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Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases by Supporting Trans-Disciplinary Academic Research


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James Nataro

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James Nataro is a Professor and Chair of Pediatrics. His laboratory has a 26-year history of work in global infectious diseases research. The major emphasis of the lab has been enteric bacterial infections, including diarrhea-causing E. coli and Shigella, molecular diagnostic methodologies, population genetics, and vaccine development. The Nataro laboratory has discovered a large number of virulence factors present in diarrhea-causing E. coli and other gram-negative bacteria, and has, for over two decades, worked to elucidate the structure, function, prevalence, and roles of these factors. In addition, the Nataro lab has worked at field sites in the developing world to understand the burden and etiology of diarrheal diseases in the most impoverished settings and the best means by which to control these important disorders. More recently, the Nataro lab has addressed the role of the intestinal microbiota in health and disease among children in Africa and South Asia. In the course of this work, the Nataro lab has developed deep and long-standing collaborations with investigators in the Gambia, Mali, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. These collaborations include capacity building and training of scientists from these countries in the Nataro laboratory. The work on enteric bacteria has generated important byproducts, including vaccines for agents of potential biological attack and engineered probiotics to improve intestinal health.

Amanda Nguyen

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Amanda Nguyen is an Assistant Professor in the Curry School of Education with a public health background and expertise in global mental health. Her research takes a partnership-based approach to improve the health and wellbeing of young people growing up in low-resource settings, leveraging both qualitative and quantitative methods to examine risk and protective factors, identify and describe psychosocial problems, validate assessment instruments, and evaluate interventions.  With a primary focus on mental health, Amanda’s work intersects with infectious disease research through considerations of how poor mental health may increase risk of physical health problems due to impaired functioning, as well as how physical health problems may negatively impact mental health and wellbeing.  She is also interested in how various health and mental health problems may be perceived differently across cultures and contexts, with implications for accurate assessment.  Recent work has included examining patterns of post-natal distress symptoms in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam, understanding maternal perspectives on mental health priorities and help-seeking behaviors in Uganda, and exploring the impacts of peer victimization cross-culturally.  Amanda is currently collaborating on multiple research initiatives including scientific evaluation of psychosocial programs in humanitarian settings, accurate assessment of depression in areas with high physical comorbidities, risk and resiliency among conflict affected youth, and interventions to prevent behavior problems among indicated youth.