Tackling infectious diseases with genome technology

With its tropical climate, South East Asia is at risk of emerging infectious diseases. As with many regions, inadequate governance around drug usage for infectious disease control contributes to the development of drug resistant pathogens. Genomic technology is a new field of research that presents a real opportunity for effective infectious disease control in Thailand, but there is a critical shortage of people with the skills required to deploy the technology.

The Newton Fund supported a three-day genomics workshop and a two-day symposium focused on equipping more than 100 researchers with knowledge about genomics technology in the surveillance, management and control of infectious diseases, as well as practical skills to implement the technology locally. Infectious disease researchers and public health officials were able to network with genomics experts from the UK and Singapore who are using cutting-edge sequencing technology in their research and in clinical practice.

Several research collaborations resulted from the workshop including ones addressing dengue, malaria, tuberculosis and Zika, and a health economics evaluation of new diagnostic techniques for clinical care. These are now progressing towards funding that would offer the genomic analysis inspired control mechanisms that could have a big impact in Thailand.

Newton funding was used to expose Thai public health researchers and experts to cutting edge genome technologies that are revolutionising healthcare and disease
control, and follow-up work is seeking to implement this in a clinical setting to
assist patient management.

Professor Taane Clark

This project was shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2017

Genomic Epidemiology in Infectious Diseases – Pathogen Genomics Capacity Building Workshop

Project leads: Professor Taane Clark, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK and Dr Prapat Suriyaphol, Mahidol University, Thailand.

Project partners: British Council and Thailand Research Fund

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