04/21/2008 07:00:00

Africa's Greatest Health Dangers to be Addressed at Caltech May 3

PASADENA, Calif.--As conventional means fail to conquer Africa's deadliest diseases-- HIV and malaria--researchers are starting to look outside the box. One solution might be Nobelist David Baltimore's novel approach to combating HIV through gene therapy. He will give the headlining lecture at the Symposium on African Health at the California Institute of Technology May 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Ramo Auditorium on the Caltech campus in Pasadena. Admission is free.

The symposium is sponsored by the GEANCO Foundation, a Chicago- and Los Angeles-based nonprofit that designs, develops, and manages medical and educational facilities in Nigeria. It will feature prominent scientists discussing cutting-edge research on HIV/AIDS and malaria, Africa's two deadliest diseases. Doctors and nonprofit professionals working on the ground will also discuss their work. The symposium will provide a rare opportunity for the general public to gain a clearer understanding of Africa's greatest challenges and learn how to help the continent meet those challenges most effectively.

Speakers include Joel Breman, senior scientific adviser at the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, who will discuss the epidemiology of malaria; Bruce Hay, associate professor of biology at Caltech, who has developed a technique for engineering malaria-resistant mosquitoes; Martha Sedegah, senior scientist at the Naval Medical Research Center malaria program, who will discuss a new malaria vaccine; Huntington Hospital physician Kimberly Shriner, who will discuss her leadership of a community-based clinical effort to assist in the control of HIV/AIDS in Tanzania; Piya Sorcar, who will discuss online HIV/AIDS education in developing countries; and Afam Onyema, GEANCO Foundation chief operating officer, who will discuss his organization's hospital development project in Nigeria.

The symposium will be videotaped and will be offered online through a website specifically targeted to Africans. GEANCO will also host screenings in Nigeria.

"Part of our goal is to spread advanced medical and healthcare knowledge throughout Africa using all available means, including the Internet. This symposium is a wonderful opportunity to do just that," said Onyema.

"Permanent improvements in African healthcare must be driven by local doctors and other healthcare professionals," stated Chess Stetson, symposium coordinator, GEANCO advisory board member, and a PhD candidate at Caltech. "Providing medical students with world-class education resources online will incentivize them to stay in their native countries, where they are desperately needed."

The symposium is cosponsored by the Caltech Y and the Caltech Alumni Association. 

 

Written by Jill Perry