A global health problem, dengue viruses are a major cause of morbidity in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. At the 19th Annual WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University, Dr. Timothy Endy discussed the unique viral and host factors, and interactions that increase the complexity of dengue and potential vaccine development.
In his presentation titled “Understanding Dengue Pathogenesis and Essential Areas for Research”, the Chief of the Infectious Disease Division at SUNY Upstate Medical University reviewed the history of dengue research in Thailand and shares his key findings and the future directions in the study of the disease. According to Dr. Endy, in countries where dengue is endemic, the first infection happens when children are toddlers with symptoms that can be compared to a bad flu. The second infection, however, is much more worrisome—it can cause what’s called a hemorrhagic fever, which can include unstoppable bleeding inside the body. He cautions that if not treated properly, people, often children, can bleed to death.
“My research mostly focuses on why the second infection is so severe because that is really where all the illness and deaths come from—all of that was set up by the very first infection,” stated Dr. Endy. “Unfortunately, there have not been any studies that really focus on the first infection since it is so hard to find and often goes undetected by healthcare providers. Yet, inapparent dengue is an important component of the overall burden of dengue infection, as it provides a source of infection for mosquito transmission during the course of an epidemic.”
As Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Immunology and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Medicine at Upstate, Dr. Endy is considered an international expert in the field of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever and emerging viral pathogens.
Additionally, Dr. Endy not only came to Grenada to provide an overview of the type of dengue research he’s been doing for almost 30 years but as part of a proposed incidence study in Grenada from 2018-2021 to be conducted in collaboration with SGU and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, LLC. The study will focus on the incidence of infection of the dengue virus in the student body and hopes to provide a better understanding of the host response to the first dengue infection.
Throughout his career, Dr. Endy has conducted basic science research in the field of virology, developed vaccine field and epidemiological study sites in Southeast and Central Asia, conducted phase I and II clinical vaccine trials, and is active in the development and management of research programs that are product oriented towards developing vaccines and diagnostics that meet FDA regulatory requirements.
Previously known as the annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture, the event was named for SGU’s second Vice Chancellor, whose vision and dedication to the international growth of St. George’s University led to the creation of the Windward Island Research and Education Foundation in 1994. Since then, the lecture has drawn the attention of numerous renowned presenters willing to share their expertise on topics such as climate change, health needs, and drug abuse and addictions. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert C. Gallo, best known for his role in the discovery of the HIV’s link to AIDS; Dr. Ruth Macklin, a bioethics pioneer; and renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster.