What One San Diegan Is Doing with a Life Without Disease
Dr. Melanie McCauley went to Nepal to help build a local research infrastructure to study dengue and halt the spread of the virus.
Content provided by
Dengue virus is rapidly spreading from tropical to temperate climate zones, putting people in the Southern reaches of Europe and the U.S. at risk of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.
The virus recently made its way from India into the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. But the resource-poor country does not have enough health care and epidemiological workers with dengue expertise to meet the challenge nor the equipment and supplies to control the mosquito that carries the virus.
For the last two years, Dr. Melanie McCauley has been working closely with the team of Krishna Manandhar, Ph.D., a professor at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, the country’s premier research university, to increase Nepal's cadre of dengue experts. Dr. McCauley is helping them acquire the necessary virology and immunology skills to control the spread of dengue in Nepal.
“There’s a lot of merit in bringing medicines to people who can’t reach them themselves, but it’s sort of putting a band aid on the situation and I realized that only through scientific discovery will we really make huge changes that impact large populations of people,” says Dr. McCauley, an infectious disease expert at La Jolla Institute for Immunology. “So that's why I started doing research and global health, specifically dengue virus and Zika virus.”
The partnership helped build a local dengue research network that includes local clinics. Being able to identify dengue patients and collect blood samples in remote areas is crucial for the success of the project.
The experience also transformed Dr. McCauley. “One of the ways that this work has shaped me has really been to put a spotlight on how I was raised and to highlight the differences and what that means to people from other contexts. When we have self-awareness, it's easier to reach out to other people and find ways to communicate and compromise and work together.”