Control of parasitic diseases caused by helminths and protozoa; research examines the role of molecules and the environment in these infections
The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 80 percent of the world’s population is infected with a parasitic worm, or helminth. While fatal worm infections in humans are rare, they do have a significant impact on DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) — the number of healthy years of life lost due to premature death and disability). In the poorest countries, this burden falls heavily on children, where these infections contribute to malnutrition, anemia, stunted growth, cognitive impairment and increased susceptibility to other diseases. The impacts of infectious disease can have enormous implications for human health, as well as that of animals of economic and social significance. For example, tremendous losses are experienced each year in North America as a direct result of livestock mortality, but it is now recognized that subclinical infections (i.e. no obvious disease) also have devastating effects on productivity (e.g. economic losses in the United States from parasitic infections of livestock have been estimated at more than $3 billion a year). In Canada, many large-scale agricultural crops, such as soybean, wheat and potato, are destroyed by soil helminths that infect the crops. The goal of the research program is to help alleviate the disease burden caused by parasitic helminths by understanding the dynamics of these infections at both the micro level (i.e. molecular: genes and proteins) and the macro level (i.e. environment in which they establish: landscape; presence of contaminants).
- Agriculture, animal science and food
- Fisheries and aquaculture
- Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment