Tag Archives: Brazil

Introducing DR. Ana Carolina Ritter, PhD! Moving from PhD student to Post Doctoral Fellow

So you can’t wait to finish your PhD.  The years have been slowly slugging by.  It seems you have been at it for eternity…  And then BAM!!! You are done.  It seems it has come all at once.  So what comes next? What comes after the PhD is completed?  And importantly, now that you have finished (which is what you have been waiting for), it may be hard to know how to move on or what to do next.  I HAVE BEEN THERE. And so has Ana Carolina.

Ana last wrote of her interesting PhD research on Salmonella, telling us how she was able to study and conduct her lab work in both Italy and in her native Brazil.  Now Ana updates us with her exciting news that she has received her PhD.  She also shares how she navigated the difficult road from PhD to landing a postdoctoral fellowship in Bologna, Italy.

Good Luck Ana!


Italy, I’m coming!

Hello! Good news, I’m going back to Italy … To do the postdoctoral research, this time in Bologna!

In my last blog post, I wrote a little bit about my experience completing part of my PhD at the University of Sassari… Since then, I have completed my PhD and the desire to return to Italy increased!

AnaPhD Talk

Ana’s PhD Seminar in Brazil

Therefore, while completing my doctorate, I sought out a group conducting strong research in food microbiology in Italy to do my postdoctoral research. After searching through PubMed, I found some papers published by the group led by Professor Maria Elisabetta Guerzoni.  I was very interested in the research they perform at the University of Bologna, more precisely in the Distal.  I contacted Professor Guerzoni and we were extremely well matched.

Upon receipt of her acceptance, I applied for a scholarship from a Brazilian funding agency for research, called “National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development” (CNPq)1.  I outlined a project where I proposed working with new technology for disinfection of food, called Gas plasma2.  In late September I received a positive response from the Brazilian government, and will embark for Bologna in January 2013! Very cool huh?

Currently, it is exciting times for research in Brazil as the government is supporting researchers in bringing new technologies to Brazil by funding global travel for scientific education.  This initiative supports the development of competent professionals, through the granting of many scholarships to enable researchers to study in top universities worldwide.

I’m very excited as I am going through a new experience both in my personal life and academic life. And I hope that this partnership with the University of Bologna allows me to publish work as was the case happened with the University of Sassari3… And of course, I’ll be closer the Central Office of JIDC and old friends.

See you!

1: http://www.cienciasemfronteiras.gov.br/web/csf-eng/

2: Ragni, A., Berardinelli,A.,, Vannini, L., Montanari, C, Sirri, F., Guerzoni, M.B., Guarnieri, A. Non-thermal atmospheric gas plasma device for surface decontamination of shell eggs. Journal of Food Engineering 100 (2010) 125–132.

3: Ritter, A. C., Bacciu, D., Santi, L., Silva, W.O.B, Vainstein, M. H., Rubino, S., Uzzau, S., Tondo,E.C. Investigation of rpoS and dps genes in Sodium Hypochlorite Resistance of Salmonella Enteritidis SE86 Isolated from Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in Southern Brazil. Journal of Food Protection. Journal of Food Protection. , v.75, p.437 – 442, 2012.


Ana’s PhD Graduation Celebration


Filed under Brazil, Countries, Infectious Disease, Postcards, Salmonella

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.


Filed under Brazil, Countries, JIDC News

Ana: Salmonella in Sardinia

I am please to present a Postcard written by the lovely Ana Carolina!  Ana is a microbiologist from Brazil who carried out part of her PhD in Sardinia, Italy studying salmonella.  I was lucky enough to work in Sardinia at the same time as Ana Carolina while I was completing my Visiting Professorship at the University of Sassari.  Ana works incredibly hard but always with a smile on her face.  It was a delight to see her everyday. I am happy to call Ana a colleague and a friend!

I went to Sardinia!

