Fusing disease research

Published: April 20th, 2010

Category: InsideUF, Voices Column

“So you do research on diseases – when did you become a medical doctor?” is a question I regularly hear. I’m actually a geographer. In the past, medical doctors were nearly the only ones doing disease research, but recently things have been changing. Today, disease-related research projects need skills that are found across campus.

This was illustrated by a recent project exploring malaria elimination on Zanzibar. We needed medical doctors and biologists to obtain malaria and mosquito data, geographers and statisticians to map disease risk, climatologists to address seasonal risk, sociologists to help quantify human travel, mathematicians and computer scientists to model malaria transmission, economists to estimate the costs of eliminating malaria, and lawyers to explore plan implementation.

Just a snapshot of the skills needed, this shows why UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute (www.epi.ufl.edu) has been established. By fusing disciplines, EPI will develop outreach, education and research capabilities designed to preserve Florida’s health and economy, and to prevent or contain new and re-emerging diseases.

Andrew Tatem
Assistant Professor
Emerging Pathogens Institute,
Department of Geography

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