A New Approach to Conquering Infectious Diseases
At the beginning of the 20th century, infectious diseases accounted for one third of all deaths worldwide. In North America, improved standards of hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition, coupled with significant advances in the development of effective drug therapy, led health authorities to declare victory over most infectious diseases. However, particularly over the past five decades, the overuse of antimicrobial drugs, as well as major changes in society and the environment, have caused some infectious diseases to reappear and new diseases, such as SARS, to emerge. Questions related to their origins and treatments require a speedy response.
Relatively little attention has been paid to the relationship between the host immune system and the emergence of fungal diseases. As the Canada Research Chair in Host Resistance to Fungal Pathogens, Dr. Salman Qureshi is taking a novel approach to the study of an important class of fungal pathogens, which will involve researchers in the areas of genetics, genomics, microbiology, and immunology. The question of the genetic basis of host resistance to emerging and re-emerging fungal pathogens is one that needs to be addressed with greater urgency than ever before, especially in view of the growing number of individuals whose immune systems are compromised by age or drug therapies.
The challenge from continuously evolving microbes makes Dr. Qureshi's research a particularly important endeavour. The recent respiratory health crisis in Canada's largest city and in parts of Asia is a prime example of the impact of emerging infectious diseases, and makes this work particularly relevant and timely.