Jonathan Kurtis, MD, PhD
Director, Center for International Health Research (CIHR), Rhode Island Hospital
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brown Medical School
Jonathan Kurtis, MD, PhD is a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine with subspecialty training in transfusion medicine and coagulation at Brown Medical School. Since 1993, Kurtis has studied schistosomiasis immunity and participated in field based data collection in the Philippines, China, Kenya and Brazil.
Dr. Kurtis applies the techniques of molecular biology, immunology and population biology to identify vaccine candidates for both malaria and schistosomiasis in east Africa and the Philippines. By analyzing the relationship between specific immune responses and naturally acquired resistance in endemic populations, Dr. Kurtis identifies and characterizes new vaccine candidates. His current interests include the modulation of protective immune responses by nutritional and developmental factors in the human host and the identification of vaccine candidates for pediatric falciparum malaria.
GHI Spotlight Interview:
What is your current status at Brown?
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of Center for International Health Research, Rhode Island Hospital.
How did you first get interested in global health?
Developed cerebral malaria while taking the night train from Nairobi to Mombassa.
How did you become involved with your project?
In 1987, I was doing a semester abroad in Kenya and my independent project involved an interventional coral reef ecology study. While conducting this research, I developed malaria and realized the importance of tropical diseases on human health.
What is most difficult about your global health work? Most rewarding?
By far the most difficult aspect is convincing US based scientific reviewers of the importance of the international research agenda. A second challenge is we typically do not work on mice, the mainstay of US based scientific inquiry. The most rewarding aspect is the ancillary health care we can provide as part of our studies. In the longer time frame, the opportunity to contribute to developing vaccines and treatments for the most important diseases of children is incredibly satisfying.
How does your global health work fit in with your career plans?
My career is global health, so I bought in all the way!
What has your experience been with global health at Brown (Framework, GHI, etc.)?
I did my PhD at the International Health Institute with Dick Olds and Steve McGarvey as thesis mentors.
Any other thoughts/comments you'd like to add?
If you want to make a contribution to global health research, you must acquire advanced training in a specific discipline and then apply this perspective to the problems at hand. Just "being interested" will not result in objective output- it takes hard work!