Tag Archives: JIDC Postcard

Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Perspectives in JIDC: Immune Status, The Elderly and Pandemics. by Stephen Huang

On 31 March 31 2013, the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission officially announced the emergence of novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infection in humans.  This virus has now caused disease in 108 people (as of 23 April 23), including severe cases and mortality.  Although the virus has not been shown to transmit from human-to-human, avian influenza A(H7N9) virus poses a pandemic threat in the human population due to the lack of pre-existing immunity and its high fatality rate, should human-to-human transmission occur.

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Figure 2 from Guan et al., 2013: Typical wet market in China showing staked cages of chickens, ducks and pigeons

In this issue of JIDC, Yi and colleagues of the International Institute of Infection and Immunity, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, Guangdong, China, published a manuscript reporting a possible route via the mixed poultry-mammals  environment in the Chinese live markets as the source of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus human infections.

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Figure 3 from Guan et al., 2013: Typical wet market in China showing close proximity of multiple species including rabbits

Furthermore, based on the predominant number of severe cases in the elderly, the paper also puts forth the elderly population as at high risk for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus H7N9 human disease.

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Figure 5 from Guan et al., 2013: Number of nrH7N9 human cases per age group in
China as of April 15

The manuscript describes the lack of knowledge in designing effective H7N9 vaccines and immune surveillance, as well as lack of understanding in the disease’s pathogenesis, especially in the high-risk group.  This issue requires immediate attention for assessing a possible new pandemic outbreak.  The article can be found under this link: http://www.jidc.org/index.php/journal/article/view/23592638.

Stephen Huang

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Filed under China, Countries, Environmental Issues, Infectious Disease, Influenza, Outbreaks

Climate Change, Perspectives from Nepal

As a molecular biologist, my mind is frequently focused highly at the microscopic level.   I rarely consider the impact of large-scale environmental or cultural events on the very small molecules or microorganisms which coexist along side us.  Since reading Influence of environmental factors on the presence of Vibrio cholerae in the marine environment: a climate link, I now have an appreciation for the link between infectious diseases and the ecosystem; that is, how the visible affects the invisible or will eventually affect the visible.

 

The interaction between the weather and infectious disease status is an important area of research.  Many examples throughout history show how weather pattern changes and natural disasters lead to catastrophic disease outbreaks.  One recent example is the current outbreak of chloera in Haiti which occurred following the earthquake of 2010 (Kelvin AA JIDC 2011).  The earthquake, which devastated the country’s already weak water sanitization system, created a habitable environment for the colonization of the Cholera bacterium and facilitated the spread of the disease.  Perhaps my favorite article which reviews the interaction between climate change/weather and infectious disease outbreaks is an article by V. Sedas.  In this article, Sedas reviews how environmental factors have significant influence on the outbreak potential and pathogenesis of V. cholerae and other disease causing agents (Seda VT JIDC 2007).  As the fecal-oral transmission route of V. cholera relies heavily on the ecology of the native water supply, seasonal water cycles have been shown to affect the emergence and re-emergence of V. cholerae, thereby affecting the health of local populations (Seda VT JIDC 2007).  This article I highly recommend reading.

In this JIDC Postcard, Yadav Prasad Joshi reflects on how anthropocentric climate change is influencing health, lifestyle and ecosystems globally.  Yadav Prasad Joshi is a PhD student from Nepal and his post provides an invaluable perspective on climate change.

Alyson

Climate Change, Perspectives from Nepal

Have you ever thought about what might be considered the worst event to affect this planet? From wars to terrorism to nuclear emissions, the list is long, but few people would point out the events of climate change. Tsunamis, floods, heat waves, glacial melting and threats to biodiversity are all disasters that affect not only the people in the regions experiencing them, but everyone worldwide.