In 2008 I started my PhD in food microbiology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It was a moment of transition, because I did my master’s degree working with mycotoxins and now I decided to work with Salmonella. I was accepted to a group that has studied the occurrence of outbreaks of salmonellosis in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (RS) (southern Brazil) for 10 years, the Laboratory of Food Microbiology of the ICTA/UFRGS.


This research group had already made several discoveries regarding Salmonella Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis).  In previous work done in the Laboratory of Food Microbiology, the spvR gene (Salmonella plasmid virulance)was identified in 82.7% of S. Enteritidis infections involved in food poisoning cases which occurred in RS from 1999 to 2000 [1] . These isolates were also characterized according to their antibiotic resistance, and it was shown that there was a high percentage of sensitivity to most of the drugs tested [1] . Oliveira et al. [2] demonstrated that strains of S. Enteritidis isolated from these outbreaks which occurred in RS in 2001 and 2002 showed similar resistance profiles as the lines of the preceding period.  Interestingly, it was identified that one strain of S. Enteritidis was involved in more than 95% of the salmonellosis cases which occurred in RS [2]. Importantly, other work from the laboratory evaluated the resistance of S. Enteritidis SE86 to disinfectants commonly used in food industries [2]. It was concluded from this work that peracetic acid, sodium hypochlorite and quaternary ammonium were able to inactivate S. Enteritidis SE86; however, this strain was more resistant to the concentration of 200 ppm sodium hypochlorite (commonly used in Brazil).

Salmonella by gyalogbodza.hu

Continuing the investigation into the strains of S. Enteritidis which are responsible for salmonellosis and acid resistance in RS, my PhD project aims to investigate the expression of resistance genes which may contribute to the involvement of this predominant strain of S. Enteritidis in food in Brazil. That was the part of the thesis that took me to the Laboratorio di Microbiologia at Univesrsità degli Studi di Sassari.


So, with the desire of live outside Brazil and to enrich the Brazilian science, I went to Sardinia or Sardegna, Italy.  Sardinia is a large Island in the Mediterranean Sea.


To realize this dream, I sent emails to  Professore Salvatore Rubino (Editor-in-Chief of JIDC) and Professore Sergio Uzzau, asking if I could perform one year of research in their laboratory. After their positive response, I applied for a scholarship to Capes, a Brazilian funding agency for research. The result was one year living in Sassari (2009 to 2010), developing my thesis.

Landscape of Sardinia

Landscape of Sardinia by Travel around the World

In Sardinia genetic modifications in the Brasilian S. Enteritidis (strain SE86) were preformed. With the help of Doctoressa Donatella Bacciu, we performed knockout techniques [3] and epitope tagging [4] in four different genes to check the expression of these strain’s forward acidity and high temperatures, results which I am currently writing up.

It was an incredible experience! Sardinia has breathtaking landscapes, incredible history and very nice people. The university gave me all necessary support for my research; with great colleagues guiding me … I learned a lot, both inside and outside the laboratory. I returned to my country with lots of knowledge: the language, the laboratory techniques, dear friends. I love Sardinia!

 Today I am writing the articles and the thesis, because I have to finish my PhD

The Italian Island of Sardinia by Hikenow.net

by March 2012.

 Post doc? Why not? Science takes us to places that we never dreamed… 


 Ana is 31 years old. She studied biology (2000 until 2004), then did a two year master degree ( between 2005 and 2007) working with  Aspergillus flavus (food microbiology). In 2008, she started her PhD (food microbiology) at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Ana’s story to be post in Portuguese soon!



Silvia, Francesca, me, Massimo and Donatella: friends and colleagues of the microbiology laboratory in SardiniaAna in Sardinia, ItalyAna in Sardinia

Amazing food and wine

Reference List


    1.    Geimba MP, Tondo EC, de Oliveira FA, Canal CW, Brandelli A (2004) Serological characterization and prevalence of spvR genes in Salmonella isolated from foods involved in outbreaks in Brazil. J Food Prot 67: 1229-1233.

    2.    de Oliveira FA, Brandelli A, Tondo EC (2006) Antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella enteritidis from foods involved in human salmonellosis outbreaks in southern Brazil. New Microbiol 29: 49-54.

