UGA microbiologist selected to serve as ambassador, advocate for global health

UGA microbiologist selected to serve as ambassador, advocate for global health research

Washington, D.C. – Dan Colley, professor of microbiology and director of the University of Georgia Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, has been selected as one of 25 health experts who will advocate for greater U.S. investment in global health research. These experts join 50 of their peers in Research!America’s Paul Rogers Society for Global Health Research, a national advocacy organization working to raise awareness about the critical importance of global health research.

The Rogers Society, named for Paul G. Rogers, the late Florida congressman, a renowned advocate for global health research, was established in 2006 with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Research!America advocates greater U.S. investment in research to fight diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest nations.

“We have a new administration, and now is the time we can make a difference for global health,” said John Edward Porter, chair of the Rogers Society Advisory Council and Research!America board chair. “Paul Rogers’ spirit lives on through the work of each of these ambassadors. As Rogers often said, ‘Without research, there is no hope.'”

Colley has conducted research for nearly four decades into the immune responses of people with schistosomiasis. Caused by several species of worms of the genus Schistosoma, this tropical disease affects some 200 million people worldwide. It is most common in Africa and to a lesser extent in Asia, South America and the Middle East, especially where water is contaminated with the freshwater snails that carry the parasitic worms.

While it has a relatively low mortality rate, schistosomiasis can lead to damage of internal organs, and impair physical and cognitive growth and development in children. The worms can live in the blood vessels of people for up to 40 years, leading to chronic illness and diminishing health.

“The University of Georgia is proud of Dan Colley and his international leadership in addressing neglected tropical diseases,” said UGA Vice-President for Research David Lee. “With this honor, the council recognizes his commitment to research that will improve conditions that currently cause widespread suffering in the developing world.”

Colley will serve for one year, beginning in January 2009, as an “unbiased voice that can highlight the important role of global health research to key policymakers and the media at home and in Washington, D.C.,” according to the society.

Research!America is the nation’s largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make improved health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, the organization is supported by 500 member organizations and represents more than 125 million Americans. For more information, visit http://www.researchamerica.org.