VOLUME. 10, ISSUE 2: June 2017

In this issue 
Calendar of events

Deadline for submission of UC 2017 Abstracts extended to 31st August 2017

Authors and researchers wishing to showcase their work at UbuntuNet-Connect 2017 now have up to 31st August 2017 to submit abstracts to be considered for presentation at the conference.

UbuntuNet-Connect 2017, the tenth of the series of annual conferences of UbuntuNet Alliance, will be held on 2-3 November 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme: Enabling Intra- African Collaboration in Research and Education.

The conference will be co-hosted by the Ethiopian Research and Education Network (EthERNet) in collaboration with the African Union Commission for Human Resources, Science and Technology.

Prospective authors were initially called to submit their abstracts by August 11, 2017 but the Alliance has now extended the deadline to give researchers ample time to work on and submit their abstracts.

Interested researchers and authors are being called on to submit abstracts of not more than 500 words focusing on the conference’s outlined themes or any topic that is relevant to research and education networking.

Abstracts should be submitted online by creating an account on the conference’s platform. A full Call for Papers is also available online. 

New website for UbuntuNet Alliance

Member NRENs, Regional RENs, partners, stakeholders, researchers and the global scientific community will soon be able to get all information about UbuntuNet Alliance on a new website which is set to be launched soon.

The new website is an upgrade from the current Drupal based platform which has been running on the company’s domain since 2008.

The mobile friendly, highly responsive and social media integrated website will, apart from the usual content available on the current website, feature running research stories as they happen unlike the current one where stories are uploaded on the website and sent to users through the NUANCE newsletter on monthly basis.

With the new website, the Alliance will be posting news updates in real time and the NUANCE newsletter will be sent out to users from the new platform using MailChimp.

UbuntuNet Alliance Communications Officer, Hastings Ndebvu says the new website will improve the experience of end users as it has enhanced image and text features that offer easy, enjoyable and quick navigation.         

CSI Malawi: Using forensic science to "interrogate" mosquitoes

Fifteen years ago, Edward “Ned” Walker, a Michigan State University medical entomologist, spearheaded the use of insecticide-treated bed nets in the fight against malaria in Africa. Now, a seven-year, $8 million NIH-sponsored grant will enable Walker and his team to use a new, creative approach—forensic science.

MSU, in collaboration with the University of Malawi College of Medicine, is the recipient of one of 11 2017 grants that support International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR). Walker’s team will join primary investigators Terrie Taylor, D.O., in MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Don Mathanga, M.D., at the University Of Malawi College Of Medicine.

“The main intervention against malaria has been to distribute insecticide-treated bed nets,” said Walker, a professor in the MSU Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) in the College of Natural Science. “But we’re finding that not everybody likes to use the nets, sometimes the nets do not even arrive in the communities, and there’s an increasing occurrence of insecticide resistance.

“In the very poor, rural areas of Malawi, people’s houses aren’t very sophisticated; school-age children don’t have assigned sleeping spaces in their homes,” explained Walker, who is also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist and holds a joint appointment in the MSU Department of Entomology. “They roll a mat out on the floor where there’s some space and lie down and sleep. The mothers and babies most often sleep protected by a bed net. This changes the exposure group and the structure of pathology changes.”

In fact, the researchers have discovered that the malaria epidemiology spectrum has recently shifted—from children under the age of five, to school-age children.

“That has a lot of implications,” said Walker said.  “We’re trying to better understand why that happened, and what we can do about it. Maybe the answer is school-based intervention systems.

“What we’re interested in is the transmission driver,” he added. “Mosquitoes don’t bite randomly. They bite some people more than others.”

Walker and his team collaborated with David Foran, director of MSU's Forensic Science Program, School of Criminal Justice, in the College of Social Science, to develop tools to “interrogate” mosquitoes.

“After a blood meal, mosquitoes rest on the walls inside the homes. We collect the mosquitoes and can determine not only if the mosquito has bitten an animal or a human—but can actually pinpoint, using forensic analysis, which individual inside the home the insect has drawn blood from,” Walker said. “We can genotype them. And now, we’re developing a tool so we can determine what malaria parasites are also in that blood.”

Walker added that Malawi was one of three countries recently chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a large-scale test site for a new malaria vaccine. This could present an opportunity for the MSU scientists to weave in the vaccine study with their own research.

In August, all of the NIH grant awardees will meet in Washington, D.C., for the official launch of the project. The goal is that all nine centers will focus on the same problems, identify the common questions, and discuss the best way to attack the issue.

This article first appeared on the Michigan State University Website. Read the original version.

