The third minicourse, “Host Parasite Interactions and Vector Biology”, was held September 3-15, 2006 in Caracas, Venezuela in Conjunction with the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC).


The objective of the 2006 minicourse was to better understand the host parasite interactions of vector borne parasitic diseases, and in particular, those which are relevant to public health problems in the region.  Prominent international scientists were invited to lecture in situ or by teleconference on different topics to illustrate the use of genetic tools, molecular epidemiology, bioinformatics, and geographical information systems (GIS) in the research of host-parasite-vector interactions.  Local scientists gave essential overviews of the epidemiology, pathology and therapeutic interventions as related to parasitic diseases (ex., Leishmaniasis, Chagas Disease and Malaria). The laboratory sections of the course were run through a joint effort of IVIC, the Institute of Advances Studies (IDEA) and the Central University of Venezuela (UCV). Methods covered included: application of molecular markers to diagnosis and detection of drug-resistant parasites, micro-array technology, real time PCR and confocal microscopy. Students also received computer training in bioinformatics and GIS as useful tools to understand the dynamic of parasitic diseases in a trip from genome to environment. 



In order to further promote North-South collaboration, the following scientists from the USA, UK, and Mexico concurred via videoconferences:  David Roos (University of Pennsylvania, USA); Fotis Kafatos (Imperial College, UK);  Rita Colwell (UMIACS, University of Maryland, USA); Stephen L. Hoffman (Sanaria Inc, USA), Tim Palmer (ECMWF, UK), and Edmundo Calva (UNAM, Mexico).


The students will be taking the knowledge and contacts acquired during this minicourse back to the following countries of origin: Colombia (3), Cuba (1), Dominica (1), Guatemala (1), Panama (1), Trinidad and Tobago (2), and Venezuela (6).  Most were PhD students or active researchers in the field of Parasitology. The overall feedback on the course has been very positive both regarding the lectures and laboratory activities.  As follow-up to the minicourse, we will encourage students and faculty to maintain the network created during the two-week workshop so that future collaborations can be developed.