Close to 20 years ago, I was contacted by an Australian woman who was planning to map the locations of genes that are X-linked in humans in some odd Australian critters, the monotremes. These animals comprise a distantly related branch of mammals that have hair and lactate, but additionally lay eggs. She wanted a probe from our lab, and, in exchange, little vials of DNA from spiny echidna and platypus appeared in the mail. Our lab became enamoured of these singular animals, and we followed their scientific story with great interest. The lady was Jenny Graves [Image 1], and it has taken me this long to finally meet her.
Scientific meetings come in various flavors–from one-day focused workshops of 1-20 people to large-scale multiple-day meetings of 1,000 or more delegates, including keynotes, sessions, posters, social events, and so on. These ten rules are intended to provide insights into organizing meetings across the scale.
Computational biology is an international collaboration. Open scholarly exchange nurtures the development of our field. And scientists are not the only beneficiaries; international cooperation is a crucial part of any country’s diplomatic relations. Our community, by actively engaging governments, needs to promote scientific exchange.
In the United States, there is a largely hidden burden of diseases caused by a group of chronic and debilitating parasitic, bacterial, and congenital infections known as the neglected infections of poverty. Like their neglected tropical disease counterparts in developing countries, the neglected infections of poverty in the US disproportionately affect impoverished and under-represented minority populations. The major neglected infections include the helminth infections, toxocariasis, strongyloidiasis, ascariasis, and cysticercosis; the intestinal protozoan infection trichomoniasis; some zoonotic bacterial infections, including leptospirosis; the vector-borne infections Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, trench fever, and dengue fever; and the congenital infections cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasmosis, and syphilis. These diseases occur predominantly in people of color living in the Mississippi Delta and elsewhere in the American South, in disadvantaged urban areas, and in the US-Mexico borderlands, as well as in certain immigrant populations and disadvantaged white populations living in Appalachia. Preliminary disease burden estimates of the neglected infections of poverty indicate that tens of thousands, or in some cases, hundreds of thousands of poor Americans harbor these chronic infections, which represent some of the greatest health disparities in the United States. Specific policy recommendations include active surveillance (including newborn screening) to ascertain accurate population-based estimates of disease burden; epidemiological studies to determine the extent of autochthonous transmission of Chagas disease and other infections; mass or targeted treatments; vector control; and research and development for new control tools including improved diagnostics and accelerated development of a vaccine to prevent congenital CMV infection and congenital toxoplasmosis.