Emerging, Infectious and Neglected Diseases

The research program of Emerging, Infectious and Neglected Diseases aims to contemplate the development and internationalization of research focused on the needs of patients and the development of tools for prevention (vaccines), diagnostics (methodology), treatment (Drug development) and patient monitoring (infection control). These processes are carried out by our University, particularly the postgraduate programs in Microbiology and Immunology (concept 7), infectious (concept 5), Ophthalmology (concept 6) and nursing (concept e 5) and through various international collaborations and encompass researchers from different areas (Basic, Applied and clinical). The research currently developed in our institution in the area of infectious diseases encompasses studies ranging from basic biology to pathological aspects and patient management, in viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. In this respect, international collaborations are important for the transfer of new technologies and the sharing of epidemiological information Diseases. This thematic It also offers countless possibilities to form and consolidate collaborative networks between the Unifesp and several universities and international companies. We intend within the internationalization project to promote this congregation of efforts and to create locally a high-level environment of research and teaching to attend the specific goals within the concept of internationalization.

Research Lines

  • Pathogenic mechanisms of infectious agents

There are already within our graduate programs of excellence groups that seek to understand the mechanisms involved in the development of infections caused by microorganisms. The programs involve studies of morphological characterization, biochemistry, cellular of infectious agents up to the mechanisms of response and adaptation in human host. In addition, there is a major focus on the clinical aspects of these pathologies enabling us to correlate the clinical data with the virulence mechanisms. In this way, the objective this project will be to congregate the different research groups on platforms that characterize virulence determinants by identifying clones, or isolated highly virulent strains disseminated in Brazilian hospitals linked to our University. These clones will be characterized by large-scale sequencing, today applied to many micro-organisms. The obtaining of these lineages will be made in a multicentric way, enabling a continuous interaction with international centres. In this sense, the missions, exchanges and internships will allow us to consolidate these interactions.

  • Drug resistance and new medicines

The availability of treatments against infectious diseases is very limited in the case of neglected and emerging diseases and microbial resistance also represents an important public health problem in Brazilian hospitals. Although most of the population depends on the public health system, a growing fraction of people is assisted by private institutions, reflecting on different practices of health care and prevention of control of healthcare- related infections. As a result, the absence of treatments and different standards of antimicrobial resistance may arise, or already exist in the country. In this project, several groups of graduate programs have been working with agents pathogenic such as protozoa, viruses, bacteria and fungi through existing international collaborations. The project will allow us to create internal collaborations and consolidate them as a network of international institutions. In addition, access to different patient cuts will serve to attract international groups, making it possible to provide better local training in both the basic and health- related areas.

  • Development and diagnostic applications for infectious diseases

The diagnosis for infectious diseases mainly caused by emerging or neglected infections, that is, those that affect mainly developing countries like Brazil, are not yet adequately established. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world in the area and population with more than 192 million of people. The country has heterogeneous demographic distribution and it has been submitted to rapid economic, social and environmental changes. Despite the reductions pronounced in the number of deaths from infectious diseases, mainly due to HIV infections and tropical diseases in the last six decades, the resurgence of diseases such as dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, and more recently, yellow fever has been observed. The impact of parasitic diseases, such as Leishmania, Chagas disease and Malaria is also increased. In the area of diagnosis numerous limitations and difficulties that comes from local variability, difficulty of collecting and processing samples and interpretation of results are still prevalent. It is also precarious the prognosis, after identification of the agent and during the treatment. Several research lines at UNIFESP Focus on infectious agents, such as virus studies (HIV, Dengue, Zika, Influenza), bacteria, pathogenic fungi, and parasitic protozoa. There is great potential for attracting international groups for the establishment of new diagnostic and prognosis techniques, many already made in international networks. This project seeks to create an environment of information sharing and diagnostic technologies from the characterization of antigens to the use of new molecular tests contributing to fill this important gap in the health area. Our goal will also be strengthening and internationalizing the research line related to infection among nursing researchers. In this way, this project will focus on epidemiological analyses, description of risk factors and prevention and the activities of the nurse professionals in centers of high complexity, hospital surveillance, environmental community, schools and vulnerable and special populations.

Partner countries: Canada; Israel; United States of America; Italy; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Australia; Spain; Argentina; United Kingdom; Germany.

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Sergio Schenkman