The Fight against Malaria: Gaining a Better Understanding of Infection Paths
Master’s students from the University of Bremen are significantly contributing to reducing the spread of malaria in Thailand. In the frame of a practical project, the future computer scientists are developing an app-based system together with Healthcare students from the Mahidol University in Bangkok. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the disease’s infection paths.
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.
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.
About the University of Bremen
Top-performing, diverse, reform-minded, and singularly cooperative – that about sums up the University of Bremen. Around 23,000 people learn, teach, research, and work on its international campus. Their shared goal is to contribute to the advancement of society. With well over 100 degree programs, the range of subjects offered by the University is broad. As one of Europe’s leading research universities, it maintains close cooperation with non-university research institutions in the region. This spirit of cooperation led to the founding of the U Bremen Research Alliance in 2016. The University’s competence and dynamism have also attracted numerous companies to settle in the technology park surrounding the campus. This has created an important national location for innovation – with the University of Bremen at its heart.
Dr. Thomas Barkowsky
Bremen Spatial Cognition Center
Faculty of Mathematics/Computer Science
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-64233