    3.    Datsenko KA, Wanner BL (2000) One-step inactivation of chromosomal genes in Escherichia coli K-12 using PCR products. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97: 6640-6645. 10.1073/pnas.120163297 [doi];120163297 [pii].

    4.    Uzzau S, Figueroa-Bossi N, Rubino S, Bossi L (2001) Epitope tagging of chromosomal genes in Salmonella. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98: 15264-15269. 10.1073/pnas.261348198 [doi];261348198 [pii].


Filed under Postcards, Salmonella

Olga: From Mozambique to Brazil!


I am sooooooo excited to share this Postcard from Olga Andre Chichava.  Her post made me laugh, cry and most importantly think!  Olga is a science mom from Mozambique who studied Leprosy in Brazil.  Her post encompasses the vision of the JIDC Postcard and I am proud to have her on the Blog.  There is no doubt Olga has a bright future ahead of her!   




 A Challenge!! An Opportunity!!

My name is Olga André Chichava, and I’m a young biologist from Mozambique!

It has always been my dream to study abroad, to know how others do research and then hopefully help to improve the Health Sector back in my home country.

The opportunity arose in February 2009, when I was awarded a Brazilian Government “PEC-PG” scholarship (CNPq) and was accepted at the Public Health Master program at Ceará Federal University (Fortaleza, Brazil) under the supervision of Prof. Jörg Heukelbach.

The decision to go to Fortaleza was not easy, since I had a 3-year-old daughter and my husband was also abroad, enrolled in a PhD program in Japan. After a lot of discussions, we came to the agreement of leaving our daughter with my parents in Mozambique and took all provisions so she could have a “normal life” (expect our warm love and affection) while we both were abroad.

Upon choosing the hard way, and despite the semester starting at the end of that same month, a painful two-month waiting period followed, because the travel expenses, which were to be provided by my government, were still not available. I lost several classes and was informed that the ticket had been purchased, just a day before my departure on March 17, 2009!

In Brazil, I was welcomed by nice people but also with a long bureaucratic process regarding my student registration, which had to be done while attending classes and trying to recover the lost credits. This ended up adding further complications and delays in receiving my scholarship funds. So I had to live for several months without any funds. But Brazilians helped me a lot so that I was able to conclude all mandatory lectures and get the credit points.

I then joined the research team of the MAPATOPI project, an interdisciplinary approach to improve the leprosy control program in Brazil, coordinated by Prof. Heukelbach.

Leprosy is an infecto-contagious disease with a chronic evolution and high infectivity, though low pathogenicity, caused by the intracellular and acid-resistant bacteria Mycobacterium leprae (Fogos AR et al., 2000). The transmission occurs to people who have been in contact with a sick, non-medicated person; its immunogenic power is responsible for the high incapacitating potential of the illness.

Foot lesion, rural Lizarda, Tocantins State – 2009 Photo by Kathrin Hafner

Despite numerous efforts and advances to control leprosy in the world, the disease is still a serious public health’s problem in Brazil and several other countries (Galvao et al., 2008; Goulart IMB et al., 2002; ). Until 2007, Mozambique was the nation with the highest prevalence rate in Africa (Griffiths S & Ready N 2001;  Honrado ER et al., 2008). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the annual detection rate of leprosy in the endemic regions has considerably declined since 2002, and the number of new cases as of 2008 was about 249.000, confirming that the disease hasn’t been yet eliminated from the Asian, South American and African continents (El Hassan LA et al., 2002; Heijnders ML 2004).



So, I found it interesting to join this team of professionals and took up the challenge of researching not just about this contagious disease, but to also excel myself in epidemiology investigation, so needed to contain many other diseases back home.