Weather and climate play a significant role in people’s health. Changes in climate affect average weather conditions. Warmer average temperatures will likely lead to hotter days and more frequent and longer heat waves, which could increase the number of heat related illnesses and deaths. Increases in the frequency or severity of extreme weather events such as storms could accelerate the risk of dangerous flooding, high winds, and other direct threats to people and property. Warmer temperatures could increase the concentrations of unhealthy air and water pollutants. Changes in temperature, precipitation patterns, and extreme events could enhance the spread of some diseases.

Global climate change has become one of the most visible environmental concerns (Bioterrorism) of the 21st century.  Climate change has brought about severe and possibly permanent alterations to our planet’s geological, biological and ecological systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now contends that “there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities”.1 These changes have led to the emergence of large-scale environmental hazards to human health, such as ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, loss of biodiversity, stresses to food-producing systems and the global spread of infectious diseases.1,2 The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that 160,000 deaths, since 1950, are directly attributable to climate change.3

During the last 100 years, human activities related to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture have led to a 35% increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere, causing increased trapping of heat and warming of the earth’s atmosphere. Eleven of the last 12 years (1995-2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature. The IPCC reports that the global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year from 1961 to 2003. The total rise in the sea level during the 20th century was estimated to be 0.17 metres and projected increase in temperature range is 1.8oC to 4.0oC by the end of this century .1,4

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These IPCC reports changes point to the drastic effects that climate change could have onlife in tropical counties and islands such as Vietnam, Mongolia, Laos, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Micronesia, and Tonga among others. Some of these Islands are only two to three metres above sea level and by viewing this trend of climate change, it is very difficult to predict the future of these countries.  The most common observed phenomena are increasing sea level, acidification, alteration in weather conditions, droughts, cyclones, extreme ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) and EI Nino effects, etc.

Climate change has dramatically and negatively affected human health in the form of increased  burden of diseases of all types, in particular vector-borne illnesses such as dengue and malaria. Changes in climate increase the temperature, which in turn accelerates the multiplication of vectors by breeding, causes droughts which kill crops in some areas or floods which cause cholera in others, thus contributing either directly or indirectly to other diseases such as malnutrition and water-borne, air-borne, and food-borne diseases.

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Climate change associated with increasingly frequent and severe weather events and causes extensive infrastructure damage, economic slowdown, and interruptions of medical and psychiatric care, all which are likely to affect mental health in several ways. These events, and the lifestyle changes that can result, are associated with increased mental health burdens.5

Basically, there are two ways to  contend with climate change: adaptation and mitigation. The former is as a short-term solution that addresses only how to protect ourselves from adverse condition, whereas the latter is  a long-term process. Therefore, both should run simultaneously. Research area in the sectors of climate change should be highly prioritized and awareness program should be initiated from local levels. For all these activities, governments of all nations should responsible, and develop and implement proper national action plans for climate change.

Who is responsible for these overall hazardous conditions caused by climate change? The answer is human beings. Now the time has come to protect our lovely earth and to think about what we are leaving for our future generations. It is not the time to look for blame for problems such as increasing CO2 concentrations, clear-cutting of the forests and so on. t This is the time  for  all nations and human beings to unite with integrity to save the earth and protect the earth for our progeny.

It is my hope that every human will commit to protecting our planet from changing climate and its disastrous effects on human health.

More opinions in this context are highly welcomed. For further information, please contact the author at yadavjoshi@gmail.com

References

  1. McMichael AJ (2003) Global Climate Change and Health: An Old Story Writ Large. A. J. McMichael et al. editors. World Health Organization Geneva. 1-17.
  2. Sahney, S, Benton MJ, Ferry PA (2010) Links between the global taxonomic diversity and expansion of vertebrates on the land, Biology letters 6: 544-547. Available at: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/6/4/544.full.
  3. McMichael AJ, Woodruff R, Hales S (2006) Climate change and human health: Present and future risks. Lancet  367: 859-869.

4. Climate change and health in Cambodia (2008) A vulnerability and adaptation assessment, WHO/MoH.

5. Roth P ( 2010) Climate change and health: mental health effects, News and views on climate, public health and environment. Available at: http://climatechangehealth.com/tag/ptsd. Accessed on: 1 March 2010.

