Infectious Diseases in the 21st Century
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that infectious disease is responsible for 25% of all deaths worldwide and that this number is likely to be even larger if certain cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory/digestive deaths, which can also be attributed to infection, are included. Interestingly, six diseases account for 90% of infectious disease deaths, and include acute respiratory infections (including pneumonia and influenza), AIDS and AIDS-associated disease, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, malaria and measles.
To curb this growing global problem, further elucidation of host-pathogen interactions is absolutely needed to better design therapeutics and vaccines to prevent morbidity and mortality from existing and newly emerging infectious agents. Commensurate with this need is the absolute requirement for an animal model that parallels and shares developmental, physiological and evolutionary relationships with humans, and are susceptible to
the same or closely related infectious agents with similar, if not identical sequelae.
Addressing this challenge is the goal for the scientists within the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology (DPI), which is home to a team of outstanding virologists, immunologists and pathologists, who are imbued with a team ethic and a commitment to nonhuman primate (NHP) models. The fundamental theme is that progress in these areas of investigation requires high level expertise and experience in virology, immunology and pathology, a combination that is rarely found in a single investigator, but that would be provided by a close-knit collaborative environment
in which scientists encompassing these disciplines could interact on a daily basis. Furthermore,
it was felt that NHP models would be an essential element of any truly clinically relevant investigations in these areas.