ABOUT THE BELGIAN SOCIETY FOR PARASITOLOGY AND PROTISTOLOGY
The Belgian Society for Parasitology (established on 10 February 1962 in Antwerp) and the Belgian Society of Protozoology merged on 19 February 2013 to form the Belgian Society for Parasitology and Protistology (BSPP). The aim of the new BSPP is to promote collaboration between researchers in Parasitology and Protistology at national and international level and support young scientists in the development of their career.
A key activity of the BSPP is the annual scientific meeting which is an opportunity to share research results and network with members of the Belgian parasitology and protistology community. Postgraduate research students are especially encouraged to present their work and an award is given annually for the best student presentation.
Boehringer-Ingelheim Parasitology award 2020 to Bart Everts
Immunologist Bart Everts from the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) receives the Boehringer-Ingelheim prize for his research on immune responses against parasitic infections. Everts has focused on unraveling how our immune system recognizes and responds to infections with parasitic worms.
Infections with parasitic worms affect more than 2 billion people worldwide, especially in tropical and sub-tropical countries. Parasitic worms represent a very diverse group of pathogens that differ greatly in life cycle, size, and route of infection. Despite this, the immune response mounted against this diverse group of parasites is surprisingly uniform: the so-called Type 2 immune response that can protect against these infections. However, exactly how our immune system activates Type 2 immune responses in response to parasitic worm infections is unclear. Everts' research aims to unravel this.
Type 2 Immune Responses to Schistosomiasis
Everts has made important contributions to identifying the molecules secreted by the parasitic worm Schistosoma that the immune system recognizes to trigger a Type 2 immune response. In addition, he has shown how this exactly works at the molecular level. Also on the host side, studies by Everts have provided new insights. For example, he discovered which immune cells recognize these worms and trigger the Type 2 immune response, but he also identified cells that counteract this response. In these studies he made use of in vitro cell cultures, animal models as well as field studies. With these insights, Everts hopes to find new leads to modulate Type 2 immune responses, which may be relevant not only for drug development against parasitic worm infections, but also for allergies that are characterized by the same type of immune response.
In his current research, Everts focuses, among other things, on identifying the metabolic pathways that immune cells use to mount Type 2 and regulatory immune responses. In recent years it has become clear that how immune cells function is largely determined by their metabolic properties. By inhibiting or enhancing certain metabolic processes in immune cells associated with Type 2 or regulatory immune responses, Everts hopes to be able to direct these immune responses. This could hold promise as a new therapeutic strategy to treat inflammatory diseases in which this types of immune responses are not working properly anymore
Due to the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the annual BSPP scientific meeting will be canceled. We are currently looking into alternative meeting dates later during the year.
The Belgian Society for Parasitology & Protistology is holding its annual scientific meeting on the 20th of March 2020 at the University of Antwerp, city campus: “klooster van de Grauwzusters”. For more information about registration and abstract submission please visit the website here.
Infectious disease modeller Luc Coffeng of the Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam has been awarded the Boehringer-Ingelheim Award for his research on neglected tropical diseases. Coffeng works on mathematical models that inform public health policy in resource-limited settings, as well as the optimal design of field studies and clinical studies.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of tropical infectious diseases that affect over one billion people globally and are mostly prevalent among the poorest of the poor, among whom they perpetuate a cycle of disease and poverty. The research performed by Coffeng aims to inform public health policy on how NTDs can be best controlled or eliminated in resource-limited settings. For instance, his work on intestinal worm infections and visceral leishmaniasis has contributed toward the formulation of new World Health Organisation targets and guidelines for control of these infections by 2030.
Mathematical models of tropical infectious disease transmission
Coffeng has provided a significant contribution to the development of mathematical models that predict how interventions affect the transmission of tropical infectious diseases like intestinal worm infection and visceral leishmaniasis. In his models, Coffeng captures how parasites are transmitted between hosts via the environment or via insects, and how individuals participate in public health interventions. For instance, Coffeng predicted how a change from annual to six-monthly treatment of entire communities (regardless of an individual’s infection status) can lead to control and even elimination of river blindness. Coffeng’s model predictions aim to inform World Health Organisation policy and guidelines, as well as the design of field studies into the control of tropical infectious diseases.
In his current work, Coffeng aims to investigate how mass treatment may help to eliminate parasitic worm infections in resource-limited settings. Using mathematical models, he hopes to predict the impact of human mobility and evolution of drug resistance on prospects of elimination, and how achievement of elimination can be evaluated. In addition, Coffeng works on mathematical models for the optimal design of drug and vaccine trials for malaria and hookworm infection, in collaboration with Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen and Leiden University Medical Center. Ultimately, he hopes these activities will accelerate the control and elimination of tropical infectious diseases.
4th International Conference on Non Tsetse Transmitted Animal Trypanosomosis
COMBAR Training School
INTRODUCTION TO SOCIO-ECONOMICS OF HELMINTH INFECTIONS AND ANTHELMINTIC RESISTANCE IN RUMINANTS 21-23 NOVEMBER, BRUGES, BELGIUM
In this 3-day training school, participants will be introduced to principles and practices of research in socio-economic aspects of animal health management and of helminth infections and AR in particular. More info
The BSP 2019 Spring Meeting
The 2019 BSP Spring meeting is for the first time running as a joint event with the Belgian Society of Parasitology and Protistology and the Netherlands Society for Parasitology. Members from all three Societies will be able to benefit from reduced registration rates.
The meeting will have One Health as an embedded framework running through the four featured subject streams: Cell Biology, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Human Interventions, Ecology and Ecosystems and a workshop in Science Communication.
Visit the website at: https://www.myeventflo.com/event.asp?evID=2226