Slide1Mr. Yadav Prasad Joshi is Nepalese and graduated from Tribhuvan University, Nepal, in Zoology and Psychology. He is extremely interested in infectious diseases and climate change. He joined the JIDC in 2007 as a Reviewer and Editorial Board member in 2012. Mr. Yadav Prasad Joshi has more than 10 years’ teaching experience in biological science to college, university, and medical students. He  participates equally in research activities, seminars, and book writing.  He has done research in tuberculosis, malaria, and many other public health issues.

Currently, he is a PhD student at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea, in the department of Social and Preventative Medicine. His research topic is climate change and health.

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Filed under Cholera, Countries, Environmental Issues, Environmental Postcard, Infectious Disease, Nepal, Postcards

Marie Anne and the WHO investigate Cholera in Sierra Leone

I believe accurate reporting of infectious diseases, including diarrhoeal diseases, to be a significant issue of consideration in both developed and developing nations.  Accurate reporting by the individual, as well as by medical and government institutions, is imperative for analysis of infectious disease epidemiology. With accurate reporting, especially of cholera cases and cholera typing, appropriate therapeutic and preventative measures can be put in place. 

Here, Marie Anne Chattaway, a microbiologist from the UK, describes her experiences working with the WHO in Sierra Leone establishing an Enteric Bacteria Laboratory in Sierra Leone.  Their goal was to aid cholera diagnosis and reporting in this region.  I can’t thank Marie Anne (marie.chattaway@hpa.org.uk) enough for sharing her project.  I wish her and the taskforce every success in the future.

Thank you to Marie Anne, WHO and Sierra Leone.      

Alyson

Marie Anne and Cholera in Sierra Leone

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Picture 1: Map of Sierra Leone

I first became interested in developing countries when I started to volunteer for JIDC (The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries) a couple of years ago as a scientific editor and reviewer where the focus was mentoring scientists to publish their research in a scientific journal. I have been working with enteric pathogens for over five years at the Health Protection Agency of the UK and now realise just how much of an impact bacterial enteric infection has in developing countries. Until now, I had only managed to help from the UK, but the outbreak in Sierra Leone provided me with an opportunity to really use my microbiological skills where it was needed the most.

Cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone (Picture 1) has recently battled its worst cholera outbreak in 15 years. In

Picture 2: Crowded housing at risk of cholera

Picture 2: Crowded housing at risk of cholera

July and August 2012, the epidemic rapidly spread to all but one of Sierra Leone’s 13 districts. With a combination of crowded housing (Picture 2), unsafe water supplies, poor sanitation and the rainy season ahead, intervention was paramount. On 16 August 2012, the Sierra Leone government declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency, and established the Presidential Taskforce on Cholera. As of 2 October 2012, there had been 20,736 cases, including 280 deaths (case fatality rate or CFR=1.35%). The western area of the country where the capital city of Freetown is located was the most affected area with more than 50% of total cases. Initial training and some supplies were provided to the Central Public Health Reference Laboratory (CPHRL), Lakka and Connaught Hospital, in Freetown by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B).  The Global Outbreak Alert Response Network (GOARN) later requested a microbiologist to further evaluate laboratory facilities and provide technical advice and assistance to strengthen laboratory services for detection of cholera cases, capacity for confirmation by laboratory identification and for conducting differential diagnosis for main enteric pathogens (e.g., Vibrio cholera, Shigella, Salmonella, E. coli). The Health Protection Agency (HPA), UK, sent a microbiologist from the Gastrointestinal Bacteria Reference Unit (GBRU) to undertake this task from 10 October to 8 November 2012.