RedCLARA announces new Executive Director

RedCLARA has announced Luis Eliecer Cadenas Marin, co-founder of Venezuelan NREN REACCIUN, as its new Executive Director.

The announcement was made at the opening ceremony of the TICAL2017 Conference, in the city of San José, Costa Rica, earlier this month.

The new Executive Director assumes the position previously held by Florencio Utreras, who served as Executive Director since the founding of CLARA in November 2004.

Mr. Utreras, who received warm recognition for his leadership during the ceremony in San José, has overseen several projects including the ALICE project and several successor projects that have transformed the collaboration between the research and education communities in Latin America. 

Mr. Cadenas,  who assumed the position of Executive Director on August 1st, has extensive knowledge of   networks since their inception in Latin America. He was co-founder, President and board member of the National Academic Network of Venezuela, REACCIUN (1996-2000).

He was president of the Association of the Latin American Research Network (1998-1999) and also a member of the Board of Directories of Venezuela's National Supercomputing Center (CECALCULA, 1997-1999) and Sartenejas Technological Park (1997-1999). 

Telemedicine: helping reduce deaths from cancer in Asia 

Gastric cancer is the deadliest form of cancer in Asia. It accounts for the deaths of some 28 men and 13 women per 100,000. In Japan, gastric cancer used to have a similar profile – number one in mortality, as well as in incidence. But now, although the incidence in Japan hasn’t changed much, mortality has fallen dramatically. The reason for this fall in mortality is simple: early diagnosis.

Japan has a diagnosis rate of some 60% – the highest in the world. And that’s the result both of sophisticated imaging technology and of better education and training for young doctors. To put it another way: the reason for high mortality elsewhere in Asia is that the cancer is often diagnosed too late for effective medical intervention.

Training young doctors to deliver better cancer medicine

The Telemedicine Development Center of Asia (TEMDEC) has been building capacity to deliver valuable technical training for cancer specialists right across the region.  Essential to this programme is TEIN, a dedicated high-capacity IP network across Asia.

Traditional training methods – physically bringing together experts and trainees – is formidably expensive – more so when the people involved are scattered across an entire continent. Too few doctors can be trained in this way, and the cost is high.
Telemedicine – the provision of healthcare at distance, using communications technology – offered the possibility of a solution. But, to be fully effective, medical training at distance requires very high resolution moving images. The technology needs to deliver video at a rate of 30 frames per second, with no stagnation or stuttering and, moreover, has to be capable of coping with communications equipment of varying quality and different types at the receiving end.

None of this would be possible without TEIN, because conventional communications setups are simply incapable of such sophistication. TEIN – with its speed and stability – provides exactly the right technical solution to this problem.

Key benefits

TEMDEC’s telemedicine project has made a major contribution to the training of oncologists to detect gastric cancer at an early stage. Many patients diagnosed early have been treated by a new and advanced procedure – endoscopic submucosal dissection – that avoids the need for major intrusive surgery, relying instead on endoscopy to access the site of the disease.
a dedicated high-capacity IP network for research and education communities in Asia TEIN – the Trans-Eurasia Information Network – provides the dedicated, stable, high-capacity internet connectivity essential to ensuring the consistently high quality imaging necessary for medical training. It enables oncology experts from across the world to train their colleagues in real-time, using stutter-free, high-resolution imaging. TEIN offers doctors the next best thing to having the expert standing next to them in theatre or training room, guiding and educating.

TEIN does much more than help train doctors, of course. The network connects scientists and researchers across the Asia Region and, through direct connectivity with GÉANT, the pan-European network, to the entire global research and academic community.

Co-founded by the European Commission and Asian partners, and managed by TEIN*CC, the network began operating in 2000. It provides  •dedicated high capacity network for the research, scientific, education, arts and government communities across Asia  •a gateway for global collaboration for more than 30 million users in the region.

TEMDEC is now collaborating with 466 institutions in 57 countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Nepal and Australia – all countries experiencing both high prevalence and mortality rates of a range of cancers.

This article first appeared on the In The Field Blog. Read the original version.

Call for Articles

NUANCE is the monthly e-newsletter published by UbuntuNet Alliance. Key content  is news from, about, or of interest to National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Africa. We request and invite you to submit an item before the 20th of each month capturing:
  • News and developments from your NREN and news items of interest to NRENs
  • Content networks: how researchers and academics are using the REN infrastructure to enhance effectiveness and efficiency their work and to promote national and international collaboration
  • Hot tips about something you have done successfully (organisational or technical)
  • A photo that tells a story
  • Looking into the future, especially with regards to fibre infrastructure

Submissions should be sent to info@ubuntunet.net