Responding to new pandemic threats and re-emerging vector borne and zoonotic diseases represents a significant challenge to conventional science and health practice. Few experts and training opportunities exist that cross disciplinary boundaries, combining principles and methods from different fields with the transdisciplinary skills required to address this challenge. The Emerging Zoonotic Diseases (EZD) Short Course helps fill this gap by training researchers, educators, and practitioners skilled at integrative research and intervention focused on EZD.
The EZD Short Course consists of a week-long intensive training in the basic theory and practice of emerging pandemic threats and emerging infectious diseases followed by a week of application-based workshops. The course focuses on causes and risk factors; control and mitigation measures; and development of curricula and associated integrated research and intervention programs that bridge disciplines, professions, and sectors.
The EZD Short Course curriculum draws on veterinary and medical science, microbiology, epidemiology, medical geography, disease ecology, environmental risk management, ecosystem management, conservation biology, among other fields. Participants will gain competence in basic concepts, theory and methods for responding to EZD threats. The course includes workshops and materials to support curriculum development.
Those who complete the short course will have gained a basic understanding of the scientific principles, research, teaching methods and materials applicable to four foundational topics and their molecular, microbiological, ecological and social dimensions: (1) the process of disease emergence; (2) disease emergence drivers and underlying mechanisms; (3) integrative research and intervention methods, models, and experimental/intervention design; and (4) disease emergence risk assessment.
The EZD Short Course will provide the first step toward the integration of the above topics within existing curricula, and establishment of new courses and curricula. The resulting programs will provide the knowledge and skills essential for development of: (1) rational approaches to pathogen detection in wildlife and associated human outbreak risk characterization; (2) multidisciplinary/multi-sectoral projects that address public health objectives; (3) sustainable country-level response capacity; and (4) governance, public policy, and interventions targeting population and ecosystems at risk pathogen emergence.
COURSE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT
The first week of the course will consist of lectures (morning) and group exercises aimed at providing trainees with a solid grasp of fundamental concepts, principles, and terminology. The afternoon sessions will be structured as group learning, with small group scenario discussions led by tutors.
- Day 1: Framing the Problem of Disease Emergence – Overview of emerging zoonotic diseases, factors influencing transmission dynamics, and epidemiological patterns.
- Day 2: Disease Ecology I – Ecology and evolution of host-parasite relationships, host and vector population biology.
- Day 3: Disease Ecology II – Ecological and evolutionary principles of transmission dynamics (from the molecular to ecosystem level).
- Day 4: Disease Ecology III – Compartmental (SIR) models, spatial epidemiology, role of ecosystem change and biodiversity in pathogen emergence.
- Day 5: Ecosystem Approach – Social ecological systems and resilience, ecosystem management and participatory approaches.
A one and one-half day disease field ecology study trip will be conducted on October 1-2. During the trip participants will travel across a landscape gradient from urban to natural forest, stopping at sites representing different disease/pathogen transmission ‘ecosystems’. Participants will participate in ‘disease emergence habitat assessment’ exercises. Lectures, group exercises, and discussions will be carried out at meeting and accommodation facilities on the edge of Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Nayok Province, Thailand (a 2.5 hour drive from Bangkok).
The second week of the course will focus on application of ‘one health’ approaches to the problem of emerging zoonotic diseases. Morning plenary lectures will include example case studies highlighting different diseases and contexts. Parallel 2-3 day workshops will be held in the afternoons. Students will have the option to participate in at least 2 different workshops.
- Science Education and Curriculum Development: Teaching Methods and Materials and Program Development.
- Emerging Pandemic Threat/Emerging Infectious Disease Risk: Modeling, Analysis, and Assessment.
- Community Participatory Research: Applications to Emerging Zoonotic Disease Control.
- Climate Change Adaptation and Emerging Zoonotic Diseases.