Infectious diseases are a major threat to human health. Despite the advances made by 20th century medicine, the most recent global burden of disease study reported that almost 9 million people died from infections in 2015. Effective control of infectious diseases will require novel solutions to four key challenges:
- Antimicrobial resistance. The advances made by modern medicine are built on a foundation of effective antibiotic therapy. These successes are now threatened by the spectre of a post-antimicrobial era. Major emerging challenges include C. difficile, carbapenem-resistant/ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae, azole-resistant fungi, malaria, and multidrug-resistant TB.
- Emerging infectious diseases. New infectious diseases continue to emerge each year, causing direct illness and leading to important economic and social disruption. Recent examples include Zika and related arboviruses, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Mycobacterium chimaera in cardiac surgery patients and Cryptococcus gattii in the Pacific Northwest.
- Infections in vulnerable populations. Socioeconomic disparity, conflicts and mass migration have increased the number of individuals at risk for infectious diseases. Innovative strategies are needed to reach specific groups at risk including Indigenous and northern populations; refugees and immigrants; and resource-poor countries with a high burden of TB, parasitic disease and HIV.
- Disease of altered immunity. The host factors that govern autoimmune and inflammatory diseases exhibit striking overlap with those responsible for resistance to infection. Consequently, new immunomodulatory therapies that combat these inflammatory diseases have greatly expanded the population of immunocompromised patients at risk for opportunistic infections.
To leverage the power of translational research for the prevention, cure and elimination of major infectious threats to human health in the 21st century.
To create and foster interdisciplinary translational research teams that will generate new understandings of the microbial, host and environmental determinants that underlie the development of human infectious diseases, and to develop new preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to combat these conditions.