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Tuberculous Meningitis International Meeting held in Dalat, Vietnam


TBM meeting

Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is the worst form of tuberculosis with a substantial associated mortality. To present and discuss recent advances in TBM research, an international TBM meeting took place at the Dalat Edensee Lake Resort and Spa in Vietnam, 20-22 May 2015.  The meeting was jointly hosted by CIDRI (conveners Robert J Wilkinson and Suzaan Marais) and the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (conveners Guy Thwaites and Doortje Heemskerk) and attended by 52 TBM researchers from 10 countries. Topics of sessions during the 2 days included TBM pathogenesis, diagnostics, clinical management, anti-TB drug treatment and adjunctive TBM therapy. Following presentations by both experts and young researchers in the field, main sessions were concluded with brainstorming sessions during which future directions of research were discussed. A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of unpublished findings of a large TBM treatment trial that was recently completed in Vietnam. At the end of the meeting participants expressed their appreciation for the high quality of scientific content presented and their enthusiasm for similar TBM meetings to be held in future.


CIDRI Imperial College Summer School


CIDRI summer school


For the novice academic, research and all its trappings can prove both exhilarating and daunting. Embarking on a career in research requires not only, personal motivation and support from supervisors but also, knowledge on how to navigate the varying aspects of the PhD experience. In recognition of this, the Imperial - UCT Global Health Fellows Programme was created to cover the key professional skills needed by early stage PhD researchers to improve both their personal and research effectiveness.

This weeklong summer school, hosted on upper campus in late January, is a collaboration and capacity development project run by Imperial College, London, and UCT, via its Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative. The initiative fosters greater consciousness of global health research and prepares PhD students (representing multiple countries at the summer school) for world-class, international collaboration.

As such, much of the week saw the students learning new skills in the areas of effective and creative teamwork, communication in diverse groups, intercultural and international awareness.

Activities culminated in group project proposals, from which judges drawn from senior researchers involved in the programme chose three finalists.

The judging panel harnessed the "assembled wisdom" of Professors Tumani Corrah (director of Africa Research Development at the UK MRC, based in Gambia), Kathryn Maitland (Paediatric Infectious Diseases at Imperial College, based at the Kenya Medical Research Institute), Robert Wilkinson (director of UCT's Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative, and Imperial College London), Prof Tania Douglas, and Dr Hanif Esmail (Oxford/Imperial/UCT).

The winning project proposal described a new pump to easily administer an inhaled drug for treating and controlling lung injury and loss of function caused by TB. The project harnessed three parallel drug development branches, combined in one product to expedite drug delivery.

Team members Tim Ellis, Joana Alçada and Ashley Jacobs are attached to Imperial College. Jacobs is also a UCT health sciences graduate, one of several among the fellows. Commenting on his experience Ashley Jacobs said, "There was such a great wealth of diversity in terms of backgrounds and budding expertise, and this made for a stimulating learning environment. I think one of the highlights for me was the sessions focussed on communication and collaboration, as this is an under-appreciated but crucial skill-set in research."

In keeping with the objectives of collaboration, combining the research interests of each group member was a prerequisite for the project proposals.

This benefited participants in that it highlighted "the dynamics between nations of the North and the South, in collaboration efforts to address key diseases such as Tuberculosis, HIV and Malaria. Through bringing students together from around the world, it was possible to address the issue of collaboration balance on an enjoyable and informal basis, ultimately with the hope of forming relationships that would facilitate collaboration in the future" said Tim Ellis.

The programme ended on a high note, amid a general sense that it had succeeded in cultivating academic awareness while sowing the seeds of collaboration and friendship.

Photo by Katherine Traut  ~  Text from the FHS Newsletter 1st Quarter 2015