Interviewing a patient in his house, rural Miracema, Tocantins State – 2009. Photo taken by Friederike Walter

The study was conducted in 78 municipalities in Tocantins State, Central Brazil, a leprosy endemic area. Tocantins is the State with the highest leprosy annual detection rate (about 88.5 new cases per 100.000 population/year) (Kerr-pontes LR et al., 2006). So this was a real exciting challenge! We visited all these 78 districts and included all leprosy patients from these districts in the study. The field work was done in four months, in which we conducted scheduled interviews with patients usually in the local Health Centers, in both periods of the day. However, on several occasions we had to go after the patients because they did not show up, either because they lived far away, were at work, or their health condition was too poor. This situation was common in the rural areas and an extra effort was put in place to reduce the non-participation bias (Chalise SC 2005). The daily number of interviews ranged from 12 to 25, and we included a total of about 1,000 individuals with leprosy in the study.

Conducting an interview at the local Health Center, Miracema City, Tocantins State – 2009. Photo taken by Friederike Walter



My task was to identify risk factors for defaulting multidrug therapy that usually lasts 6-12 months. I have perceived that adherence to therapy is a result of a complex interaction between different socio-cultural, service-related, drug-related and economical factors (Aagard-Hansen et al., 2010; Altice FL & Friedland G 1998; Coebergh JA & Buddingh H 2004; Fogos AR et al., 2000; Ignotti E et al., 2001; Kar S et al., 2010; Nsagha DS et al., 2009; Natal S et al., 1999; Trindade LC et al., 2009). Intermittent problems of drug supply need to be resolved and many people complained of problems swallowing the drugs; thus producers should consider oral drug formulations that may be more easily accepted by patients (Chichava OA et al., 2011; Rao PS 2008). I have seen how complex public health interventions can be, and that an integrated approach is needed to further improve adherence and other aspects of leprosy control, such as early diagnosis. Improved adherence to treatment will further improve the leprosy control programs and in addition minimize the risk of possibly upcoming drug resistance. I am happy that I could contribute to the control of such an interesting disease and I learned a lot about epidemiological studies, not only in theory, but also in practice. I defended my Master’s thesis in less than two years, and the results of my study were published in two scientific journals: “Reasons for interrupting Multidrug Therapy against Leprosy: The patient’s point of view; Lepr Rev (2011) 82, 78-79” (Chichava OA et al., 2011) and “Interruption and Defaulting of Multidrug Therapy against Leprosy: Population-Based Study in Brazil’s Savannah Region; PLoS Negl Trop Dis (2011) 5(5): 1031” (Heukelbach J et al., 2011).



I am currently living with my lovely daughter and husband in Japan for the remainder of his PhD course, while we repair our broken family links and boost ourselves for the service of our country, starting probably mid next year!

Thank you very much for allowing me to share my little story with all of you in this blog.

Warm regards

Olga André Chichava 


Olga Andre Chichava was born in Maputo, Mozambique, and is 35 years old.  She attended primary school at “Escola Primaria 7 de Setembro”, junior high-school at “Escola Secundaria Josina Machel”, high-school at “Escola Secundaria Francisco Manyanga” and college at “Universidade Eduardo Mondlane”, all in Mozambique’s capital city Maputo. After college she worked at the private clinical laboratory “LAC-Laboratorio de Analises Clinicas”, before studying in Brazil.


AAGARD-HANSEN, J. H.; NOMBELA, N. & ALVAR, J. Population movement: a key factor in the epidemiology of neglected tropical diseases. Tropical Medicine and International Health, 15(11): 1281-1288, 2010.

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RAO, P. S. A study on non adherence to MDT among leprosy patients. Indian journal leprosy, 80: 149-154, 2008.

TRINDADE, L. C.; ZAMORA, A. R. N.; MENDES, M. S.; CAMPOS, G. P.; AQUINO, J. A. P.; CANTÍDIO, M. M.; HEUKELBACH, J. Fatores associados ao abandono do tratamento da hanseníase em João Pessoa, Estado de Paraíba. Cadernos Saúde Coletiva, 17(1): 51-65, 2009.


Filed under Infectious Disease, Leprosy, Mozambique, Postcards