University of Bremen: Use new technologies for more efficient tropical medicine

Interdisciplinary cutting-edge research in the field of tropical medicine is the goal of a new transnational network of excellence that is being set up under the leadership of Professor Anna Förster from the University of Bremen. It is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The University of Bremen has been cooperating with one of the best universities in Thailand, Mahidol University in Bangkok, for many years. It is one of the strategic partners of Bremen University. One of the highlights of the many years of fruitful cooperation was the establishment of a joint research laboratory on “medical informatics” (Mahidol-Bremen Medical Informatics Research Unit, MIRU) in Thailand in 2018.

This partnership is now being further expanded: The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is funding the establishment of an excellence network for interdisciplinary cutting-edge research in the field of tropical medicine with around 300,000 euros. “Our goal is to build a community and a training center that promotes the use of advanced information and communication technologies for various problems and applications in this field,” says Bremen computer science professor Anna Förster. She is in charge of the four-year project that has just started. “In addition to Thai experts from research, politics and business, researchers from Vietnam, Portugal and France are also represented in this new international network.”

The topic is improvements in the fight against tropical diseases. “It’s a very complex matter,” explains Professor Peter Haddawy from Mahidol University. “We must monitor the interaction between the human population and the environment and ensure a rapid response to disease outbreaks and effective diagnosis and treatment.” One approach to this is to collect information, integrate it across the various processes involved and evaluate it. “The improved results are highly informative and therefore have the potential to make disease control more effective.”

Under development: outdoor mosquito counting device
From a technical point of view, the Internet of Things (IoT), data science approaches and mobile computing techniques are used in particular. This is where the expertise of Anna Förster and her working group comes into play. The professor heads the chair for sustainable communication networks at the Institute for Telecommunications and High Frequency Technology at the University of Bremen and devotes her research primarily to the area of ​​self-organizing networks. “An example of this is an ongoing research project in which we are developing a device for counting mosquitoes outdoors together with our partners in Thailand and Portugal,” reports Anna Förster. “Thanks to this device, the decision-makers will later know how many mosquitoes there are and what types of mosquitoes are buzzing around. This will then help them in their decision-making

In order to develop and use such tools effectively and to improve human, animal and environmental health, a strong network of experts in each field must be firmly established. Subsequently, these experts will disseminate the knowledge as part of a One Health approach. This approach is based on the understanding that human, animal and environmental health are closely related.

Start with workshop and summer school in June
At the start of the new excellence network, partners from all over the world will come together in June at the University of Bremen. After the kick-off workshop from June 23rd to 25th, a summer school will take place from June 27th to July 1st. “We are expecting around 30 national and international guests,” says Professor Förster, looking forward to the start. “We are planning targeted activities in the areas of teaching, research and management for the future. Course material on advanced information technologies in tropical medicine will be developed with the participation of practitioners, integrated into existing courses and made freely accessible online.