Infectious Diseases and Global Health

Dedicated to making a difference — at home and abroad

Mark J. Manary, MD
Mark Katzman

Mark J. Manary, MD, the Helene B. Roberson Professor in Pediatrics, and colleagues have worked for nearly two decades to reduce childhood malnutrition.


Improving global health is among the world’s most pressing challenges, and infectious diseases research has become one of the largest areas of concentration within the School of Medicine. As new diseases appear, there is an ever-greater risk of rapid transmission and spread of infection. By traveling to foreign countries to provide basic health care or by offering programs in St. Louis aimed at preventing sexually transmitted diseases, our faculty, students, and staff are dedicated to making a difference — locally, nationally, and globally.

Areas of excellence

Children are disproportionately affected by infectious diseases, as well as by malnutrition. In an effort to cost-effectively reduce the malnutrition rate and reverse the cycle of poor health standards and lower educational achievements associated with it, School of Medicine researchers have developed ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) that can be locally manufactured, easily stored without refrigeration, and successfully used to ensure proper nutrition for children.

The study of the human microbiome promises to provide a better road map for investigating what goes awry in diseases thought to have microbial links and determining why the dangerous pathogens residing within us do not always cause life-threatening illnesses.

Washington University has been selected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and test new approaches for reducing health care-associated infections.

With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, researchers hope to reduce suffering caused by two tropical diseases: onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis). By optimizing simple and cost-effective treatments already being used to help hundreds of millions of people, the researchers seek to provide treatment for many neglected tropical diseases.

Washington University’s scope of work in this broad field includes patient safety, reduction of hospital-acquired infection incidence rates, community outreach, and the establishment of a Midwest Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research.

Together, we can

  • effectively prevent and treat infectious diseases of the urinary and reproductive tracts to alleviate suffering of women and children worldwide.

  • recognize commonalities among diseases and, where possible, apply effective solutions broadly.

  • explain diseases not yet known to be related to infection.

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