In 1993, Institute of Tropical Diseases was founded in Southern Medical University (the former First Military Medical University) and researches on tropical diseases have since been started. In 1997, the Lab for Tropical Diseases was conferred one of military key labs. In 2001, it was entitled as one of extremely important key labs of Military 2110 Project. In 2005, it was authorized as one of key labs of Guangdong Province. The lab has gained many excellent achievements during the assessment and evaluation of Guangdong Science and Technology Department.
A Brief Overview and Research Orientations
The Key Lab for Tropical Diseases, based on the tropical region where Guangdong Province is located, targets at the disease pedigree and features of onset of diseases typical of tropical regions, carries out researches on genomics and proteomics of important pathogens in tropical regions, the integrated prevention and treatment of major infectious diseases, the development and application of innovative test reagents of major infectious diseases, emergency medical prevention technology of NBC(nuclear, biology and chemistry) hazards, the occupational and environmental health in tropical regions as well as health statistical methodology, etc., endeavors to shape the Key Lab for Tropical Diseases into a high-level research base of tropical medicine in China, a talent training base and a first-class key lab of Guangdong Province with international influence, and assists in the development of society, construction of economy and the medical and health service of Guangdong Province.
The lab has developed its own research features in disciplines of Molecular Epidemiology, Special Environmental Health, Emergency Technology of Anti-NBC, Prevention and Treatment Technology of Major Infectious Diseases.
The Key Lab for Tropical Diseases has constructed a high-level faculty with reasonable age structure. All academic leaders in different research orientations enjoy certain degrees of academic influence both nationally and internationally. In the lab, two have been included in The “Baiqianwan” Talent Project, two in New Century Distinguished Talents, two in the Leading Talents of Guangdong Province and three in Pearl River Scholars. One won the NSFC (National Natural Science Foundation of China) for Outstanding Young Scholars, one won Guangdong NSF Outstanding Young Scholars, one gained the honor of Excellent Teaching Achievement Award of Guangdong Province, one gained Excellent Teaching Achievement Award of Southern Guangdong, three received titles of Pearl River New Star in Science and Technology, and one was nominated by Thousand Talent Plan for Young Scholars. One received Outstanding Contribution Award in Preventive Medicine of China and one received the National May 1 Labor Medal. Three assumed the office of director-general or chairman of academies at provincial level or above and other seven deputy directors.
The lab has currently a faculty of 104 persons, among whom 55 (54%) have senior professional titles, including 22 (21.6%) professors and 33 (32.4%) associate professors; 66 (65%) got doctor’s degrees and 28 (27%) got master’s degrees; and 19 are supervisors of M.D. degree candidates and 21 are supervisors of M.M. degree candidates.
Faculties are now carrying out researches of NIH Project, NSFC Key Project, Key Project of a joint research program of NSFC and Guangdong Province, the sub- project of “973”, sub-project of National Key Technology Program as well as other research projects at provincial or municipal level. In the past three years, as the first author affiliation or the affiliation of corresponding authors, 115 SCI papers have been published with a total amount of IF 350.86. In recent years, eight scholarly monographs have been published and the lab has also obtained five inventive patents and five patents of utility model. Eight second-grade prizes have been awarded for the Scientific Research Achievements in the top three at military or provincial level.
The lab highlights cooperative researches and academic exchanges with research institutes and experts and scholars both in China and abroad. A stable working cooperation has been built with TDR (Tropical Disease Research) and the lab has also become the advising unit on malaria vaccines in Asia-pacific TDR. An extensive academic exchange has also been developed with universities and institutes both in China and abroad like Laboratory of Parasite Diseases, NIH, USA, University of Southern California, the University of Arizona, Protein Biochemistry Laboratory, University of Calgary, Canada, The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, etc.
Meanwhile, domestic academic exchanges and cooperation with related labs has also been carried out. A stable cooperative relationship has been established with Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Science, State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, Fudan University, National CDC Institute for Epidemiology, Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Science, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Tsinghua University as well as other three military medical universities and a close business relationship and program cooperation have also been established with related research institutes of tropical medicine in China as well.
The lab offers the chance for outstanding researchers to receive advanced study in international famous labs and carry out international cooperation and academic researches. The lab has also successively participated in NSFC Program of International Cooperation and Exchanges MircroRNA of Aedes Albopictus Blocking the Transmission of Dengue Fever (Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech., U.S.A.,2009-2011) and NIHR01 research program Impacts of Urbanization on Vector Biology and Transmission of Dengue in China (2010-2012), etc.
A series of research achievements have been obtained in major research disciplines, which has gained remarkable social and economic benefits and also played a significant role in the solution of major scientific and technological problems in Guangzhou, Guangdong or even in China, and promoted the advancement in all aspects such as technological innovation, technological progress, economic construction and social development both in Guangdong Province and China. The most significant achievements are as follows listed according to research orientations.
