FWO awards funding for ITM’s collaborative research

The Research Foundation of Flanders (FWO) has awarded five PhD projects, five collaborative research projects and one scientific network to ITM in 2021. The research topics, aligning with ITM’s research priorities, include modelling of pathogen spread and field research on pathogen spill-over to human populations; antimicrobial resistance in tuberculosis (TB) and malaria; and new strategies to accelerate elimination of leishmaniasis and onchocerciasis.

The PhD scholarships were awarded to candidates from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the University of Antwerp (UA) with ITM as additional host institute. Three projects will also involve international partners; namely Stellenbosch University (South Africa), University of London (UK) and the Rwanda Biomedical Center (Rwanda). 

ITM submitted 17 research projects to FWO’s call for fundamental research projects in 2021 and five senior research projects were awarded. A multidisciplinary project studying the drivers of monkeypox outbreaks in DRC will be in close collaboration with the University of Antwerp’s ecology team, the Robert Koch Institute (Germany) and ITM’s institutional partner INRB in DRC. A project on omics data to predict TB-resistance is in collaboration with the University of Antwerp, Harvard University and the University of Colorado (USA), University of Bradford (UK) and Maastricht University (Netherlands). ITM scientists are also involved in two projects led by the University of Antwerp; one will study the ecology of Borrelia infections in wild birds, the other will investigate the causality between onchocerciasis and epilepsy. The fifth project will study the innate immune response that is triggered by a trypanosome-infected tsetse fly.

Lastly, the Scientific Research Network on tuberculosis, awarded for 2022-2026, will join and strengthen the collaboration between internationally recognised scientific experts from Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK that perform qualitative outstanding research on TB or non-TB mycobacterial disease with complementary research topics.