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The Fight against Malaria: Gaining a Better Understanding of Infection Paths

Computer Science students are significantly contributing to reducing the spread of malaria in Thailand. In the frame of a practical project, they are developing an app-based system together with the Mahidol University in Bangkok. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the paths of infection.

The students spent several weeks in the northwest of Thailand on the border to Myanmar for the project. The people who live in the rural areas in villages sometimes repeatedly go through malarial regions on their daily routes. “Mobility is a key factor for the spread of this disease”, stated the leader of the project in Bremen, Dr. Thomas Barkowsky. Together with the researchers in Bangkok, students from Bremen will investigate the exact routes of the project participants for the next five years. Where exactly are the risk areas in which they can become infected? Where is it safe? “Only when we have understood the paths of infection of this disease can we apply some focused leverage on avoiding becoming infected”, explained Barkowsky.

A Challenge

Students at the University of Bremen have developed an app-based system. During their stay in Thailand, they were able to test it successfully with around 20 voluntary test persons.  “The unstable internet connection is the main problem in the structurally weak areas”, reported a student.

Integrated in a Worldwide Study

The project cooperation with the scientists in Bangkok is part of a worldwide study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). After the successful completion of the preliminary study by the students in Bremen, several hundred voluntary study participants are now being examined. Alongside their daily routes, the health data of the participants is also being analyzed anonymously. Repeated and newly emerging infections are of particular interest.

The Project is an Example of Research-Based Learning

Currently, eight master’s students at the University of Bremen are accompanying the project for 12 months. They are working on the visual presentation and analysis of the collected data. Subsequently, new seminar participants will take part. “Research-based learning is of great importance at the University of Bremen”, explained Lecturer Dr. Thomas Barkowsky. He noted that the project is an example of the close connection between teaching and research in degrees – including the practical relevance.

Further information:

www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/malariahttps://www.uni-bremen.de/en/studies/lehre-studium/  www.uni-bremen.de/en/ 

Contact

Dr. Thomas Barkowsky
Bremen Spatial Cognition Center
Faculty of Mathematics/Computer Science
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-64233
Email: barkowskyprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Junge Menschen schauen in einen Laptop
The students spent several weeks in the northwest of Thailand on the border to Myanmar for the project.