LCNTDR attends ASTMH 2022
In November 2022, representatives of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research (LCNTDR) travelled to Seattle, USA, to attend the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Annual Meeting, which brings together researchers from all corners of the globe, to facilitate the exchange of scientific advances in tropical medicine, hygiene and global health.
To showcase member research and initiate conversations with those interested in the goals of the Centre, LCNTDR hosted an exhibition stall that was equipped with research summaries and general information about the Centre and manned by LCNTDR representatives to explain how LCNTDR is facilitating and fostering cross-disciplinary research in support of the WHO 2030 NTD road map targets.
The work of the Centre was well received by ASTHM attendees, with LCNTDR receiving expressions of interest for membership from 85 people from over 30 countries.
LCNTDR membership offers many benefits to individuals and research institutions, including assistance for students and researchers with grant and training opportunities, and a neutral platform for collaboration on NTD research. The Centre serves as an NTD knowledge base, supporting the dissemination of innovative and evidence-based research to inform policy and programming. LCNTDR also supports members via a range of conference and networking opportunities, bringing together a range of partners to assist in identifying evidence gaps and how to address them. A researcher database allows members to identify other researchers in their field, across all LCNTDR member institutions.
Talks and other highlights
The conference was not only a chance to share information about LCNTDR but also to hear from other institutions about their emerging research on NTDs and to identify future potential research collaborations. We learnt more about the need for a One Health approach to fighting NTDs. For example, Guinea Worm disease, caused by the parasite Dracunculus medinensis, is close to eradication, but animal reservoirs, including baboons and dogs, are complicating eradication efforts and is where current research efforts are focused on. We heard how areas affected by conflict are a looming challenge for NTD control and elimination efforts. Trachoma, a debilitating NTD caused by infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, results in blindness if left untreated. In Sudan, refugees are being pushed into trachoma endemic areas, which are politically unstable and are inaccessible to healthcare assistance.
As a team of four women attending the conference we really appreciated the focus on the impact and role of women in healthcare as well as NTD research. Although some of the realities can be shocking to hear, we were also empowered by seeing the wide array of tremendous achievements by women in this field.
Our week was concluded with an inspiring trip to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Centre. We learnt of the foundation’s many projects worldwide aiming to improve global health and heard some powerful and moving testimonies that will stay with us for a long time. We also thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in the interactive exhibitions (see us below becoming very attached to the model babies in the neonatal care/resus station)!
ASTMH was formed in 1951 after The American Society of Tropical Medicine (1901) and the National Malaria Society (1941) merged. This non-profit is composed of clinicians, scientists, students and other professionals, and is dedicated in its mission to promote global health - particularly through the control of infectious diseases. Every year the ASTMH hosts an annual meeting open to both members and non-members from all over the world, with this year (2022) seeing the 71st annual meeting. The meeting convenes tropical medicine and global health professionals who represent academia, foundations, government, non-profit organisations. The 2022 ASTMH annual meeting was attended by more than 4000 attendees from more than 115 countries, who together shared a total of 2,706 presentations.
About the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases Research (LCNTDR)
The London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research (LCNTDR) is an innovative research collaboration that brings together leading experts to conduct cutting-edge research to build the evidence base around the design, implementation and evaluation of neglected tropical disease (NTD) control and elimination programmes.
LCNTDR facilitates coordination of NTD research activities between its members, with its priority being to enhance efforts to control some of the most neglected diseases worldwide.
The centre’s core objectives include:
- Providing evidence-based technical and training support to countries investing in national NTD programmes;
- Supporting harmonisation of multi-sectoral partnerships and collaborations;
- Acting as an NTD knowledge base for disseminating innovative and evidence-based information for policy and programme formulation;
- Providing a neutral coordinating platform for partner collaboration on NTD control and prevention efforts;
- Carrying out research on new approaches to the study of the geography, transmission dynamics and control of NTDs, with a particular focus on integrated diagnosis and mapping and integrated control of more than one NTD.
Authors: Isobel Gabain (left), Poppy Berdoy-Webster (right)