Outbreak Research Team
Understanding epidemic-prone diseases
The Institute of Tropical Medicine has a rich history of being involved in outbreak investigation, research and response. This stretches from our historic and continued involvement in outbreaks of Ebola and Marburg to more recent work related to cholera and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The Outbreak Research Team (ORT) of ITM enhances understanding of what drives the transmission and spread of outbreak-prone diseases, designs and evaluates methods and models for early detection, and assesses different outbreak prevention and control intervention strategies. Working primarily in low-resource settings, the ORT has a mission to ‘strengthen the evidence base for improved outbreak preparedness, response, recovery and resilience through interdisciplinary applied research’. They pursue this with funding from the Flemish Department of Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI) which contributed €3 million over a five-year period (2020-2024).
ITM's Outbreak Research Team is always on standby to do research interventions during outbreaks in the world.
ORT members and governance
Our Outbreak Research Team comprises seven members, all disposing of profound expertise and experience. They are supported by ITM's director, Dr Lut Lynen, who takes up the scientific guidance and coordination of ORT research activities.
Eugene Bangwen (MSc) has a professional background in infectious disease diagnostics and laboratory capacity building in resource-limited settings. He has worked for several NGOs in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mostly within HIV and AIDS programmes. Prior to joining ITM, he was Laboratory Manager for Médecins Sans Frontières Belgium, supporting the implementation of advanced HIV diagnostic packages and laboratory capacity building in DRC.
Isabel Brosius (MD, MMed) is an internal medicine and infectious diseases specialist within ITM's Unit of Tropical Diseases. As a clinician, she has experience in HIV, tropical diseases and travel medicine. She was involved in research on the development of novel schistosomiasis treatment and diagnostics, operational bacteriology in Ebola and diagnostics and clinical decision for COVID-19, before joining ITM's Outbreak Research Team to focus on emerging infectious diseases, particularly zoonoses.
Soledad Colombe (DVM, MPH, PhD) is an infectious disease epidemiologist with a veterinary background. She has worked as an epidemiologist researcher in the field of international health, with a strong interest in One Health. Prior to joining ITM, she completed the European Programme on Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) at the Public Health Agency of Sweden.
Laurens Liesenborghs (MD, PhD, MMed) is a medical doctor, specialised in internal medicine and interested in emerging infectious diseases. He worked on a Lassa fever project for Médecins Sans Frontières and has research experience in translational bacteriology and virology. Prior to joining ITM, he worked as a researcher at the Rega Institute for Medical Research of KU Leuven on the development of treatments and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, while conducting clinical trials with hospitalised patients with COVID-19.
Marie Meudec (MAs, PhD) is an anthropologist who studied in France and Canada. Prior to joining ITM, she worked as an expert for law firms (UK and Canada) and as a researcher on various topics, such as spiritual and healing practices, everyday ethics, stigma and resistance, health inequalities, racial profiling, among others. She conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Haiti, Saint-Lucia and Canada. She taught at Université Laval, the University of Toronto and the State University of Haiti.
Philippe Selhorst (MSc, PhD) is a medical virologist with an interest in infectious diseases and molecular epidemiology. He has broad experience in viral culture, next-generation sequencing technologies and antiviral drug discovery. He successfully led research projects in South Africa, focusing on HIV transmission, drug resistance and microbicides.
Wim Van Bortel
Wim Van Bortel (MSc, PhD) is a medical entomologist with over 25 years of experience in the research of vectors and vector-borne diseases. His research focuses on disentangling the role of arthropod vectors in transmission systems, in order to improve prevention and control of vector-borne diseases. His studies are primarily done in Africa, Southeast Asia and Belgium.
In addition to our core ORT members, additional ITM staff may serve as a resource pool to reinforce research activities during an outbreak.
Dr Lut Lynen
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