Chagas disease, caused by the unicellular parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is a preventable disease. Nevertheless more people in the Americas die from Chagas disease than any other parasitic infection. This application will provide tutorial-based training to the applicant in mathematical modeling and modern computer science at the University of Pennsylvania and the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University. Training will be geared towards developing the skills necessary to address complex problems hindering the control of Chagas disease. The long term goal of the research is to integrate diagnostic testing of children at high risk of T. cruzi infection into control programs focused mainly on vector elimination, and to better guide vector elimination campaigns. In addition to tutorial-based training in the United States, entomologic and clinical research will be conducted in Peru in coordination with a research grant awarded by the Fogarty International Center to Dr. Cesar Naquira and collaborators. In Arequipa, a city of nearly one million inhabitants in southern Peru, T. cruzi and Chagas disease have become urban problems. A quiet epidemic of Chagas disease infection is progressing across the city.
The specific aims of this application are: 1) To develop techniques to understand and control T. cruzi transmission in epidemic situations, and, 2. To optimize the spatio-temporal ordering of the Chagas disease vector control campaign in Arequipa, and to elucidate best-practice strategies for vector control elsewhere. In developing these mathematical techniques the candidate will receive quantitative training that will complement his previous work on infectious disease and allow him to develop into a well-rounded independent investigator.
Integrating diagnosis of children for T cruzi infection into Chagas control campaigns has the potential to greatly reduce morbidity and mortality due to Chagas disease in Peru and elsewhere. Optimizing the spatio-temporal order of vector control campaigns can increase the probability that these eliminate future transmission of T cruzi.
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