Travel to Freetown

The HPA was already involved with the cholera outbreak with a focus on epidemiology and case management; Sarika Desai and William Welfare from the HPA had already been deployed as WHO consultants. The specific request for a microbiologist to go to Sierra Leone for the month came later and though I had volunteered to go, in the end I had only 24 hours’ notice that I was on the flight the next day and that urgent supplies were needed. Needless to say, my two large suitcases were filled with consumables as well as clothes, a ridiculous amount of a range of pharmaceutical products (which I did end up using – unfortunately), and insect repellent (the insects still got me, though). I’m not sure what part of the journey was the worst: the bad turbulence on the plane with the woman behind me screaming; the small speedboat trip across the sea in the pitch black;  the jolting of the spine across the dirt tracks in the jeep;, or the sickness on arriving when adapting to the humidity and heat (as you know, we English are used to the cold). Either way, I did make it in one piece and was so happy that I didn’t crash in the plane and impressed by the stunning views (Picture 3) that actually I didn’t mind the bumpy roads.

Picture 3: One of the many stunning views in Freetown

Picture 3: One of the many stunning views in Freetown

Assessment of the laboratory

I was fortunate that there was a dedicated laboratory which had been selected to develop testing based at the Central Public Health Reference Laboratory (CPHRL) in Lakka. It was an hour away from the WHO office. Prior to intervention the department was faced with challenges of the lack of supplies, shortage of available trained staff, poor processing systems, and inadequate Health and Safety protocols in the enteric bacteria section of the CPHRL. The icddr-b had done a fantastic emergency response but further work was now required to establish and maintain an enteric bacteria laboratory in Sierra Leone.

Establishing an Enteric Bacteria Laboratory in Sierra Leone

Before training could even begin, a supplies stock system with the support of the WHO, HPA, CDC and Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) was set up to receive the required equipment and supplies. Molly Freemen from the Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch of the CDC joined me for 11 days and the collaboration of all these organisations enabled the success of this mission. Intense training of multiple staff was necessary to maintain function after I left and the staff worked incredibly hard, even coming in at weekends and public holidays. A quality accredited process was set up, including the design of request forms for necessary information, the development of protocols for taking samples, receiving and logging the samples into CPHRL, and testing and recording results on the enteric result database for reporting (Picture 4). A surveillance link was also set up

Picture 4: Left to Right: Musu Abu entering laboratory results with Marie Anne Chattaway

Picture 4: Left to Right: Musu Abu entering laboratory results with Marie Anne Chattaway

so that regular weekly reporting of confirmed enteric pathogens is fed back. The two weeks of practical (Picture 5) and theoretical training was followed by intense three-day theory and practical competency testing. Staff were then certificated in “Isolation and identification of Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella typhi, non-typhoida, lSalmonella, Shigella sp. and E. coli O157” and “Health and Safety and Quality Systems in the enteric bacteria laboratory” (Picture 6).

Picture 6: Left to Right: Musu Abu, Fay Rhodes and Marie Anne Chattaway in Enteric Bacteriology, Quality and Health & Safety training

Picture 5: Left to Right: Musu Abu, Fay Rhodes and Marie Anne Chattaway in Enteric Bacteriology, Quality and Health & Safety training

Challenges and future Work

To sustain the new laboratory service, there is still much work to be done.  The supply system must be managed to ensure stock is available when needed.  Regular testing at the laboratory and reporting of results are essential for monitoring the cholera situation in the country. The biggest challenge will be the organisation and implementation of regular sample collection and transport to CPHRL.  Without regular samples from the districts, the testing competency and surveillance cannot be maintained. The impact of this part of the international response has been considerable; there is now a system for detecting and confirming cholera and other enteric pathogens within Sierra Leone.  If this laboratory component of surveillance is sustained it will lead to a better understanding of the incidence of cholera in the country and provide earlier recognition should the infection become epidemic again, thus enabling a rapid response.

Picture 6: Left to Right: Molly Freeman, Ahmed Foray Samba, Musu Abu, Slyvester Kamanda, Dr Abdual Kamara, Fay Rhodes and Marie Anne Chattaway. Other staff who participated and not in this photo include Eric Sefoi and Doris Harding.

Picture 6: Left to Right: Molly Freeman, Ahmed Foray Samba, Musu Abu, Slyvester Kamanda, Dr Abdual Kamara, Fay Rhodes and Marie Anne Chattaway. Other staff who participated and not in this photo include Eric Sefoi and Doris Harding.

