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Infectious diseases, 50 scholarships for young researchers

The initiative has two objectives: stop the brain drain and keep the Italian leadership in infectious diseases-related research

Infectious diseases, 50 scholarships for young researchers

Claudia Astarita

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Not many people are aware that Italy is one of the leading country for infectious diseases-related research, and this is one of the reasons why the government has decided to offer 50 new scholarships to consolidate its already strong leadership in this field.

Today, hepatitis C, Hiv and fungal infections remains the infectious conditions with the greatest health impact as despite the enormous therapeutic advances achieved in recent years, they are still responsible for a considerable number of deaths.

Accordingly, develop future strategies to combat these infections has become the new challenge fof the fifty young Italian researchers who will receive a scholarships awarded by SIMIT- the Italian society of infectious and tropical diseases, with the financial support of the American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.

SIMIT's scholarship have been assigned to the three research areas previously mentioned: Hiv, Hcv and fungal infections. Today, the growing resistance to antibiotics is making more and more urgent to invest in infectious diseases-related research. Indeed, it has been predicted that by 2050 the resistance to antibiotics we are now developing will cause more deaths than cancer.

According to Massimo Andreoni, SIMIT Past President and Professor of infectious diseases at the Rome-based University Tor Vergata, "This initiative offers new opportunities to young researchers and allows them to conduct research independently" in Italy, rather that moving to other countries to follow their dreams.

In Italy there are now 350,000 estimated notified cases of Hcv infections, with about 10,000 deaths each year for cirrhosis or liver cancer. In the case of Hiv, about four thousand new infected are registered every year, and a person with Hiv requires drugs for life, with a cost ranging from eight thousand to ten thousand euros per year. Finally, there is a dramatic emergence of fungal infections that needs expensive treatments as well.

Considering the impact these infectious diseases have on people's life and the costs they have for the national health care system, there are now many people hoping that these young researchers will work hard to try to reduce them.

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