French Parasitology Alliance For Health Care

Research in parasitology is multidisciplinary. In addition to molecular biology, cellular biology and biochemistry, it includes, at least in the major human diseases, a strong component of immunology in addition to field epidemiology, clinical research and human and vector genetics. New scientific opportunities are provided by the recently available genome information for most major parasites and their hosts. Combining the state-of-the-art of fundamental research and translational applications, we expect to defeat major parasitic diseases such as malaria, toxoplasmosis, leishmaniasis, African trypanosomiasis, amoebiasis and theileriosis. Although many of the listed diseases occur in the developing world, there are new emergences of these parasitic infections world wide.

The major focus of ParaFrap is the collaboration and further integration of laboratories from disease endemic countries (Africa, India and Latin America) to the consortium. Collaborations with research groups from endemic countries underline the opportunity to validate ‘bench’ work in the field using clinical isolates and perform integrated studies on the disease in its natural environment. On the other hand, particular virulence factors observed in patients or animals infected with field isolates have been explored at the molecular level in high tech laboratories in France. Collaborations with laboratories located in disease endemic countries will be further strengthened by ParaFrap. For example, students from these countries are invited to apply to the PhD program, post doc positions and workshops. The planned biennial meeting will be publicized widely in these countries. Emphasis on the already existing interactions with developing countries, in particular Africa, India, Latin America and China will be one of our major goals. At present, the key strength of the French Parasitology research relies on parasitic diseases caused by protozoan pathogens. For this reason, ParaFrap initially will focus on malaria and toxoplasmosis and other neglected diseases of increasing public health concern including trypanosomiosis, leishmaniasis, bovine tropical theileriosis and amoebiasis. ParaFrap will be open to integrate excellent laboratories working on other parasitic pathogens in the future.

Another goal of ParaFrap is to bring together leading French researchers and establish stable inter-institutional and structural scientific links via a joint scientific and training programs and shared infrastructures. The integration of expertise from academic, industry and laboratories in disease endemic countries should enhance existing studies in basic parasitology research and accelerate translational aspects (diagnosis and intervention strategies) for many major parasitic pathogens.

Taken together, ParaFrap aims to strengthen significantly France’s position as an international leader in this domain. In order to keep ParaFrap open to the French Parasitology community, collaborative research projects and PhD student sandwich fellowships can integrate participants outside the initial core group of the consortium. This will keep the network open and will allow the continual integration of excellent and complementary groups. Another integrating activity is going to be the biennial meeting that will be open to the entire French Parasitology community. This meeting will allow students and post doc to present their data as talks/posters in the presence of PIs and the external Scientific Advisory Board.