ASM Conducts Regional Minicourse on Infectious Disease in Mexico


The first minicourse of the three-year Caribbean Basin Research and Training Network on Infectious Diseases program was held November 8-19th, 2004 in Cuernavaca, Mexico at the Instituto de Biotecnología of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).  The course was titled Genetics, Genomics and Epidemiology of Infectious Disease: Bacterial Agents, and was made possible by a grant from the Ellison Medical Foundation.  The Mexican Association of Microbiology also contributed financial, technical, and administrative support.  Twenty-three students from eight countries participated in the course.  The faculty consisted of a team of three US and three Mexican scientists and educators.  Edmundo Calva, Instituto de Biotecnología,  UNAM, Cuernavaca, Mexico, and Stanley Maloy, Center for Microbial Sciences, San Diego State U., were the course organizers. Joining them were Linda Kenney, U. of Illinois, Chicago; José Luis Puente, Instituto de Biotecnología, UNAM; Robert Edwards, San Diego State U.; and Juan Calva, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición, Mexico City.  The goal of the course was to illustrate how the integration of genetics, genomics and epidemiology, provides powerful conceptual and experimental tools to better understand infectious disease.  The lectures encompassed a detailed  overview on Salmonella, as a model for the study of bacterial pathogenesis and virulence gene regulation, and to illustrate the use of genetic tools and bioinformatics in pathogen research. In addition, basic concepts in epidemiology were revised and their relevance towards research in bacterial pathogenesis was emphasized, by the critical appraisal of selected literature. The relevance of genomics towards the study of pathogen diversity, detection and diagnosis was discussed. The course also included a hands-on laboratory section, where genetic fingerprinting and experiments on the molecular genetics of virulence determinants in Salmonella were performed. The course was intended to offer a solid base for all students, regardless of the infectious agent that will pertain to their research project.


The course met daily, with lecture and lab experiments that began in the morning and continued through the evening, with scientific discussions continuing during meals and coffee breaks. The setting on a mountainside forest, the rapport among the faculty , and the intense energy of the students, who will undoubtedly constitute a promising new generation of investigators in the region, contributed to a relaxed yet thorough exchange of ideas.


Course evaluations completed by the students were unanimously excellent; all felt that they had learned important concepts and techniques that would assist them in their research projects.  ASM will be awarding three travel grants to course participants to develop joint research proposals that follow from their work in Cuernavaca.


The Caribbean Basin Research and Training Network on Infectious Diseases program was launched in 2004.The three-year initiative, supported by the Ellison Medical Foundation, is intended to contribute to the fight against infectious disease in the Americas by training a select group of young scientists from the region in state of the art technical and theoretical approaches to infectious diseases, and providing them the opportunity to develop collaborative relationships both with each other and with US colleagues.  The program has three main goals:  1) Develop a cadre of outstanding young scientists in infectious disease research throughout the Caribbean Basin region; 2) Create a virtual network dedicated to addressing infectious disease issues of the Caribbean Basin region; and 3) Promote North-South collaboration in infectious disease training and research.  The next minicourse, to be organized in conjunction with the University of San Jose in Costa Rica, is entitled Tools to Unravel Viral Dynamics in the Caribbean Basin, and will be held from July 18th – 30th, 2005.   




Faculty and participants of Genetics, Genomics, an Epidemiology of Infectious Disease: Bacterial Agents.