Texas A&M Researchers Land $5 Million Grant To Combat Brucellosis In Cameroon
Angela Arenas, an assistant professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, has been awarded a $5 million research grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a combat support agency within the United States Department of Defense, that will fund a project to produce the first comprehensive study of brucellosis in the Republic of Cameroon.
As part of the five-year study, Arenas, her team at Texas A&M, and members of the Laboratoire National Vétérinaire du Cameroun in Yaoundé, Cameroon, will evaluate the prevalence of brucellosis in the several regions of the African nation. The team will also work to cultivate the Cameroonian government’s capacity to better prevent, detect, and respond to brucellosis.
“I am really excited to receive this grant,” Arenas said. “Our project aligns with the vision of Texas A&M and the CVM through its international outreach, and it provides a great opportunity to contribute to a disease that is endemic, that has such a direct effect on Cameroonians. Because Brucella affects humans, livestock, and wildlife, this is a ‘one health’ problem.”
Brucellosis is a highly contagious zoonotic disease that, while not as common in the United States—and practically eradicated here—occurs more frequently in Africa. The bacteria cause devastating losses to the livestock industry and small-scale holders across the African content.
“Brucellosis is considered an endemic disease, which means that people in Africa are used to living with it,” Arenas said. “Neglected diseases usually affect the most vulnerable people, often in developing countries.”
Arenas and the project team will work to develop counter measures to stop the disease’s spread by creating an improved diagnostic tool that will increase Cameroonians’ capacities for diagnosing the disease.
“We are looking to create something that is cost-effective, deployable, reliable, easy to implement, and that can be used in locations where there aren’t a lot of people,” she said. “This research will also provide us a better understanding of the situation of the disease in Cameroon that will, hopefully, allow their government to develop a good vaccination strategy to control the disease.”
In getting the project started, Arenas and her team will travel to Cameroon in October to help conduct the inaugural ministerial meeting, which will be attended by ministers, government officials, and other stakeholders.
She will also bring doctoral students from Cameroon to Texas A&M to train them on Brucella research techniques, which will enable them to share their newfound knowledge and skills with their research colleagues upon their return home.
Arenas plans to publish her research findings, which she hopes will better inform future policymakers and veterinary and public health professionals.