Would I recommend this experience

Absolutely! It was an amazing experience, from networking and collaborating on an international scale with the most amazing and interesting people to experiencing the culture. I felt a real sense of achievement seeing how I can personally make a difference. It is hard work, working long hours with little breaks in sometimes difficult conditions, but the end result was worth any hardship. My favourite challenge was when I first opened the incubator to find lots of small ants favouring the Trypticase Soy agarplates. At first I didn’t think much of it, but when I looked at the plates carefully I saw tiny ant footsteps left by the insects that had walked on a cholera plate just after it had been inoculated. The ants had walked across the plate, dragging the bacteria with it (Picture 7). It is possible that perhaps there is a vector influence with the spread of some diseases that we wouldn’t normally consider!

By Marie Anne Chattaway

**Pictures taken by Marie Anne Chattaway, HPA.

Picture 8: Ant trail spreading cholera on a Trypticase Soy Agar plate (see line from top of plate to the bottom across the middle).

Picture 7: Ant trail spreading cholera on a Trypticase Soy Agar plate (see line from top of plate to the bottom across the middle).

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Filed under Countries, Infectious Disease, Postcards, Sierra Leone, Vibrio cholera

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!

Alyson

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.

AnaPhDParty

Ana’s PhD Graduation Celebration

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

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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Filed under Pakistan, Postcards, USA

Goodbye 2011 and Hello New Science Year 2012: JIDC Postcards 2011- a Wrap-up

Good Bye 2011.  Hello New Science Year! Its 2012!  I hope everyone had a fabulous 2011 and rang in 2012 with a (big) bang!

There is so much a new year brings, especially in science. A new year with many possibilities. New conferences to attend (yeah!). Papers to publish. Exciting projects to start.  And new posts to write for the JIDC Blog!

To move forward in a guided direction I often feel we need to review the past.  What conferences were attended?  Were they beneficial? What papers were we able to publish last year? Were they well received? What are the stages of the current projects? Are they close to a publication? Are they close to completion?

And here at the JIDC Blog, what were the posts on the Blog over the last year?  Were they helpful to readers and authors? Did they promote scientific discussion? Were the Blog and the Blog Posts a good resource for research information? – This was my main goal when starting the JIDC Blog.  My hope was that the Blog would be useful to JIDC readers and authors alike as an information resource as well as a point for discussions.  I also hoped that it would be a valuable tool for non-JIDC members and help educate new people about JIDC.

So shall we review?

There is a blog tradition that I have only just learned about.  The tradition is that the first post of the New Year should be a listing of all the first sentences from the first post of every month from the previous year.

Below is a listing of all of the first Posts of every month in 2011 and the first sentences from each.  I have also added my personal notes from each post.

Here we go…

June 2011 — JIDC Postcards: The JIDC Blog

Hi, and welcome to JIDC’s blog. 

I was sooo excited…and nervous to introduce the Blog to the JIDC community and the world.  Would anyone read it? Would anyone like it?  Would it be a Blog that we could be proud of? Only you can answer these questions for me. 

 

July 2011 – Olga:  From Mozambique to Brazil

A Challenge!! An Opportunity!!

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

I absolutely loved this post from Olga. Her story gave an incredible view into the life of a research student who is also a mother.  I was inspired to see her courage to move to a foreign country and her drive to build her masters project.   She shared her passion for research as well as life with us. This post was featured on the headlines of Microbiology Daily, I was so proud. Also, this post is the most popular post on the Blog.

 

August 2011 – Milliedes in Kashmir,India

Insects have been found in Marrhama, a village in Blok Trehgam in the District of Kupwara Jammu and Kashmir, India. The main water source used for drinking purposes is badly affected by the insects.

This post from Dr. Kadri highlighted problems that affect regional areas which can easily go unnoticed to the rest of the world.  I am so glad that he shared this experience so that more people can be aware of such difficulties that face communities. This is the second most popular post of all time on the Blog and I am happy that it has reached so many people!

