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


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Steven Zeichner

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Steven Zeichner is the McLemore Birdsong Professor of Pediatrics, Head of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and Director of the Pendleton Pediatric Infectious Disease Laboratory, School of Medicine. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology. A board certified pediatric infectious disease physician, Dr. Zeichner has conducted globally important clinical and basic research related to infectious diseases. In his clinical research, Dr. Zeichner participated in and was the principal investigator for phase 1 studies of new antiretroviral agents in children. He was the lead editor for the Textbook of Pediatric HIV Care and the Handbook of Pediatric HIV Care. In his basic research Dr. Zeichner conducted important research on the molecular genetics of HIV and herpesviruses, including Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus (KSHV). His current research projects involve developing innovative technologies to distinguish highly immunogenic from less immunogenic antigens, which would be useful for vaccine development, including prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases and therapeutic cancer vaccines. Dr. Zeichner has projects that aim to develop new, low cost recombinant bacterial vaccines for HIV prophylaxis and therapeutic cancer vaccines that would be especially appropriate for low income country settings. He has active collaborations with investigators at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, and the South Africa Medical Research Council to develop a therapeutic vaccine for Burkitt lymphoma (BL), which is linked to Epstein-Barr Virus and malaria infections in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Zeichner is also working with investigators at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and the epidemiology unit of Médicins Sans Frontieres, Epicentre, based at MUST to define and improve BL diagnosis and therapeutics.

Jianhui Zhou

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Jianhui Zhou is an Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics in the College of Arts & Sciences. His research focuses on statistical modeling of data from health studies. Specifically, Dr. Zhou developed statistical methods for longitudinal and functional data, and applied them to modeling growth curves collected from a cohort of children in a developing country who were at risk of malnutrition and infectious diseases. The developed methods help to identify children with growth faltering at early stage and select the associated risk factors, and facilitate timely medical interventions to improve the health of children at the risk of infectious diseases.

Jarrett Zigon

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Jarrett Zigon is the William and Linda Porterfield Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Anthropology in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Director of the Bioethics Program. My research has primarily focused on questioning the moral and political assumptions of medical and therapeutic interventions in contexts of global infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, in particular related to drug use. In these contexts I have addressed such issues as the unintended non-health related consequences of the discourses of rights and responsibility, and drug user political activism. In doing so, I have pursued my interests in the anthropology of moralities and ethics; political activity and theory; the intersection of anthropology and philosophy; and the drug war. These interests are taken up from the perspective of an anthropology strongly influenced by post-Heideggerian continental philosophy and critical theory, the theoretical articulation of which I name critical hermeneutics. My research projects in Russia have included ethnographically examining Russian Orthodox Church drug rehabilitation programs as spaces for moral training, and life-historical research on moral experience in times of post-Soviet social and political change. For the last decade, I have been conducting research with the globally networked anti-drug war movement, in an attempt to rethink some of our most closely held ethical and political assumptions and conceptualizations. Much of this research was funded by Dutch Science Foundation and European Research Council (ERC) grants to study the unintended consequences of using the language of rights and responsibility in HIV-intervention contexts. I have authored several books: Morality: An Anthropological Perspective (2008), Making the New Post-Soviet Person: Narratives of Moral Experience in Contemporary Moscow (2010), and HIV is God’s Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia (2011). My latest book, Disappointment: Toward a Critical Hermeneutics of Worldbuilding (2018), addresses the ethical, political and ontological grounds of the disappointment many feel today, offering an alternative vision of what a future could be and how to achieve it. A forthcoming book in 2019 entitled A War on People is an ethnographically-grounded theoretical exploration of the exclusionary violence of the drug war, and the political activity of active drug users fighting against this war and creating new, more human, ways of living together in communities of care.

Jochen Zimmer

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Jochen Zimmer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics. His research interests focus on how cells communicate with their environment, in particular how biological polymers, such as polypeptides and polysaccharides, are transported across biological membranes. Biopolymers are essential for life and many bacterial pathogens secrete proteinaceous virulence factors and complex carbohydrates crucial for pathogenicity. Examples include capsule and biofilm formation in Neisseria meningitides and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, respectively, and pore-forming toxin secretion in hemorrhagic E. coli as well as Bacillus anthracis. Determining the molecular mechanisms underlying biopolymer secretion requires a multipronged approach, which the Zimmer lab accomplishes by combing biochemical and molecular and structural biology techniques. As a general approach, they seek to reconstitute polymer translocation processes in vitro from purified components and to determine the 3-dimensional structures of the required transporters at different states during the transport cycle. The Zimmer lab is currently extending this research toward bacterial ABC-transporter mediated toxin and capsular polysaccharide secretion.