Genetic Determinants of Two neglected tropical diseases (TrypanoGEN+)
Prof Enock Matovu is the Associate Professor at Makerere University in Uganda. He obtained his PhD in molecular parasitology from the University of Bern in Switzerland in 2001. He then returned to the Livestock Research Institute and continued work as a Research Officer. In 2004, Enock relocated to Makerere University and set up a vibrant research group, training graduates to post-doctoral level. Over time, he has acquired considerable experience in Human African Trypanosomiasis, including surveillance, diagnostics, drug resistance and clinical trials. In 2008, as a marker of esteem, Enock received the prestigious Royal Society Pfizer Award in recognition of his work on molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in African trypanosomes. The previous year (2007) he had obtained the Joint Third World Academy of Science Award for Young Scientists, for his contribution to molecular parasitology. He has served on various international committees in the course of his work. He is a current member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Trypanosomiasis as well as Associate Editor for PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
The over-arching aim of this network is to improve the health of people living in some of the poorest countries in the world that carry a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases. Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) and schistosomiasis are two neglected tropical diseases that claim the lives of thousands of people in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. They are two of the most important of the neglected tropical diseases. The World Health Organization has listed both diseases for elimination, but the current control strategies are inhibited by failure to target and treat some of the people that maintain the reservoir of infection thereby maintaining transmission. The aim of this project is to apply the latest advances in genomics to genetically identify these people and understand their differential response to infection. In the process, the next generation of African scientists in population genetics and genomics shall be trained.
TrypanoGEN+ research strategy will exploit the fact that some people are naturally able to control or even eliminate the parasites that cause the disease whilst others cannot. By comparing the genomes in resistant and susceptible people, genes and molecular pathways that are crucial in controlling disease progression will be identified. Identifying populations whose genetic disposition favours disease tolerance or hypersensitivity can be of value for national control programs to prioritise areas for immediate interventions. This will facilitate formulation of informed strategies for cost effective control measures.