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One Health is the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain sustainable optimal health for the ecosystem*. It is a cultural and behavioral concept with socioeconomic elements and impact.

*a biological community of living organisms (humans, animals, plants, and microbes) and their physical environment interacting as a system

Rachel Curtis-Robles

A One Health Approach to Understanding Chagas Disease

Rachel Curtis-Robles, a Texas A&M Univerity PhD candidate in the department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, attended the 2016 American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, November 13-17, 2017. She presented a poster in the Young Investigator Award competition, as well as an oral presentation during the main content of the conference.  Her presentation was entitled “Spatio-temporal analysis and Trypanosoma cruzi infection in triatomines across the southern USA.” Rachel’s research focus is on studying the insects that transmit the parasite that can causes Chagas disease in humans and animals. Her research focuses on learning more about the insects and the parasite in order to protect public health. This research is an important One Health issue, since the parasite is zoonotic (can infect both humans and animals). Rachel’s attendance at the conference allowed her to network with other Chagas researchers, getting cutting edge information and conversations about the best methods and novel techniques that can be used to learn more about this disease system. Receiving the Texas A&M One Health Student Travel Award allowed Rachel to focus on preparing her poster and presentation, as well as attending multiple days of the conference for additional networking opportunities.

Rachel was mentored by Dr. Sarah Hamer, Assistant Professor in the department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“Rachel has devoted the past few years to building a citizen science program on the topic of the blood-sucking insect vectors that can spread the Chagas disease parasite," Dr. Hamer said. "She had educated the public on how they can protect themselves and their animals from infection, and also engaged them to collect over 3,000 ‘kissing bugs’. This is a huge sample size that allows unprecedented insight into the biology of these vectors across the southern United States.  In Atlanta, Rachel had the opportunity to share her analyses of vector occurrence with leaders in the tropical medicine community.  We look forward to getting Rachel’s results in the hands of public health officials to help guide interventions to reduce the burden of this neglected tropical disease in Texas and elsewhere.”

Click here to view Rachel's poster.

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