30 May 2012
Researcher shares $2m parasite funding
Researchers from RMIT University and Yale University in the US have jointly been awarded more than $2 million to help fight a malaria-like parasite.
RMIT's Dr Stephen Davis, Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, and Professor Maria Duik-Wasser, from Yale, have been awarded the funding from the US National Science Foundation and the US National Institute of Health.
Dr Davis said the grants would fund interaction between mathematical modelling and field work on the emerging tick-borne zoonosis known as Babesiosis.
He said this was a malaria-like parasite that was transmitted from wildlife carriers to humans via a tick bite.
"It is presently the most commonly acquired infection via blood transfusion in the United States," Dr Davis said.
"While it can produce malaria-like symptoms with fevers up to 40.5C it is mostly only a real concern for people with immunodeficiency or those who have had their spleen removed.
"We had a breakthrough with calculating the basic reproduction number for tick-borne pathogens a few years ago.
"It's fantastic to see it lead to this sort of collaboration and funding," Dr Davis said.
Dr Davis has 10 years' research experience in theoretical and applied epidemiology.
He has worked on several specific disease systems - sylvatic plague (Yersinia pestis infection in wild animals) in Kazakhstan, bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis infection in humans arising from a flea bite) in Tanzania, Lyme disease in North America, African sleeping sickness in Uganda, the sylvatic cycle of Echinococcus multilocularis in Europe and rabies in Tanzania.
Dr Stephen Davis.