Epidemiologists Meet in Puerto Rico to Discuss Zika
SAN JUAN – A leading group of world-class epidemiologists, specializing in tropical diseases, met in Puerto Rico to discuss solutions to speed up diagnoses and identify mechanisms and treatments for diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya as part of a collaborative effort of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust with the University of Georgia.
“At a time when the World Health Organization [WHO] has declared a global emergency due to Zika, 16 specialists participated in two-day workshops on the island, in an event organized under the Puerto Rico Brain Trust for Tropical Diseases Research & Prevention, an initiative of the Trust,” its chief executive, Lucy Crespo, stated.
The effort is led by Dr. José Cordero, Patel distinguished professor of public health, department head and professor of epidemiology at the University of Georgia.
“This group will present research and carry out initiatives to identify new data and mechanisms, devices, and methods for expediting the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these diseases,” Crespo said.
She explained further that “the panel’s participants were selected to include specialists from all over the world, experts in emerging diseases, diagnostic mechanisms, vaccine development, biochemistry and laboratory tests, together with local experts in similar areas and in the biomedical industry.”
Among the attendees, were Ignacio Pino, president of DVM and founder of CDi Laboratories; Dr. Emma Fernández Repollet, principal investigator of the Center for Collaborative Research in Health Disparities; Iván Lugo, executive director of Universidad Industrial’s (INDUNIV) research center; and Jorge L. Muñoz Jordan, head of the Molecular Diagnostics and Research Laboratory.
The panel also included Stephen Waterman, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dengue Branch of Puerto Rico; leptospirosis expert Renee Galloway, of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonic Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Frank Mandy, a consultant to the International Centre for Infectious Diseases Inc. of Canada.
“Our mission is to be the meeting point for scientists of international caliber and show that Puerto Rico is home to innovation and technology. We are the platform with the resources to conduct research that benefits all mankind,” Crespo stressed.