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Strengthening transdisciplinary research on infectious and emerging diseases in French Guiana: linking fieldwork, benchside and bedside

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Better medical research to improve health in French Guiana

An initiative that expanded French Guiana's research capacity in infectious diseases should reduce the Amazonian country's disease burden while boosting employment in this scientific field.

Health

French Guiana is the sole EU outermost region in South America. Rapid population expansion and ecological pressures like deforestation have combined to create a hotspot of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue fever and other arboviral diseases. Supported by EU funding, the STRONGER (Strengthening transdisciplinary research on infectious and emerging diseases in French Guiana: Linking fieldwork, benchside and bedside) initiative addressed these health risks by strengthening research infrastructure, human resources and international collaboration. The project employed eight new researchers, an engineer in bioinformatics and a clinical research assistant to work on various research topics. Team members established 21 new research projects, to which local authorities responded by budgeting for 35 postdoctoral researchers within the next seven years. In addition, the university in French Guiana pledged to take on 24 new research lecturers over the next few years. STRONGER improved French Guiana's research infrastructure by extending and upgrading three research laboratories for studying different aspects of infectious diseases. The team also built a biosafety level 3 laboratory to study insects that transmit infectious diseases like malaria and arboviral diseases. French Guiana's improved research capacity will help scientists to diagnose and monitor current and emerging pathogens, leading to better treatment and disease management. It will also boost strategies designed to prevent insects transmitting infectious diseases, and to avoid pathogens or their hosts developing resistance to drugs or insecticides.

Keywords

Health, French Guiana, infectious diseases, research infrastructure

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