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Leishrisk, Bridging Research and Leishmanianis Control

Leishrisk, Bridging Research and Leishmanianis Control

The LeishRisk Steering Committee

The Steering Committee has overall responsibilities for monitoring the work performed, reviewing the objectives and progress achieved towards sustained cooperation. If needed, they will discuss any corrective action where necessary.

In addition to scientific management of the LeishRisk project, the scientific steering committee:
  • manages the consortium agreement;
  • co-ordinates knowledge management and other innovation-related activities;
  • over-sees the promotion of gender equality in the project;
  • over-sees science and society issues, related to the research activities conducted within the project.

Jorge Alvar World Health Organization
Marleen Boelaert Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Philippe Büscher Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Simon Croft London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative
Elisa Cupolillo Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Jean-Claude Dujardin Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Sayda el Safi University of Khartoum
David Hendrickx Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Philippe Loiseau Université Paris-Sud 11
Hechmi Louzir Institut Pasteur de Tunis
Michael Miles London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Paul Ready National History Museum
Shyam Sundar Banaras Hindu University


Jorge Alvar is the medical officer in charge of the leishmaniasis control programme in the Neglected Tropical Diseases Department (NTD) at WHO. He was previously the leader of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Leishmaniasis (Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain) with experience in a number of research projects (European and others). He has developed a considerable expertise in diagnosis and epidemiology, more concretely: the definition of Leishmania/HIV co-infection, molecular epidemiology and canine leishmaniasis as a target for controlling the disease. He currently participates in the LEISHMEDproject.

Marleen Boelaert is a professor in epidemiology in the department of Public Health at the ITMA. As a public health epidemiologist she was involved in several WHO multi-centre studies concerning VL diagnostics and in the INCODEV/FP5 project, LEISHNATDRUG. Concerning Visceral Leishmaniasis, she has developed methods for operational validation of the serological assays (DAT), novel diagnostics and therapeutic strategies relying on methodological research through Latent Class Analysis. She is an expert in the epidemiological and socio-economic aspects of visceral leishmaniasis. She is currently co-ordinating the EC project “Efficacy, acceptability and cost-effectiveness of long lasting insecticidal nets in the prevention of Kala-Azar” (KALANET).

Philippe Büscher is the head of the Unit of Parasite Diagnostics at ITMA and is specialised in the development, evaluation and production of diagnostic tests for Human and Animal African Trypanosomiasis. Recently the Unit has extended his activities towards diagnosis of leishmaniasis and of Chagas' disease, in close collaboration with a private company Coris BioConcepts. The expertise of the Unit in diagnosis and stage determination is regularly appealed for by other groups that conduct clinical trials on novel drugs and drug combinations in HAT. He participates in the East African Network for Trypanosomiasis and is consultant on HAT for the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics in Geneva. He is currently co-ordinating the EC project “Simplified and rapid molecular assays for diagnosis of Leishmaniasis and Human African Trypanosomiasis and parasite (sub-)species identification” (TRYLEIDIAG).

Simon Croft is the director of Research and Development at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Geneva. He works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK in the Immunology Unit, and has led research programmes on antimalarial, antileishmanial and antitrypanosomal drug identification, evaluation and development with support of WHO/TDR, MMV and the Gates Foundation. Other projects on miltefosine for leishmaniasis and drug resistance in leishmaniasis are supported by EC FP5. His projects on topical formulations for cutaneous leishmaniasis are supported by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust. He was the coordinator of “Miltefosine for leishmaniasis: molecular basis of mechanisms of action, resistance and combination therapy” (MILTLEISH).

Elisa Cupolillo is working at the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Brazil. She is a parasitologist and molecular biologist.  Her team has collaborations in South America and Africa. She specializes in genetic variation in Leishmania, molecular epidemiology and population genetics of parasites and vector.  The Instituto Oswaldo Cruz hosts an international Leishmania collection, affiliated to the World Federation for Culture Collection (WDCM 731). Dr Cupolillo currently participates in the LEISHEPINET-SA project.

