Why is infection unequal? : An inter-disciplinary approach.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Biological Sciences


In the developing world, people are commonly infected with a wide range of infections. These include worms in their guts, single celled parasites in their blood, as well as bacterial and virus infections. In the developing world, this burden of infection causes ill health; a large part of the poorer health and shorter lifespan of those in the developing world is due to these infections. People differ in the infections that they have: we want to know why this is the case. The work that we are proposing to develop will therefore try and work out what causes different people to have different infections. The study that we aim to undertake will, for the first time, look at all types of infections at once. To do this we need to establish a team of experts with different, yet complementary, expertise. In the first step that we are prosing now, we will assemble this team of experts. We will then plan in detail how and where we will undertake this study.

Technical Summary

Infectious diseases are a major contributor to ill health in the developing world. In the developing world people are typically infected with worms and protozoa as well as viruses and bacteria.

The overall aim of the work that we are proposing is to use an inter-disciplinary, system-wide approach to investigate the cause of the unequal distribution of infection in communities in the tropical developing world. We will do this using an inter-disciplinary, system-wide approach in which the full infection status, and the ecological, genetic and sociological setting of all individuals will be determined, from which the cause(s) of infection will be statistically partitioned. There are three particularly notable features of our approach: that we will consider the total infectious disease burden; that we will use a within-host ecology approach to co-infections, and that we will examine immediate extrinsic factors including socio-economic and environmental.

This inter-disciplinary, system-wide approach will be undertaken with funding from an ESEI Research Consortia Grant. To develop this proposed study this Catalyst Grant application proposes to establish an inter-disciplinary research team, to identify study site(s), to design and refine the proposed study, to apply for an ESEI Research Consortia Grant before, ultimately, doing the study.


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