1. Research on Genomics and Proteomics of Important Pathogens in Tropical Regions
A comparative analysis was made systematically and deeply about regulating the specific-expressed genes during the stage of tachyzoite and bradyzoite of toxoplasma gondii, both vivo models and vitro models were established of mutual transformation between toxoplasma gondii Pru tachyzoite and bradyzoite, tachyzoite and bradyzoite were separated and purified, cloning sequencing was conducted on the promoter region of specific-expressed genes of tachyzoite (such as SAG1, LDH1, ENO2, etc.) and bradyzoite (such as SAG2C, LDH2, ENO1, etc.), and fragments and sequences were analyzed and identified in relation to their specific expressions; A second comparative analysis was made about the condition of histone modification and chromosome isomerization of tachyzoite and bradyzoite specific-expressed genes on the promoter region as well as its relationship with related specific-expressed genes; deep sequencing was conducted on sRNA of separated and purified Pru tachyzoite and bradyzoite and a complete analysis was made on the constitutive characteristics and specific-expressed profile with methodology of biological information science, and the molecular regulatory mechanism of opportunistic infection of toxoplasma gondii was clarified laying a theoretical foundation for the prevention and treatment of toxoplasma gondii. Research findings have been published in international professional journals like Mol. Cell. Biol., J Biol Chem., among which 18 are SCI cited papers with a total amount of IF 60, including 8 over 3.0, 4 over 5.0, and the highest IF 6.2.
2. Research on Integrated Prevention and Treatment of Major Tropical Infectious Diseases in Tropical Regions
(1) Research on Molecular Epidemiology of Dengue Fever in Tropical Regions
This research has proved that great influence has been exerted by urbanization on the ecology of larvae and adults of Aedes Albopictus and favorable conditions have been created for the breeding of Dengue Fever viral vectors, which confirmed that the environmental changes created by urbanization had affected the biology and vectorial capacity of Aedes Albopictus, identified the spreading mode of Dengue Fever in cities. The result explained the spreading mechanism of Dengue fever in urban areas and formulated effective measures on its prevention and treatment by researching on the popular Dengue Molecular Epidemics in Guangzhou urban areas and proved that the outburst of Dengue Fever had a close relation with the introduction and circulation of Dengue virus with new types of genes since Aedes Albopictus held different capability of spreading different Dengue viruses, and the most adaptable virus would become the most popular one.
(2) Research on Dengue Vaccine and its Antibody
Based on the constructed antibody library of Dengue Virus and its corresponding antigen epitope library, taking such technologies as the surface plasma resonance, yeast surface display and gene knockout of animal model to sift and identify major antigen epitopes, neutralizing epitope of Dengue virus was mapped. In combination with immune information science, computer simulation epitope and three-dimensional structure of an antibody-antigen complex, combinational optimization was applied to the conservative or immune-dominant epitopes, those antigen epitopes with low protective force or inducing antibody-dependent enhancement of virus infection were removed and shielded, and epitope vaccines were instructed to be designed. With the help of real-time cellular analysis system of Biacore and Xcelligence, the interaction of virus and antibody was analyzed, the influence of antibody on the fusion ability of Dengue virus and host cells was observed, and the molecular mechanism of antibody-mediated protective immune response was clarified. The research findings provided an antibody-mediated vaccine and a new strategy of drug design, contributing to the research and development of therapeutic antibody or inhibitors of viral fusion as well as the vaccine design of Dengue targeted epitopes.
Some research findings in this discipline have been published in some international professional journals like Hum. Reprod. Update., Cochrane DB Syst. Rev., Breast Cancer Res Tr., etc., among which 37 are SCI cited papers with a total amount of IF 113, including 13 over 3.0, 2 over 5.0 and the highest IF 8.85. Five national inventive patents have been obtained and four other applications are ongoing. A second-grade prize has also been granted for Science and Technology Award of Guangdong Province.
3. Research on Emergency Technology of Medical Prevention from Hazards of NCB (Nuclear, Chemistry and Biology)
(1) Research on Theoretical and Applicative Technology
Faculties have conducted technological researches on assessing the damage of disaster scene from nuclear, chemical or biological attack and developing the early warning system, optimized the monitor technology of all kinds of radiation, made treatment plans for acute radiation injury, carried out technological researches on the detection of chemical agents, abatement of pollution and prevention and treatment technology, established a comparatively perfect strain and virus seed preservation library and a template library of all-positive pathogen nucleic acid, developed the technology of fluorescent real-time PCR assay for the detection of 14 biological agents like Bacillus anthracis, Plague Jerson Bacteria, and Tur La Frances bacterium, etc. , and designed agent kits as well, and implemented the research on the special equipment and drug manufacturing and reserving for anti-NCB terrorism and formulated A list of Emergency supplies reserve in Guangzhou. The lab has preliminarily established a technological platform for preventing NCB terrorism and built a high-level innovative research team of anti-NCB terrorism including excellent academic leaders with reasonable age structure and complete research disciplines and cultivated a batch of innovative talents with excellent qualification and highly academic level. Scientific research findings have been published in international professional journals like J Virol.，Clin Microbiol Infect., among which 22 are SCI cited papers with a total amount of IF 59, including 8 over 3.0, 3 over 5.0 and the highest IF 5.6. Two scholarly monographs have been published. One invention patent and one new patent of utility model have been officially authorized and two inventive patents and four of utility models are ongoing. One first-grade prize was granted for Guangdong Teaching Achievement Award.
