Trinity College Professor of Anthropology James A. Trostle is a co-principal investigator on a research study that recently received a four-year grant award of $2,666,768 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The University of Michigan is the primary grantee, with $209,745 of the grant designated for Trinity. The grant supports research examining the development and spread of two infectious diseases—Zika and dengue, both transmitted by the same mosquito species.
The project, Zika and Dengue Co-Circulation Under Environmental Change and Urbanization, builds on Trostle’s prior research into infectious diseases and represents the fifth in a series of research projects Trostle has conducted in Ecuador. Trostle joins Joseph Eisenberg of the University of Michigan, who is the principal investigator, and a team of scientists from Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, Emory University, Universidad Central del Ecuador, and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as others from the University of Michigan. As a co-principal investigator, Trostle is responsible for coordinating the collection of the social and cultural data required for the project.
The ultimate goal of the team’s work is to better understand how diseases move across landscapes. “Horses, canoes, or on foot,” Trostle said, “That’s how people got around before. Now with the construction of a road, how will this impact the health of that community?” Trostle noted that in previous studies, the more remote villages were, the healthier they were. This study will help to explore social relationships that develop with more connectivity between people and villages, as well as how this interaction influences the transmission of diseases.
The NIH grant also will engage Trinity students through two student research stipends per year, including one expenses-paid trip to Ecuador for summer research.
Trostle, a Trinity faculty member since 1998 and an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Chile since 2015, has spent nearly two decades studying the relationship between diseases and their transmission in rural and urban communities. His work in epidemiology has spanned more than 25 countries.