clinics—the kits that provide the most basic supplies needed to attend a birth, such as gloves.

As a grad student, I once heard a professor talk admiringly about regions of the world where women have such self-control that they give birth silently. When I visit clinics in impoverished areas, I often see women slapped and derided if they yell out in pain. I think it’s not self-control that causes their silence, but fear of abuse and shame. The women I talk to say the treatment they receive in clinics is openly discussed between friends and family when they are deciding whether to go to clinic for birth or use a traditional birth attendant (TBA). As a behavioral scientist, I see a survivor’s bias that also influences the use of TBAs: no women who died in birth are present for those conversations. The women who had good experiences credit their TBA.

In communicating maternal health specifically or global poverty in general, I run into the problem that the women sound like victims of a system beyond their control. People don’t identify with a victim in a narrative. We all want to be heroes. If researchers and policy makers don’t identify with the individuals whose lives they’re working to improve, how can they succeed? My favorite part of crowd-sourcing new solutions to maternal health is this helps us see that these women are heroes. They know how to save their own lives. In fact, I have started gain framing the condition in my own papers: using a new term rather than maternal mortality in order to reinforce a sense of hope among even the research world: Maternal survival.

by Annie Feighery

Annie Feighery is a behavioral health scientist, entrepreneur, and mother of three in New York City. Annie is the co-founder of The Domestic Agenda, which is currently in production of a documentary about the global effort to crowdsource maternal health solutions. More information about the film can be found at http://www.TheDomesticAgenda.org/film. In addition, Annie is the co-founder of mWater.Co, a start-up offering mobile technology for water monitoring in low- and middle-income communities.

Annie can be followed online at twitter.com/anniefeighery

Reference List

(1)   The World Bank. Poverty Reduction and Equity. http://web worldbank org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/0,,menuPK:336998~pagePK:149018~piPK:149093~theSitePK:336992,00 html [serial online] 2012.

(2)   Ghosh MK. Maternal mortality. A global perspective. J Reprod Med 2001;46:427-433.

(3)   Sheldon WR, Blum J, Durocher J, Winikoff B. Misoprostol for the prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2012;21:235-250.

(4)   Wachs TD, Black MM, Engle PL.Maternal Depression: A Global Threat to Children’s Health, Development, and Behavior and to Human Rights.  Child Development Perspectives 2009;3;1;51-59

Read More: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1517/13543784.2012.647405. web [serial online] 2012.

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Dr. Asghar Nazeer – A recent JIDC author!

One of the things I love about JIDC is that it brings together so many people from so many different countries and cultures. When I first started the JIDC blog, I invited everyone in the JIDC community to contribute posts in which they share their science experiences working in a culture different from their own. We’ve had some great posts about adventures in Brazil, China, Vietnam and other places. This week, I am pleased to share Dr. Asgar Nazeer’s story. He is an accomplished scientist and medical doctorand a recent JIDC author.  Dr. Nazeer’sPostcard reflects his life as a researcher as well as his personal values thathe carries through to his work.  It is this kind of spirit and caring that drive the dedication behind JIDC. His story is inspiring!

Alyson

Dr. Asghar Nazeer, MBBS, MPH, MHS, DrPH (Johns Hopkins)

Dr. Asghar Nazeer, together with Dr. Jaffar Al-Tawfiq, is the author of a review article “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus metrics for patients in Saudi Arabia” published in the March issue of JIDC.  JIDC came to know that Dr. Nazeer has been selected as a Member under Spotlight for March 2012 by the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health. He was originally inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Alpha Chapter (the society’s founding chapter) in 1994 at Johns Hopkins University and elected as a Lifetime Member in 1995. He is a committed member of the Delta Omega Mentor Network. Dr. Nazeer has more than 27 years’ experience in public health, epidemiology, and clinical medicine. Over the course of his career, Dr. Nazeer has been at the forefront of public health practice. He has won several medals, honors and awards in his homeland and in the United States. JIDC blog therefore took the opportunity to invite him to share his story regarding how he started his career and how his education and research in Johns Hopkins University transformed his calling as a doctor.

Dr. Nazeer originates from Pakistan. He a was an outstanding student throughout his high school and college years and won National Talent Scholarships and three gold medals including a Prime Minister of Pakistan Gold Medal for his academic achievements. He graduated in 1983 from King Edward Medical University, the most prestigious school of medicine in Pakistan. He worked as a physician for five years in leading centers-of-excellence offering post-graduate training programs in medical specialties. He was commended as a physician by his patients, superiors, and colleagues and was concentrating in clinical cardiology for advanced certification. However, he was touched by the suffering of his patients and realized that “prevention is better than cure” is not just a cliché but a sound fact. Instead of dealing with the illness of one patient at a time, he thought he should serve populations at large by promoting health and preventing disease. He then decided to leave the lucrative career of a physician and voluntarily adopted public health as his calling to serve the humanity for the greatest good of the greatest number.

As his first public health assignment, he joined the Federal Ministry of Planning and Development, Pakistan, as Assistant Chief of Health Section in 1989 where he contributed to health policy formulation and health-care planning at the national level. He participated in planning, implementing, and evaluating nationwide projects focusing on prevention. In that capacity, he represented his Ministry in projects involving collaboration between the Government of Pakistan and international agencies such as the WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, UNICEF and USAID.

