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Satoskar Engages Collaborators in India in Infectious Diseases Realm

Abhay Satoskar, professor and vice chair of the Department of Experimental Pathology, was in Bangalore on November 28, 2019, to connect with potential collaborators and organizations focused on the tropical disease leishmaniasis. In July 2019, he visited the Institute of Microbial Technologies to discuss this disease.

Satoskar is currently leading an international research team that is backed by a $4.25 million grant to generate a genetically modified weakened leishmania parasite as a vaccine for visceral leishmaniasis. The vaccine, although currently intended to eliminate leishmaniasis, is a potential platform to develop vaccines for other neglected tropical diseases.

India faces the challenge of a range of infectious diseases. India accounts for a quarter of global tuberculosis cases with an estimated 2.7 million new cases in 2018. Over 12 million people suffer from leishmaniasis, placing 350 million people at risk of infection worldwide. There are multiple forms of the disease, but the most life-threatening is visceral leishmaniasis, which is the second most fatal parasitic infection after malaria.

While in Bangalore, Satoskar visited research labs, start-up incubators and interacted with alumni in Bangalore researching neglected tropical diseases. Jitendra Kumar ’08 MBA, managing director of the Bangalore Bio-innovation Center, explained the capabilities of the start-up incubator that is funded by state and central governments and encourages entrepreneurs with space, infrastructure and mentorship. Sridhar Narayanan ’96 PhD, chief executive officer of the Foundation for Neglected Diseases, discussed collaborative avenues with the foundation. At the Centre for Infectious Disease Research at the Indian Institute of Science, ongoing research includes immunology of HIV-TB coinfection and microbial pathogenesis. The Center for Infectious Disease Research provides the intellectual and infrastructural support for infectious disease research that enables researchers to perform studies in the biosafety level three facility, a state-of-the-art biocontainment space to perform research.

At the Indian Institute of Science, Satoskar met with PhD students to discuss the typical challenges faced during scientific discourse and ways of navigating those uncertainties, while emphasizing the value of connecting with experts from across the world, all in pursuit of meaningful contributions to humanity.