(2) Technological Application and Social Profits
The lab joined or organized a series of anti-terrorism exercises for five times in the Olympic Games, Beijing, the Asian Games, Guangzhou and World University Games, Shenzhen, held anti-terrorism and health emergency training courses eight times, and participated in formulating confidential anti-terrorism plan for the Asian Games, Guangzhou. The lab has also been granted the anti-terrorism designated inspection agency by Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department, which has exerted a certain influence inside or outside Guangdong. Faculties in the lab have been recruited as the anti-terrorism expert by Guangdong Anti-terrorism Coordination Group, the emergency expert by Emergency Management Office, the emergency expert by Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Health, the assessment expert by Guangdong anti-terrorism exercises, the consulting expert in decision making by Guangzhou Municipal People’s Government, and also nominated as the group leader of Group for Strategic Planning and Public Health of Supporting System for Emergency Technology in Dealing with Public Emergency in Guangdong Province and Group for Technological Development Plan and Public Security of 12 FYP in Guangdong Province, which has been an excellent model enhancing the influence of SMU with a good social service function.
4. Research on the Occupational and Environmental Health in Tropical Regions
A molecular mechanism of moderate hypoxia for accelerating effect of target organs like heart and brain was preliminarily clarified and the essence of life was recognized more deeply. Some target points increasing the tolerance of organisms and cells to damage stimulus have been identified and some new thoughts and measures have been put forward to prevent and treatment some major diseases like those vulnerable to ischemia and hypoxia, etc., and proper schemes have been proposed increasing the tolerance to hypoxia and other damage stimulus, promoting altitude acclimatization and increasing resistance to major diseases. Research findings have been published in international professional journals like ISME J., Mol. Med., etc., among which 36 are SCI cited papers with a total amount of IF 107, including 13 over 3.0, 3 over 5.0 and the highest IF 6.4. A second-grade prize has been awarded for Scientific Technology Award of Guangdong Province, and one national inventive patent has been authorized.
5. Research on Health Statistical Methodology
A patient-centered medical quality evaluation system has been established and a statistical measure was proposed for arbitrary weight of sensitivity and specificity based on diagnosis test and the other one for detection of imprinted genes and localization of genes vulnerable to diseases based on imprinting effect. A statistical model determining the relation between air pollution, weather and population mortality and incidence was established to be used on evaluating the effect of population health exposed to natural environment. A disease-risk estimation model was developed and the method for early assessment was provided for the mortality and risk factors of newly emerging major infectious diseases. Research findings have been published in international professional journals like American Journal of Epidemiology, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, etc., among which 10 are SCI cited papers with a total amount of IF 36, including 1 over 3.0, 4 over 3.0 and the highest IF 6.4. A planned textbook for postgraduate students has been published.
2. Research on Integrated Prevention and Treatment of Major Infectious Diseases in Tropical Regions
25 projects have been implemented with a total amount of 15.7 million yuan, among which 13 have finished and 12 are ongoing, including one for the Leading Talent of Guangdong Province, one for Cross-Discipline Innovative Team, one for sub-project of a joint research program of NSFC and Guangdong Province, one for a cooperative project with NIH, U.S.A. and eight for General Programs of NFSC.
3. Research on Anti-NCB Medical Preventive Emergency Technology
33 projects have been implemented with a total amount of 6.64 million yuan, among which 21 have finished successfully and 12 are ongoing, including major projects like one for Key Project of Science and Technology of the Asian Games, Guangzhou, four for General Programs of NFSC and one for New Star of Pearl River Science and Technology, Guangzhou.
4. Research on Occupational and Environmental Health in Tropical Regions
54 projects have been implemented with a total amount of 17.53 million yuan, among which 30 have finished successfully and 24 are ongoing, including major progects like one for sub-project of NSFC Key Project, one for New Century Outstanding Talents Supporting Plan of Ministry of Education and 11 for General Programs of NSFC.
5. Research on Health Statistical Methodology
21 projects have been implemented with a total amount of 5.68 million yuan, among which 10 have finished successfully and 10 are ongoing, including major projects like one for NSFC Outstanding Young Talents, five for General Programs of NSFC and three for NSFC for the Youth.