His academic excellence and extensive experience in health policy and planning contributed to his winning the internationally competitive World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program’s Fellowship for studies at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he earned MPH, MHS, and DrPH degrees. He won the Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Recognition Award, William H. Draper Fellowship, and Friends of International Health Student Scholarship Award and was inducted into Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Alpha Chapter.

After completing his coursework for the Dr PH degree at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Nazeer had to leave the USA to attend to his ailing mother, who relied on him for her care and companionship. Dr. Nazeer answered her call without hesitation and gave up chasing his American dream at a juncture when he was winning honors and awards on many fronts. With her consent, he moved to United Arab Emirates where his several siblings worked so that his family could reunite there.

Dr. Nazeer worked for the Federal Ministry of Health, United Arab Emirates, from June 1995 to December 2003 as Senior Public Health Specialist with the Policy and Projects Department. He was involved in several projects and policy initiatives and had the opportunity to collaborate with the World Bank, WHO and other agencies as one of the Ministry of Health’s team members.

He wrote an outstanding dissertation, by utilizing his weekends and vacations while working full-time, which was lauded by his academic and thesis advisors and the dissertation committee. His dissertation focused on developing algebraic methods for evaluating validity and reliability of diagnostic and screening tests from their agreement data in the absence of a gold standard. He applied those methods to cervical cancer screening data for comparing them with the conventional methods. Dr. Nazeer holds women and children’s rights and their health-care priorities in his highest regards. He accordingly named his dissertation as R and Z Conceptual and Analytical Framework as a tribute to his wife’s dedication and sacrifices and his autistic son’s angelic innocence by putting the initials of their names in his dissertation’s title. He truly believes that behind every successful man there is a woman and considers his wife, who is also a physician, as his best friend ever. He also commends the great sacrifices of his mother for supporting him in getting the best education and laying a strong foundation of his career.

Dr. Nazeer resigned from his position in Ministry of Health UAE in 2003 to take on a new assignment as Senior Epidemiology Specialist in the Preventive Medicine Services Division of Saudi Aramco Medical Services Organization. He is still working in the same organization.

In short, Dr. Nazeer graduated as a physician and practiced clinical medicine for five years. He then decided to become a public health professional and obtained his higher education from Johns Hopkins University. His first two years of education in Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health were funded by the World Bank Fellowship. He believes that the prayers and untiring support of his mother and his wife, the World Bank’s Fellowship, and studying at Johns Hopkins University transformed his life from a physician to an earnest public health professional who strives to serve the humanity at large on a population level rather than in a clinical setting. To contact him or learn more about his work, click to access his Linkedin profile.

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Welcome JIDC Brazil Regional Office!

JIDC opens Brazil Regional Office!

It is with great joy that we announce the opening of the JIDC Regional Office in Brazil!

When I was in Sardinia doing a part of my PhD project (My JIDC Post), I had the opportunity to participate in a JIDC meeting that took place in Stintino. It was fascinating, because I could see firsthand how a scientific journal operates and also how much work is behind these publications.
When I returned to Brazil, I thought several times about proposing to Professor Salvatore Rubino the establishment of a JIDC regional office in Porto Alegre. Publishing is very important for our country as well as other countries that are aiming to establish themselves. Also, when I looked through the JIDC archives, I noticed that there were few publications focusing on research conducted in Latin America by Latin American scientists.

In July 2011, I had the opportunity to return to Sardinia (this time for a wonderful vacation) and reconnected with old friends Marco Scano and Giustina Casu as well as meet new friends in Sassari. When I learned that they were going to Argentina for a holiday, I suggested they to come visit me in Porto Alegre to take advantage of a conference at the University where I am taking PhD (UFRGS) to speak a little of JIDC. We spent five wonderful days during which Marco talked to the students and teachers in my graduate program about the submission of papers and also the published JIDC items online. On this visit, we started talking a little more seriously about the creation of a JIDC regional office in Porto Alegre.

And here we are! Announcing the arrival of the Regional Office! Wonderful, is not it? The JIDC Brazil Regional office is strategically settled in the Food Microbiology and Food Control Laboratory, located in the Food Science and Technology Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (ICTA/UFRGS). This Institute was the first specialized food institute of Brazil, founded in 1958.

ICTA/UFRGS offers diverse undergraduate courses in areas such as food engineering, nutrition, pharmacy, chemical engineering, chemistry, and biomedicine in addition to several graduate courses related to food science and food technology working toward Masters and PhD degrees s in Food Science and Technology. The faculty has strongly collaborated with the post-graduation programme in agricultural and environmental microbiology.
The Food Microbiology and Food Control Laboratory of ICTA/UFRGS has several research projects, mostly linked to the investigation of food pathogens and food safety. The projects focus on solving food industry, food services and governmental problems related to food production. The head of this Laboratory is Professor Dr. Eduardo Cesar Tondo, who has been working with Food Microbiology and Food Quality for almost two decades, and is a research collaborator of Prof. Dr. Salvatore Rubino of Università Degli Studi di Sassari.
The main objective of the Brazil Regional office is to promote JIDC awarenessamong scientists, medical doctors, students and the general community of Brazil and neighboring countries, as well as to help all the colleagues of JIDC in scientific activities related to Brazil and Latin America.
We happily acknowledge the visit by Marco and Giustina, cultured and wonderful people, who showed great curiosity to know our country and customs. We are grateful to Marco Scano for his informative seminars which solidified the decision to implement the regional office in Porto Alegre. We especially thank Dr. Salvatore Rubino and the rest of the JIDC team for their confidence in our ability to join them in their endeavours.

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