Nav: Home

Tufts water diplomat awarded global prize for developing early warning system for cholera

November 01, 2016

Shafiqul Islam, Sc.D., of Tufts University School of Engineering, has been awarded the 7th Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) Creativity Award, one of most prestigious international awards focusing on water-related scientific innovation. Islam was recognized for his work in developing and testing a model using chlorophyll information from satellite data to predict cholera outbreaks at least three to six months in advance.

Islam, along with his colleague, Rita Colwell, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland at College Park, are receiving the award at a ceremony Nov. 2 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event is being hosted by the U. N. Friends of Water and presided over by the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and PSIPW Chairman Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz.

This collaborative initiative between Tufts University and the University of Maryland involved several former students, university faculty and researchers from these two institutions. It also involved international partners, integrated and advanced scholarship, field experience in ecology and microbiology of cholera; hydrology and remote sensing; limnology and plankton taxonomy; and public health, epidemiology and biostatistics, and modeling. Doctoral research by two recent Tufts graduates - Dr. Ali Akanda of the University of Rhode Island and Dr. Antarpreet Jutla of West Virginia University - led to the discovery that the macro-environmental factors that drive cholera can be tracked using remote sensing data and other forecasting methods, opening up the possibility of an early warning system for cholera.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The World Health Organization estimates it sickens 1.3 million to 4 million people each year and causes 21,000 to 143,000 deaths worldwide.

"This interdisciplinary and highly productive team has demonstrated consistent and significant accomplishments, and has made a considerable effort towards cholera prediction for effective intervention and mitigation," said Kurt Pennell, Ph.D., PE, BCEE, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts. "We are grateful that PSIPW has not only recognized their achievements but also provided prominence to this timely and humane work."

Colwell is an internationally acclaimed oceanographer and microbiologist who has spent the bulk of her career studying the V. cholerae bacterium. Colwell and her team were the first to identify linkages between phytoplankton, zooplankton and cholera. Islam applied Colwell's findings and related chlorophyll and phytoplankton information obtained from NASA satellites to develop cholera prediction models. Currently, the team is testing this satellite-based model - where hydrology and microbiology meet epidemiology and engineering - with ground-based observations for different regions of the world.

"The Cholera Outbreak Prediction system from Satellite has the capabilities and functionalities to be useful for many regions of the world where minimal or no resources are available for ground measurements. My hope is that our findings will enable medical professionals to anticipate and prevent cholera outbreaks," said Islam. "I'm honored and humbled to receive this recognition and hope it will call global attention for action and operationalize this predictive model to save lives in cholera-endemic and resource-limited regions of the world."

In addition to serving as a civil and environmental engineering professor at the School of Engineering, Islam is the director of the Water Diplomacy program and a professor of water diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. He was the first Bernard M. Gordon Senior Faculty Fellow in Engineering at Tufts. His research group Water Diplomacy and WE REASoN integrates "theory and practice" and "think and do" to create actionable water knowledge. Islam is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, and has authored more than 100 articles in journals and other publications.

PSIPW is a leading, global scientific award focusing on cutting-edge innovation in water research. It gives recognition to scientists, researchers and inventors around the world for pioneering work that addresses the problem of water scarcity in creative and effective ways.
-end-
About Tufts University

Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

Tufts University

Related Public Health Articles:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.
Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.
Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.
The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.
BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.
The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.
More Public Health News and Public Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.