Molecular Approaches to Clinical Microbiology in Africa

Course summary

The wind of change is blowing through clinical microbiology, not just in Africa but across the globe. Genome-based techniques are revolutionising the routine practice of the identification and characterisation of pathogens, opening many new opportunities and challenges in all areas of clinical microbiology from routine diagnosis to basic research. This course will examine the impact of these new approaches in the African context with a combination of lectures and tutorials with laboratory and computer practical sessions. The course will provide clinical microbiologists and laboratory scientists working in Africa with a concise yet comprehensive overview of the latest research and practice in this essential area, with an emphasis on how these techniques can be applied day-to-day in the African setting, especially when resources are limited. There will therefore be an emphasis on approaches that are: (i) currently applicable in African laboratories; (ii) likely to be applicable in Africa in the foreseeable future; or (iii) of value to participants in interpreting the literature and assessing the likely utility of new technologies as they are developed.

The course philosophy is to combine an understanding of the latest research techniques and theoretical approaches with practical methods to provide a foundation-level of understanding of the philosophy, methods and vocabulary of molecular techniques for those primarily trained in culture-based microbiology.

PLEASE NOTE: Travel bursaries are available to attend this course, see below for details.
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The course will be based around three themes, chosen to represent three of the most pressing clinical imperatives in clinical bacteriology throughout the continent: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; enteric bacteria; and encapsulated bacteria. For each of these themes the following approaches will be covered:

1. Basic molecular biology techniques including preparing, handling, and storing DNA.
2. PCR, including real-time PCR, methods and applications.
3. Determining sequence variation, its visualisation and
interpretation, concentrating on conventional approaches.
4. Bioinformatic analysis of molecular and genomic data, particularly the exploitation of web-based tools.
5. Future technologies, overview and potential for clinical microbiology.

These techniques will be explored in the lectures and tutorials and employed during the course practical sessions in the cross-cutting themes of pathogen detection and characterisation, including antimicrobial resistance and the evolution of pathogens, and the application of the data in the improvement of interventions to reduce disease burden.

25 May - 1 Jun 2013
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