Tropical Infectious Diseases Group

The Tropical Infectious Diseases Group brings together expertise on neglected tropical diseases (in particular leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis, leprosy as well as dengue and other arboviruses) and on common infectious diseases (such as malaria and TB) using a transdisciplinary perspective. The community perspective is key and addressed by a mixed methods approach. Priority topics for 2020-2024 are the science of disease elimination, eco-health and emerging infections. The ambition in particular is to strengthen surveillance and risk assessment for these (and other) infectious diseases through the use of innovative tools and methods, including the setting up of health demographic surveillance systems. The focus of the TID group is to unravel transmission dynamics, risks and determinants, as well as to develop and test interventions that reduce the burden of infectious diseases.


Effective health interventions and programs can reduce the burden and impact of TIDs through transdisciplinary research, teaching and capacity building. We aim for a systemic understanding of the transmission, determinants and burden of tropical infectious diseases, with a focus on socio-ecological dynamics and heterogeneity. We will develop innovative, sustainable and appropriate surveillance and risk assessments tools and will evaluate acceptability, cost and effectiveness of (novel) interventions to control or eliminate specific tropical infectious diseases. We will build on our strong expertise related to neglected tropical diseases and vector borne diseases, in particular arbovirosis and malaria, and include multi-stakeholder involvement in all stages of research, teaching and capacity building.

Our research plan is built around three specific, albeit strongly interconnected, specific objectives:

  • Specific objective 1: Disease Elimination Sciences (IPP theme 3). While focusing on selected tropical infectious diseases, whereby we build on the existing ITM expertise, we aim to develop generalisable insights beyond those specific diseases. We aim to lead research into effective and sustainable interventions that contribute to the elimination of tropical infectious diseases, taking into account spatial, biological, entomological, environmental and social heterogeneities. Common challenges include identifying and testing effective methods for screening, diagnostics, case-finding and contact tracing, in pre- and post-elimination phases, as well as studying hidden reservoirs and mobilisation of support. Improved understanding of the complex transmission dynamics aims to facilitate the development of novel strategies for tropical infectious disease impact mitigation and elimination. In future with additional external funding, other NTD, such as schistosomiasis and onchocerciasis, and other vector borne infections, could be included.
  • Specific objective 2: Eco-health (IPP theme 4). In close collaboration with the health systems & policy group and the clinical and biomedical departments, we aim to develop a system-based transdisciplinary approach to analyse socio-ecological dynamics that shape tropical infectious diseases transmission and outcomes apart from pathogen, reservoir and host factors (including environmental factors, climate change, human mobility and urbanisation). To develop an evidence-base for policies aimed at resilience and adaptation, we will analyse interactions between the different components or levels of the ecosystem in which people are living, and will study vulnerability and active strategies deployed by populations in the context of modifications on vector, agent, host, (hidden) reservoirs, social and environmental dynamics.
  • Specific objective 3: Emerging infections and outbreaks (IPP theme 1&2). Our research will concentrate on effective acceptable responses by validating novel surveillance, risk assessment, diagnostics and early warning methods, integrating social, human and pathogen dynamics. We will work closely with long-standing collaborators to strengthen early warning as well as develop research into transmission and uptake of interventions, assess optimal strategies to integrate vaccination and sanitation in mitigation response, and assess impact on resilience. Optimal impact of vaccinations and addressing emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are of particular concern. Methodological innovations will be explored to address common themes in infectious disease emergence and control, and overcome previous constraints towards sustainable and effective responses.

Current Projects

Acronym: AZM4NTD
Title: Azithromycin and opportunities for integrated control of Neglected Tropical Diseases
Sponsor: PPP
Who: Raquel Inocêncio da Luz

Title: Cryptic human and animal reservoirs compromise the sustained elimination of gambiense-human African trypanosomiasis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Sponsor: SOFI
Who: Raquel Inocêncio da Luz

Acronym: ZCL-Morocco
Title: A systemic insecticide to control zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis in Errachidia province - Southeastern Morocco: an intervention trial for an innovative vector control too
Sponsor: SOFI
Who: Kristien Cloots

Title: Eliminating Human African Trypanosomiasis in the three in formerly) Bandundu provinces, the Democratic Republic of Congo
Sponsor: BMGF
Who: Paul Verlé

Acronym: PEOPLE
Title: Post ExpOsure Prophylaxis for LEprosy in the Comoros and Madagascar
Sponsor: EDCTP
Who: Epco Hasker, Koen Peeters and Maya Ronse

Acronym: TMRC-3
Title: Visceral Leishmaniasis in Bihar State, India
Sponsor: BHU
Who: Epco Hasker

Title: Operational research to sustain VL elimination and break transmission in India
Sponsor: BMGF
Who: Epco Hasker

Acronym: FA4-RD CONGO 2020
Title: Renforcer les capacités pour la recherche en santé dans trois institutions partenaires, INRB, ESP et CRS (Outcome 1) - Rationaliser la lutte contre la Trypanosomiase Humaine Africaine (THA) en renforçant les systèmes locaux de santé avec l'appui de tous les partenaires (Outcome 2)
Sponsor: DGD
Who: Veerle Vanlerberghe

Acronym: FA4-CUBA 2020
Title: Het versterken van IPK en INHEM om hun academische functie te vervullen door middel van capaciteits versterking en wetenschappelijke samenwerking
Sponsor: DGD
Who: Veerle Vanlerberghe

Acronym: HAT+ 2020
Title: Eliminatie van slaapziekte in DRC
Sponsor: DGD
Who: Paul Verlé

Acronym: PERU 2020
Sponsor: DGD
Who: Ellen Mitchell

Acronym: VIETNAM 2020
Title: Targeting residual malaria transmission among the Ra-glai ethnic minority in Vietnam using a transdisciplinary approach.
Sponsor: DGD
Who: Koen Peeters

Acronym: BOVA
Title: Preventing vector-borne disease outbreaks in emergent peri-urban settings: a transdisciplinary study on the Integrated Housing Development Programme in Jimma, Ethiopia. Funding: BOVA Foundation.
Sponsor: BOVA
Who: Claudia Nieto

Acronym: Afya-Tek
Title: People-centered digitized healthcare systems: Using technology as a platform to strengthen the continuum of care in Kibaha, Tanzania.
Sponsor: Botnar Foundation
Who: Nandini Sarkar

Acronym: MASSIV
Title: Ivermectin’s mass drug administration as an additional intervention towards malaria elimination.
Sponsor: MRC
Who: Claudia Nieto, Koen Peeters

Acronym: APMEN
Title: Malaria elimination in  SEA
Sponsor: Menzies
Who: Koen Peeters, Charlotte Gryseels

Acronym: SESR Cambodia
Title: Impact of socio-ecological systems and resilience (SESR)- based strategies on dengue vector control in schools and neighbouring household communities in Cambodia.
Sponsor: TDI
Who: Koen Peeters, Claudia Nieto

Acronym: SRH Guinea
Title: Use of reproductive health services along the continuum of care in Benin: a qualitative exploration. 
Sponsor: DGD
Who: Charlotte Gryseels

Acronym: SRH2 Guinea
Title: Exploring communities’ and health providers’ perceptions and expectations for improving quality and coverage of facility delivery and postpartum care in the post-Ebola context in Forécariah health district, Guinea.
Sponsor: DGD
Who: Koen Peeters, Bienvenu Camara

Acronym: Pregnazi2
Title: Ethical issues around involving pregnant women in clinical research in low resource settings: An Ethnography of the PregnAnZI-2 Clinical trial in the Gambia and Burkina Faso.
Sponsor: MRC
Who: Koen Peeters, Maureen Njue