Notre Dame's Eck Institute for Global Health at Annual Tropical Medicine Conference

University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health faculty and students had a strong presence at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) in New Orleans, LA.

Nora Besansky, O’Hara Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was bestowed the prestigious honor of being named an ASTMH Fellow. Society Fellows are recognized for sustaining professional excellence in any phase of tropical medicine, hygiene, global health, or related disciplines. Besansky’s area of research focuses primarily on African mosquitoes that carry malaria. She is a senior faculty member who arrived at Notre Dame in 1997. Her research examines patterns of genetic variation across species, populations, and different regions of the mosquito genome. The common thread to this research is the question, “What makes a good vector?”

Notre Dame alumnus Bernard Nahlen, ’75, MD, now Deputy Coordinator of the President's Malaria Initiative for USAID of the Bureau of Global Health, Infectious Diseases and Nutrition, was recognized for his contribution to global health and named a Fellow as well.  Nahlen was recently on the Notre Dame campus to deliver the 2014 Paul P. Weinstein Memorial Lecture.


Eck Institute for Global Health faculty have leadership roles in two of the five ASTMH sub-committees. The Annual Meeting marks the end of Katherine Taylor’s year as President of the Committee on Global Health (ACGH) and the beginning of Nicole Achee’s year as President of the American Committee of Medical Entomology (ACME). Taylor is a Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and serves as the Director of Operations and Interim Director of Global Health Training for the Eck Institute for Global Health. Achee, an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, focuses on vector behavior related to the epidemiology and control of arthropod-borne diseases. She is co-principal investigator of a large multi-national research program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focused on spatial repellents.

Two members of the Eck Institute for Global Health presented a symposium titled, “Are Short-Term Fieldwork Placements Feasible and Ethical in Global Health Education? A Debate and Discussion among Global Health Master of Science Programs, Students and Partners from the Field.” Representing the University of Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health program were Lacey Haussamen, Assistant Director of Global Health Training, and Ashley Scott, Assistant Program Director for the Eck Institute for Global Health. This special session was designed to look at curricula in the relatively newly defined field of Global Health.

“Our Master of Science in Global Health program has been a flagship in global health training for the past couple of years,” states Katherine Taylor. “We are excited to share our experiences with colleagues around the world who are also developing programs or are in the midst of their own journey of discovery in the milieu of developing curricula.”

Numerous Notre Dame student research projects were accepted into the highly competitive poster sessions and scientific sessions. Included as lead authors were Macy Brusich, Katrina Button-Simons, James Carter, Michael Clark, Diego Echeverri-Garcia, Matthew Eng, Gloria Giraldo-Calderon, Elizabeth Heilmann, Matthew Leming, Sarah Lukens, Benjamin Mayala, Keshava Mysore, Brianna Norris-Mullins, Nicholas Myers, Aaron Sheppard, Brajendra Singh, Hilary Smith, Gwyneth Sullivan, Kimbra Turner, Paola Vacchina, and Abigail Weaver.

VectorBase, the National Institute of Allergy Infectious Diseases Bioinformatics Resource Center dedicated to providing data for the scientific community for Invertebrate Vectors of Human Pathogens, which is housed at Notre Dame, was well represented at the conference with a two day workshop before the conference started. VectorBase provides an e-forum for the discussion and distribution of news and information as well as tools to facilitate the querying and analysis of arthropod genome data sets present at the site.


The Eck Institute for Global Health hosted their second annual “Rally with Notre Dame for Global Health” with over 75 attending the networking social event. “This annual event is a great way to bring Notre Dame faculty, past and present, together with our many, many alumni and friends in the field of tropical medicine and research,” states David Severson, Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Institute. “The connection to Notre Dame and ongoing commitment is like no other. This annual gathering continues to strengthen this unique Notre Dame science bond and highlights our ongoing leadership in this field.”

The ASTMH, founded in 1903, is a worldwide organization of scientists, clinicians, and program professionals whose mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor. Research, health care, and education are the central activities of ASTMH members, whose work bridges basic laboratory research to international fieldwork and clinics to countrywide programs.

ASTMH has over 4,000 members, located in 113 countries. Overall, Notre Dame has a strong presence within the society as reflected by numerous posters, presentations, and symposia from 34 faculty and students who were in attendance from campus. 

Specific ASTMH goals include: Improving the health of people worldwide; Advancing research in tropical diseases; Fostering international scientific collaboration; Supporting career development in tropical medicine and global health; Educating medical professionals, policymakers and the public about tropical medicine and global health; Promoting science-based policy regarding tropical medicine and global health; Recognizing exceptional achievement in tropical medicine and global health.

The Eck Institute for Global Health recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, and service to advance health standards for all people, especially people in low-and middle-income countries, who are disproportionately impacted by preventable diseases.

Photo Captions: 

Enjoying the 'Rally with Notre Dame for Global Health' event at the ASTMH conference are ND Professor Michael Ferdig and Jennifer Schneider, who received her PhD in 2006 under David Severson, Director, EIGH. Schneider is principal partner in Tiber Creek Partners in Washington, DC. 

EIGH Director of Operations (Rt) Katherine Taylor poses with Doyin Oluwole, MD, MRCP, FWACP, FRCP (Pediatrics), founding Executive Director of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon at the George W. Bush Institute after Oluwole's presentation at the ACGH Symposium.