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Scientists gather at Loyola to discuss world's most devastating diseases

Loyola press release - November 1, 2012

Loyola University New Orleans hosted an international science conference Oct. 30 – Nov. 2 where scientists from around the world gathered to present ground-breaking research on some of the globe’s most devastating diseases. The 11th annual MEEGID conference, or Molecular Epidemiology and Evolutionary Genetics of Infectious Diseases, showcased recent results of research on HIV, malaria, flu and also Chagas disease—a research focus of Loyola professor Patricia Dorn, Ph.D.

The conference represents a global approach to combating infectious disease and is chaired by Michel Tibayrenc, M.D., Ph.D., from France. The conference was previously held in locations such as Amsterdam and the Sorbonne University in Paris.

As a part of the prestigious MEEGID conference in New Orleans this year, Dorn presented her latest research on the blood-sucking bugs that transmit Chagas disease at the conference. Her DNA research on the bugs offers a vital step in understanding the kissing bugs, important in stopping the bug from spreading Chagas disease. The disease is actually caused by a parasite spread by the kissing bug, which often feeds on victims’ faces at night. The parasite infects from 8 to 9 million people in Latin America and also people in the U.S. In 20 to 30 percent of victims, it causes fatal heart disease.

The conference also featured an extensive program of presentations featuring internationally recognized speakers on Loyola’s main campus. In celebration of Loyola’s centennial, the final plenary sessions on Friday, Nov. 2 were open to the public. Pioneering researchers Seth Walk, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Hospital and Health Systems, Scott Weaver, Ph.D., of the University of Texas Medical Branch, and Frederic Simard, Ph.D., of France’s Institute for Development Research, presented research on the evolution of E. coli, the emergence of arthropod-borne viruses, and population genetics and evolution of mosquito species, respectively.

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LoyNews is an e-newswire produced by the Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs. LoyNews is distributed weekly to local, regional and national news media outlets, communicating the latest news and accomplishments of the university and its community.