A decade later, in 2001, Halstead convened a meeting in Korea that gave rise to creating the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative (PDVI). Shepard contributed to the proposal and to the founding of the PDVI, serving on its Board of Counselors and Executive Committee.
Initially supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through PDVI subsequent dengue research at Brandeis has been supported by Sanofi Pasteur, a research-based vaccine company based in France. At this time Sanofi Pasteur is the furthest along in developing a dengue vaccine; its product will go into phase 3 clinical trials this year.
"The ultimate goal is controlling the disease," says Shepard.
One moderately effective approach currently in use, he says, includes placing larvacide in water-storage containers, which stops the breeding of the mosquitos that spread the virus. Also under development are methods for sterilizing mosquitoes that carry the disease so future mosquito populations will be smaller.
Yara Halasa, a research associate at the Heller School's Schneider Institute for Health Policy and one of the co-authors with Shepard on the "Economic Impact of Dengue Illness in the Americas," has been involved with the dengue project for three years. A native of Jordan, Halasa's passion for understanding the impact of disease began when writing about the subject in her native country.
"Understanding the economic impact of a disease is an important tool to assist policy makers in understanding the social as well as the medical impact. This is a great methodology that can be used for any disease," said Halasa, who is also a dentist and has been working with Shepard since 2008.
Dengue is classified by the World Health Organization as among "Neglected Tropical Diseases," meaning it is prevalent in the tropics, yet has not received attention commensu
|Contact: Susan Chaityn Lebovits|