 

September 2011 – The First Annual Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection

The Africa Health Research Organization, AHRO, presents the International Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection

What: First International Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection
When: 6-7 January 2012
Where: Edinburgh Scotland
Who: Presented by AHRO,Africa Health Research Organization

It was great to post about this conference.  Since the conference was just completed, I hope that everything went well and it was a successful event.  Also, I would love to hear a roundup of the conference by anyone who attended.  Please contact me if you are interested in writing a Blog Post describing this meeting.

 

October 2011 – And the winner is…! JIDC Open Access Week#4

And the winner is….I just couldn’t help it.  I have enjoyed Open Access Week and the JIDC T-shirt give-away that I could not just draw only 1 name.  So I picked 6!

Ooooo this was an exciting one.  I was incredibly happy to share JIDC and the JIDC T-shirts with readers and authors! If you are a winner and you haven’t contacted me and would still like at T-shirt, please let me know.

 

November 2011 – Publishing a Scientific Article in JIDC

How do I publish a scientific paper?…This question is asked by all young scientists. 

How do you write a scientific paper? There are so many directions one can take when putting their research together. I hope this helped authors organize themselves when preparing manuscripts for JIDC.  In addition to this Post, if you have other specific questions about writing a paper or you have a particular writing topic you would like to see a post about, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  I am currently preparing a post how I write a scientific paper to share with you.

 

December 2011 – ReR – MedToday!

Memento te hominem esse. – Remember that you are human.

What an important point that is! Remember you are human. We are all vulnerable and delicate aren’t we? I am so happy to have posted the special work of ReR-MedToday! The importance of support during times of ill health can’t be overstated. I am sure the families touched by this organization are forever grateful.

 

Thats a Wrap! 

So that’s the JIDC Blog for 2011.  I hope 2012 brings just as fabulous Posts and discussions as 2011 did.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the Posts and Discussion of the 2011 JIDC Blog!  In no particular order, BIG THANKS to:

IRIN and Jane Summ

Olga Andre Chichava

Prof. Jorg Heukelbach

Anna Carolina Ritter

Laboratory of Food Microbiology of the ICTA/UFRGS

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

Dr. Vinod Singh

USAID

David Dorherty

Joanne Wong

Dr. S.M. Kadri

Open Access and Open Access Week

SPARC

PLoS

Donna Okubo

Dr. Amber Farooqui

Jain et al., JIDC 2011

Dr. Abubaker Yaro

Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

1st International Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection

The Grandest Challenge

Dr. Abdallah S. Daar

Dr. Peter A. Singer

Sun et al., JIDC 2011

Amedei et al., JIDC 2011

Elios et al., JIDC 2011

Jeff Coombs

Tracy Zao

Ashish Chandra Shrestha

Sara Norris

Christopher Logue

Sunita Pareek

Marie Anne Chattaway

Chimwemwe Mandalasi

Jane-Francis Akoachere

University of Buea, Cameroon

Nikki Kelvin

Tribaldos et al., JIDC 2011

Dr. Lorelei Silverman

Dr. Rosalind Silverman

Models of Human Diseases

Loredana

University Hospital of Hue, Vietnam

University of Sassari

Dr. Le Van An

Dr. Tran

Prof. Piero Cappuccinelli

Remi Eryk Raitza

ReR-MedToday!

SmileKenya

Drake Current

Current Family

Dr. Myo Nyein Aung

School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok

And a spceial thanks to Prof. Salvatore Rubino for his support of the Blog!

Reflecting on the 2011 Blog has shown me I have lots more science to cover! It has also spiked my curiosity.  What was your favorite Post of 2011?  What about your Favorite JIDC Postcard? Was there a topic that you enjoyed reading about or a Postcard that you could identify with? Let me know. I love to hear from you!

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Filed under Amber, Countries, Editor's Pick, Environmental Issues, JIDC News, Open Access, People, Postcards, Science Thoughts, Science Tools, Scientific Writing, Wrap-Up

From Thailand! The transformation of a clinician into a researcher

This fabulous story comes from Dr. Myo Nyein Aung a clinical researcher who worked at the Bangkok School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand. Here Dr. Aung describes how he developed his research ideas and write-up as a manuscript Observation of genotype C infected chronic hepatitis B patients in clinical practice which is now published in the December 2011 Issue of JIDC.  

I love this story. It highlights the importance of scientific organization of research data as well as the value of presenting your work to your peers.  By formulating your own data for presentations it forces one to view their work from other perspectives, including as a reviewer. This view-point can lead to new developments in the thesis and paths to follow. 

Thank you so much Dr. Myo Aung for sharing your story.

Alyson    

The brief story of clinical research at Trop-Med, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

Writing this paper for the JIDC reminded me of my times at the School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok. This was the place and time where I was transformed into a clinical researcher.

Building a Story!

I still remember my advisor asking me to make PowerPoint presentations of the longitudinal data of all the cases I had worked on. To plot everything—viral load, ALT, AFP and genotype—in a single slide for all cases was not an easy job. It took me one week. Finally, after a Monday clinic, we met to view and discuss the slides together. During the discussion, many topics were covered. This was where I thought of the idea for my research article that is now published in JIDC.  It was during that discussion!

My adviser Associate Professor Dr. Wattana Leowattana while I am defending my thesis

What was my Research Question? – The Search

Every Monday I would go to the liver clinic at Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Bangkok. It was a very special clinic with many hepatitis B and C patients. Here I searched for my research question by reading many up-to-date articles and seeing patients every week. Many areas were interesting to explore in the clinical research of hepatitis B.  It took me almost one year to get the research question. 

Building the Story – I didn’t do it alone!

I did not collect the data in the patient’s record charts all myself. I had two research assistants who could speak English as well as I spoke Thai.  They were very helpful. With their assistance, we scanned hundreds of chronic hepatitis B medical charts to screen the eligibility criteria. We explored the old archived laboratory records to get the very first viral load of the patients. We faced many kinds of challenges to accomplish this research. Importantly, this work began my training for international collaborations and dealing with study site hospitals. Research in clinical practice taught me far more than that I learned in epidemiology and research methodology classes.

2008-2009 batch students of MSc and PhD tropical medicine international class , at the Wai Khru Day ceremony of Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand

All the ideas were overwhelming at the time of writing the protocol and paper. The balance of ideas and feasibility would determine how quickly we could do research and how well it could be accomplished. My advisors and I were strict on eligibility criteria. The samples were difficult to collect. Time was limited. Funds were gone. I had to defend my thesis. I had to write my manuscript.

The Finished Manuscript

My paper describes  genotype C chronic hepatitis B as we see and treat the patients at the hepatitis clinic every follow-up. Moreover, I wanted to point out the carcinogenic potential of the most prevalent genotype in Thailand. We worked out many of the caveats including adjusting for sample size.  A scientifically sound hypothesis was generated. There were many cycles of rejections and resubmissions, reanalysis and amendment. Finally I could present my ideas and my work through the Journal of Infection in Developing Countries. Thank you, JIDC.

With my same batch and junior class mates at JITMM, Joint International Tropical Medicine Meeting, 2009: Molecular scientists (ladies) and clinical researchers ( gentle men)

Sincerely,

Dr. Myo Nyein Aung

Dr. Myo Nyein Aung

My name is Dr. Myo Nyein Aung.
I am a Myanmar doctor. I was born in Magway, a central city in Myanmar.
I studied for my MD at Mandalay, second capital of Myanmar.
I was taught to be a clinical researcher at Bangkok School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand. This paper is the third paper I could publish within six months of my research-based Master. My JIDC blog post is about the idea generation and process of doing my research at School of Tropical Medicine. Currently, I am working as international collaborative researcher, author, reviewer and editorial in medical journals.

Happy New Year 2009 at Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand

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Filed under Countries, Hepatitis, Thailand, Uncategorized