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Gálvez has made a long journey from her home country, Peru, to the University of Hamburg, Germany, where she earned her Ph.D., and then to the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Germany. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. 

Sharp Minds October 2, 2023 Lecture Topic

Navigating Complex Co-Infections: Unraveling Immune Responses from Dengue Fever and Malaria in Tropical Landscapes 

More than 40% of the global population resides in tropical areas characterized by poverty and a high prevalence of pathogens with a geographical overlap. That means individuals deal with multiple simultaneous infections, presenting a unique test for the immune system.  

Co-infection situations impact immune responses and remain inadequately explored. Understanding whether co-infections exacerbate severity, potentially leading to extensive immune-related damage similar to post-infection autoinflammatory conditions, or conversely, suppress immune responses, holds vital importance. 

Recent research by Rosa Isela Gálvez, Ph.D., concentrates on overlooked co-infections among major pathogen groups: protozoan parasites and arboviruses. She hypothesizes that co-infections involving protozoan parasites could potentially alleviate severe viral illnesses. This is suggested by the low rates of flavivirus infections, like dengue fever and COVID-19 fatality in sub-Saharan Africa, where endemic malaria persists. The causal relationship remains unexplored and establishing this connection is critical for malaria eradication endeavors. Unraveling parasite-influenced immune mechanisms opens new avenues for innovative vaccine development and tailored prevention strategies, significantly advancing global health approaches.