USAID photo exhibit on Zika launches QBI symposium on arthropod-borne diseases

A curated photography exhibit chronicling the comprehensive response by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to Zika virus outbreaks in Latin America and the Caribbean opened with a reception on June 12 in Mission Hall on the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus.

Zika affected 48 countries and territories in the Americas from 2015 to 2017. While the number of suspected Zika cases has decreased since the outbreak, Zika remains a continuing threat.

Sponsored by UCSF’s Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI) with the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences (IGHS), the exhibit sets the stage for upcoming QBI-hosted programs on Zika and a QBI symposium at Mission Bay, June 18–19. Symposium participants share the goal of expanding the basic science frontiers of arthropod-borne diseases such as Zika and Lyme disease.

Rutherford, Krogan, and Baranick

George Rutherford, MD, director of Global Strategic Information, UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences (left); Nevan Krogan, PhD, director of UCSF Quantitative Biosciences Institute (center); and Eric Baranick, DM, MPH, senior Zika advisor at USAID, each spoke at the photo exhibit opening. Rutherford and Krogan co-hosted the event.

The exhibit—Stronger There, Safer Here—highlights USAID-sponsored Zika efforts in detection and prevention, clinical outreach and care, and professional training and public education in Latin America and the Caribbean. These efforts aim to reduce the potential impact of Zika and its spread to at-risk countries, such as the United States, and to strengthen the ability of countries to respond to potential future epidemics.

Zika is a viral infection transmitted primarily by bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which readily feeds on humans, can quickly adapt to new climates, is resistant to many chemical control agents, and whose eggs can hatch in tiny amounts of standing water. The virus can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her fetus during pregnancy, and through sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.

During pregnancy, Zika can cause fetal loss, stillbirth, and preterm birth, and can lead to a range of congenital abnormalities in the developing fetus and newborn, including microcephaly. The virus can also trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy, and myelitis, particularly in adults and older children.

Fabius and Guglielmo
Jacqueline Fabius, chief operating officer, UCSF Quantitative Biosciences Institute (left), with B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, dean, UCSF School of Pharmacy. Fabius and her QBI team organized the photo exhibit. Guglielmo introduced the exhibit and speakers.

Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms or have only mild symptoms, including fever, rash, and headache. There is no available treatment for Zika virus infection. While a number of Zika vaccine candidates are currently in development, ultimate success will “require sustained commitment and investment … of industry, researchers, and public health partners,” according to the World Health Organization.

Before its installation at UCSF, Stronger There, Safer Here was displayed at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The exhibit, with 30 images by professional photographers, accompanied by informational text and graphics, will remain on display in UCSF’s Mission Hall through July 30, 2019. Additional programs on the topic of Zika are being planned by QBI. Check the QBI website for details as program plans solidify.

Comments from exhibit partners

  • We’re very grateful to USAID for sharing this exhibit as we review the science that underlies potential treatments for devastating arthropod-borne diseases such as Zika.

    It’s imperative that as we work in our labs, far from the front lines, we work with clinical insight into the human toll of these diseases on people and communities, and with the knowledge of the heroic work of our health care colleagues on the ground. This photo exhibit is a reminder to us of the ultimate purpose of our science and the urgent need for effective therapies.

    —B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD
    Dean, UCSF School of Pharmacy
    (Infectious diseases pharmacist)

  • USAID is committed to learning and improving our programs and strategies through strengthening preparedness and response efforts with our partners, host governments, and internally.

    USAID greatly appreciates the Quantitative Biosciences Institute and the Institute for Global Health Sciences at UCSF for hosting this photo exhibit. Linking with cutting-edge research groups and academia such as UCSF is critical for responding to global health outbreaks in an effective and efficient manner.

    —Christina Chappell, MPH
    Deputy Director, USAID Office of Infectious Disease

  • While our scientists here at QBI use quantitative approaches to solve pressing problems in biology and biomedicine, we share with our USAID colleagues a certain approach to our work. We are both about collaboration and integration, whether across disciplines, across programs, or across communities.

    There is nothing more powerful—nothing that will solve a problem faster and more completely—than many minds with different perspectives focused together on a solution. USAID’s contributions to containing the 2016 Zika outbreak are proof positive of this concept.

    —Nevan Krogan, PhD
    Director, UCSF Quantitative Biosciences Institute
    (Senior author of two 2018 studies on how Ebola, dengue, and Zika viruses infect human cells)

  • The rapid emergence of Zika virus and its full range of clinical manifestations in the Western Hemisphere reminds us of the power of infectious diseases. Be they as exotic as Ebola virus or as well-known as measles—infectious diseases will continue to shape the future of humans for centuries to come. The story of Zika’s spread across the Pacific to Latin America and the Caribbean is a cautionary tale and one that we should remember carefully.

    —George Rutherford, MD
    Director, Global Strategic Information
    UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences
    Member, UCSF Global Disaster Assistance Committee
    (Committee assisted in efforts to contain the 2014–2015 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa)

Exhibition highlights

Not all Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, whose range extends into the U.S. and up the Atlantic seaboard, carry the Zika virus. By keeping Aedes mosquito populations under control, USAID is limiting the spread of those mosquitoes that do carry the Zika virus and reducing the risk of future Zika outbreaks.

mosquito range map and lifecycle diagram
Left: The range of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes extends from the upper half of South America northward into the United States South and into Baja California. Right: The Aedes lifecycle consists of these states: laying eggs, egg, larva, pupa, metamorphosis, and adult.

AFP/Martin Recinos

Infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can pass the Zika virus to humans. Reducing the number of these mosquitoes by interfering with their reproduction is one Zika-prevention method USAID is studying. Image used with permission from USAID.

Infant with microcephaly and mother
USAID/Thomas Cristofoletti/Ruom

Microcephaly, a condition characterized by an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development, is a birth defect associated with Zika infection. Babies affected by Zika, like this one in the Dominican Republic, receive specialized care thanks to USAID efforts to strengthen local health care systems. Image used with permission from USAID.

Mosquito technician and a local family
USAID/Stephen Kierniesky

Community buy-in and understanding are critical to the success of mosquito-control interventions. In Jamaica, a technician speaks with a family about the use of natural larvicide to eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Image used with permission from USAID.

Technician working with mosquitos in laboratory.
USAID/Thomas Cristofoletti/Ruom

USAID is strengthening the national research capacity in Zika-infected countries and setting the stage for a range of promising innovations that could help slow or stop the spread of the virus in years to come. As an example, insecticides are an important tool for fighting mosquito-borne diseases, but mosquitoes can become resistant when the same ones are used too much. In Peru, a technician captures mosquitoes for an insecticide resistance test. Image used with permission from USAID.

Volunteer and family.
USAID/Thomas Cristofoletti/Ruom

Showing at-risk families how to identify, prevent, and eliminate Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites near and around their homes is an important part of reducing Zika risk. Volunteers, like this one in the Dominican Republic, make regular household visits to help communities defend themselves against the virus. Image used with permission from USAID.


School of Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.