Highlights from “2017 in CHRF”

Dear 2018 of CHRF, buckle up ‘coz 2017 is a hard year to follow.

2017 at CHRF ended with our annual picnic, which brought together almost all members of the team, celebrating the achievements of 2017, and rooting for an even better 2018. 2017 is going to be a hard year to follow though.….

The biggest news of the year was that Samir Saha, CHRF’s executive director, won the Carlos J Finlay UNESCO Prize for Microbiology, which came on the heels of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology. The cherry on top was the National Geographic article “Here’s why vaccines are so crucial” featuring Dr. Saha’s work on pneumococcal vaccines, which in turn was followed by an inspiring panel discussion led by National Geographic. However, during his award ceremony in UNESCO, before 195 member states, Dr. Saha ended his presentation acknowledging his team –

“My team, who deserves the credit of this award” his final slide said.

Last slide presented by Dr. Samir during the UNESCO award ceremony in Paris, France.

So here is a year-end summary of what some of the other team members were up to in 2017.

Tanmoy marked the beginning of the exciting year attending Young Compare Meeting in the Netherlands in Feb 2017, to present his new generation sequencing approach to characterize drug resistance of Salmonella Typhi.

Senjuti, Tanmoy and Sajib then met up in April in Kampala, Uganda, to attend the 10th International Conference on Typhoid and Other Invasive Salmonelloses. Senjuti gave a talk on establishing a low-cost method to track typhoid and Tanmoy and Sajib teamed up to present a poster on tracking Typhi and Paratyphi in water.

Sajib, Senjuti and Tanmoy, Kampala, Uganda.

In May, Zabed went to Kigali, Rwanda, to present his exciting findings in the project “Burden of antibiotic resistance in neonates in developing societies (BARNARDS)”.

Ten abstracts on different aspects of microbiology by Roly, Hasan, Popy, Sajib, Senjuti, Tanmoy, Naziat, Nazrul, Sanchita and Shahidul were accepted to be presented at the ASM Microbe 2017 meeting in New Orleans! Tanmoy and Senjuti went on to win ASM student and postdoctoral travel grants and get their names on the wall.

Hasan, making everyone else jealous, accompanied Dr. Samir to attend the Tundra kick off meeting in Cambodia.

Senjuti made a quick trip out to Baltimore, USA, to present at the 2017 American society of Tropical Medicine and Hygeine meeting (ASTMH) – “Epidemiology and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella Typhi and Paratyphi”. And, on her way back to Bangladesh, she presented “The dark side of meningitis: all that we do not know from 13 years of surveillance” at the Meningitis Research Foundation conference in London, UK. (Funny side story – the conference was held at the British Museum, but it always started before the museum opened and ended after the museum closed – so she never got to visit the museum!).

Senjuti Saha, MRF conference 2017, London, UK.

At the same and in the same continent hanging out was Shampa with her old friends when she was attending the Global Health (IFGH) University of Siena- First Alumni Workshop (“Beyond Capacity Building”) of the Master in Vaccinology and Pharmaceutical Clinical Development. The event was held at the Université De Lyon and Sanofi Pasteur, France.

Shampa, France

Continuing on with the sprint – 10 abstracts were again accepted to be presented at the 10th Congress of the World Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (WSPID) 2017, held at Shenzhen, China, in December. This time, Sajib, Nazrul, Shahidul and Senjuti won the travel grants. A full extra day was spent in the city for “all play and no work” – and every minute was utilized.

All play and no work day of Senjuti, Maksuda, Samir, Nazrul, Shahidul, Sajib – Window of the World, Shenzhen, China.

Tanmoy got back in game of “seeing the world in the name of science” to seal the year with his fabulous presentation on Typhi genomics in Typhoid at the GABRIEL Network/J. Craig Venter Institute Training – Applications of Genomics & Bioinformatics to Infectious Diseases.

Apart from all the globetrotting, these young folks have also started bringing in collaborators and grants.

Mark, quite a new fellow at the CHRF, and Senjuti won a grant from Amazon to develop a computational framework to automatically interpret chest x-rays. Another follow-up grant is about to be signed. Being the first of its kind for CHRF, we are all looking forward to the results!

Shampa needs to be congratulated a million times for her amazing accomplishment of building a team of field research assistants and running the health care utilization survey to calculate incidence of typhoid, otitis media and meningitis in Dhaka, in such a short time and so successfully!

Shampa’s wonder team of field research assistants who conducted the health care utilization survey.

Jamal needs to be congratulated but it’s hard to pick a reason – he is just good at everything!

Richard, the newest Dr, must be mentioned – he successfully defended his PhD and is continuing on as a postdoc with some exciting genomics projects in hand!

Moving on to publications – of a total of 20 cumulative publications from the team, three publications on GBS, typhoid and rotavirus vaccine deserve definite mention here. The latter two fall right in the intersection of policy, epidemiology and bench science – the intersection CHRF strives to widen.

Now that is the bar CHRF needs to defeat in 2018. Sneaking a peek at 2018 – Samir Saha has been elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology. 11 abstracts have been accepted to be presented at the 11th international symposium on pneumococci and pneumococcal diseases (ISPPD) 2018, in Melbourne, Australia! Stay tuned…