The lack of adequately trained scientists and research infrastructure is the under lying cause of the lack of basic knowledge to guide the implementation and evaluation of effective public health programs as well as informed health policies in Ecuador. The overall objective of this proposal is to obtain biological and clinical information that will improve current Chagas disease control efforts in Ecuador, while implementing a sound and sustainable training program in infectious disease research. The training program proposed herein will take advantage of the strong collaborative relationship established in the 1990's between Ohio University (OU) and Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE), and the track record of successful research and training collaboration carried out by these institutions. The program will focus on long term training at the postdoctoral and predoctoral levels. Trainee research projects will be nested into three ongoing interrelated research initiatives currently led by the P.D. and collaborating faculty in Ecuador. These initiatives include: 1. the development of improved standardized genotyping methods for T. cruzi, and their use for Trypanosoma cruzi strain characterization;2. determination of Triatomine distribution and population flow, including house infestation and re-infestation patterns, and their relationship with T. cruzi genotypes;and 3. determination of the relationship between Chagas disease morbidity and mortality with T. cruzi strains present in the country and improvement of current case detection and diagnostic algorithms. The proposal contains a solid plan for the recruitment of trainees into technical and faculty positions that will be at PUCE. In addition, the program provides a framework for the recruitment of Ecuadorians who have received advanced degrees outside of Ecuador. The increase of in-house research expertise will lead to the establishment of a "Regional Training Center for Tropical Disease Research" in Quito-Ecuador. The program will be housed in a new 70,000 square feet building being constructed by PUCE in its new campus near Quito, to be completed by 2013. This facility will have the capacity to house the labs and offices of 16 principal investigators, associated staff, and research trainees. Overall, the proposed training program will help alleviate the severe lack of well trained technical personnel and researchers in Ecuador, foster the role of scientists as efficient public health policymakers, and have an important effect in the research capability of Ecuador. PULBIC
Ecuador lags far behind other countries of South America in terms of control of transmission of Chagas disease and other infectious diseases due in part to the lack of adequate research infrastructure and trained personnel. This training program will build the capacity of Catholic University of Ecuador to conduct high level research that can contribute to the control of this and other neglected diseases.