Jean-Claude Dujardin is the head of the unit of Molecular Parasitology at ITMA and the chief coordinator of the LeishRisk project.  He is specialised in the structure, dynamics and function of the parasite genome in natural populations.   Prof Dujardin is an expert in molecular diagnostics and epidemiology.  His motto is 'from the gene to the eco-system'. As such, he is particulary concerned by the need for a global vision on parasitic diseases, provided by basic and applied research. He has coordinated several EC projects, two of which are networked by the current SSA: (i) “Molecular tools for monitoring emergence and spreading of drug resistance among natural populations of Leishmania” (LEISHNATDRUG-R), and (ii) “Monitoring risk factors of spreading of Leishmaniasis around the Mediterranean Basin” (LEISHMED)
Sayda el Safi is working at the University of Khartoum, Sudan. She was the Head of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology over the last four years. In July 2000, she was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Khartoum University. Her research interests include leishmaniasis and Clinical Immunology. As a Principal Investigator in several research projects on leishmaniasis that were funded by WHO/TDR, INSERM, EC (IC 18 CT 98 0373 Immuno-genetic studies on visceral leishmaniasis in the Sudan), she conducted - with the collaboration of a number of national and international institutes - epidemiological, clinical and laboratory research on leishmaniasis. She currently participates in the TRYLEIDIAG project.

David Hendrickx is the assistant coordinator of the LeishRisk project. A university graduate in social and political sciences, he is responsible for the day-to-day management of the LeishRisk project and plays a central role in the realisation of its objectives and deliverables.
Philippe Loiseau is working at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Université Paris-Sud 11, France. He is chemist and parasitologist. His area of expertise is the chemotherapy of leishmaniasis: a) mechanism of action of drugs, b) mechanism of drug resistance, c) drug research including screening of compounds from synthesis and natural origin, d) evaluation and bioavailability of new formulations. He participates in EC projects (MILTLEISH, FP5 and BIOMEDCHEM, FP6). He has contributed to the selection of a new drug candidate, now evaluated in the DNDi pipeline.
Hechmi Louzir is working at the Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Tunisia. His area of expertise is the Immunology of leishmaniasis and parasite virulence. More specifically, this entails a) identification of new Leishmania antigen and their evaluation for diagnosis or protection, b) dissection of immune responses (and effector mechanisms) developed during the different forms of Leishmania infection in humans, c) analysis of the molecular basis of wild Leishmania virulence, d) development and/or evaluation of classic and new tools for the control of leishmaniasis. He was the coordinator of “Advances in epidemetric parameters of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis to validate tools for surveillance and control”(ADVANCES in ZCL).

Michael Miles is working at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK (Pathogen Molecular Biology Unit). His interests are in: the genetic diversity and molecular biology of Trypanosoma cruzi and the Leishmania donovani complex (L. donovani, L. infantum/chagasi), the molecular taxonomy and phylogenetics of triatomine bug (Hemiptera:Reduviidae) vectors of T. cruzi, the epidemiology and control of South American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) and visceral leishmaniasis, and the ecology of South American mammals. Michael Miles also has various overseas collaborations throughout Latin America, in the USA, Sudan, and Europe. He currently coordinates the project “Control strategies for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL) in South America: applications of molecular epidemiology” (LEISHEPINET-SA), and has coordinated the project “Diagnostic and epidemiological markers of endemic and resurgent European leishmaniasis” (LEISHMANIA GENOTYPING) in the past.

Paul Ready is working at the National History Museum in London (Entomology Molecular Systematics Laboratory).  He is an expert in the (molecular) biology of sandflies and their control.  He is currently leading the Leishmaniasis component within the project “Emerging Diseases in a Changing European Environment”(EDEN-LEI).
Shyam Sundar works at the Banaras Hindu University, India. He is currently professor at the Department of Medicine at BHU and is the chief investigator of the Kala-Azar Medical Research Centre, which he created in Muzaffarpur, in the heart of the VL focus in Bihar. He has gained international recognition as a scientist, in part for his research work on the clinical development of miltefosine, the first oral drug against kala-azar. Shyam Sundar participates in the KALANET project.



LeishRisk supports the initiative to develop a VL Diagnostics Quality Assurance Network.  

Download a report of the first consultation meeting <here>