The Unit of Tropical Diseases has for long been part of the Department of Clinical Sciences, under the leading of Prof. Emeritus Jef Van Den Ende. It is led now since November 2012 by Prof. Emmanuel Bottieau (MD internal medicine/infectious diseases). It has strong collaborative links with the other units of the department, in particular the Unit of Travel Medicine, of Tropical Laboratory Medicine and of the recently created Unit of HIV/Neglected Tropical Diseases, and with the Medical Services. Beyond the department, several current research projects are shared with different biomedical (Medical Helminthology, Veterinarian Helminthology, Malariology, Diagnostic Bacteriology,…) and public health (Disease Control,…) units.
In terms of research, the Units of Tropical Diseases and Unit of Travel Medicine have traditionally merged their activity for evident reasons of cross-fertilization between developed and low-resource contexts. Regarding post-travel pathology, both units actively contribute to surveillance and clinical research within well-established international networks of travel clinics (GeoSentinel, TropNet,…). The Unit of Tropical Diseases works with several Southern institutions (DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Mali, …) within research consortia. The main research topics are:
- The integrated management (diagnosis-treatment) of febrile illness in the tropics and in travelers, with a focus on malaria, arboviral infection and rickettsiosis
- The clinical management of neglected tropical diseases, with a focus on cysticercosis, schistosomiasis, strongyloidiasis and filarial infection
- The clinical decision-making in complex syndromes (neurological disorders, febrile illness, chronic diarrhea,...) in low-resource settings
- In collaboration with the Unit of Travel Medicine: high altitude illness, rabies vaccination,…
The unit is responsible of the “classic” postgraduate course of Tropical Medicine (Module 2 of the course “Tropical Medicine and International Health), renamed in 2016 as “Tropical Medicine and Clinical Decisions Making” since there is an important component of Clinical Decision-Making beyond the descriptive pathology.
In terms of service delivery, the unit contributes to international clinical courses (such as the Gorgas course of Clinical Tropical Medicine in Peru), national and international working groups/advisory committees (on malaria vaccine and treatment, dengue vaccine, treatment and investigational drugs for neglected tropical diseases such as leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness,…) and reference networks (Chagas, strongyloidiasis,…).