ITM 54th Annual Colloquium

Theme 6:

Transmission dynamics in the evolutionary survival of pathogens

We chose five talks on various aspects of pathogen transmission for this theme:

  • Prof. Martine Peeters (Institut de Recherche au Développement, Montpellier) will explain how cross-species transmission of simian retroviruses can lead to new human diseases in Africa.
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Eichner (Universität Tübingen) will give a broad overview on the dynamics of transmission and persistence of several pathogens.
  • Dr. Dionysia Gamboa (Instituto de Medicina Tropical, Lima) will provide us with an historical perspective on how malaria spread in South America, based on recent molecular analysis.
  • Dr. Lies Durnez (ITM) will emphasize the importance of the forgotten issue of residual malaria transmission in South-East Asia.
  • Dr. Tine Huyse (ITM) will talk about transmission dynamics and colonization history of schistosomes.

These pathogens and transmission aspects are very diverse and specialized. However, each speaker will rather give a bird's-eye view on the topic and emphasize how each particular model provides novel insights and perspectives that will be enlightening and useful for an educated, but not necessarily specialized audience with a broad interest in host-pathogen interactions.

Dr. Martine Peeters

Cross-species transmission of simian retroviruses and new human diseases in Africa

Martine Peeters has a longstanding interest in the origins and evolution of primate lentiviruses.

She was the first to isolate SIVcpz from chimpanzees in Gabon and the DRC. The work on genetic diversity and molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 in Africa, allowed to identify the geographic epicenter and likely point of origin of the HIV-1 group M pandemic.

She documented the extraordinary magnitude of human exposure to simian retroviruses through the hunting and consumption of primate bush meat in Central Africa and identified the chimpanzee reservoirs of HIV-1 group M and N, and SIVs, closely related to HIV-1 group O and P in wild gorillas in Cameroun.

Picture of Martine Peeters

Prof. Dr. Martin Eichner

Persistence of pathogens

Martin Eichner graduated as a field biologist, studying the vectors of onchocerciasis in Africa. After that, he moved on to more theoretical work, writing a PhD thesis on the planned global eradication of poliomyelitis.

Having worked in Tübingen (Germany), Kumba (Cameroon), Cambridge (UK), Boston (US) and Helsinki (Finland), he has accumulated over 25 years of experience in mathematical modeling of infectious diseases. His work covers parasitic, bacterial and viral diseases.

He is especially intrigued by the counter-intuitive features which he freuquently encounters in the dynamic systems which describe the transmission and persistence of infectious diseases.

Picture of Martin Eichner

Dr. Dionicia Gamboa Vilela

Plasmodium falciparum in South America: Origin and adaptation strategies for survival

Dr. Dionicia Gamboa acquired her expertise in molecular and cellular biology during her PhD at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. She specialized on Leishmania parasites.

In 2003 she became the laboratory coordinator of the Malaria Working Group at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Alexander von Humboldt in Lima, Peru. She leads several malaria projects and training courses from basic microscopy to specialized laboratory techniques, aided by the group in charge of the clinical and epidemiological activities in the field.

Dr Gamboa is currently appointed as an assistant professor at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Sciences from the Faculty of Science and Philosophy at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru.

Picture of Donicia Gamboa

Dr. Tine Huyse

Transmission dynamics and colonization history of schistosomes

Tine Huyse is a FWO postdoctoral researcher working at the ITM and the University of Leuven. Her research interests include transmission strategies and speciation patterns in animal parasites, with an emphasis on African schistosome blood flukes. To this end, molecular data is generated and analyzed using phylogenetic and population genetic analyses. An important aim is to determine the role of parasite genetic variation in schistosomiasis infection and disease development.

Picture of Tine Huyse

Dr. Lies Durnez

Early and outdoor biting malaria vectors: a challenge for malaria elimination

Lies Durnez works at the Medical Entomology Unit of ITM. She has a strong background in reservoir and vector ecology, and molecular biology. Her research, which is field- as well as laboratory-based, mainly focuses on the residual transmission of malaria in South-East Asia, including vector bionomics, research on a possible genetic basis of vector behavior, and innovative vector control measures.

Picture of Lies Durnez