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Using GIS technology to stop spread of disease

Uriel Kitron (center) studies infectious diseases and the impact of human movement on the ecology of diseases.

Uriel Kitron has come a long way since his undergraduate degree in ecology.

“When I finished my PhD, I pretty much knew I would be interested not just in theoretical modeling of disease, but in a combination of the basic and the light research, specifically the interface of the ecology of animal and human disease,” says Kitron, who has become increasingly interested in and committed to global health issues.

Now chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at Emory, Kitron says his main contribution has been his approach of using math and geographic information systems to guide control agencies in the health industry. In his view, this method is highly relevant to conducting such control programs effectively.

“After my PhD, I did an MPH in epidemiology at the University of Michigan and that was the first time I actually could apply the theoretical and statistical approaches I had learned in my PhD to a human disease system,” he says. “That pretty much nailed it.”

And he hasn’t looked back. Immediately after his MPH, Kitron returned to Jerusalem, where he grew up, to study malaria-transmitting mosquitos. Since then, he has held positions at a number of universities while continuing his research. With three ongoing research projects in Peru, Argentina, and Kenya and a future project in Brazil, Kitron has created a research niche for himself studying infectious diseases and the impact of human movement on the ecology of diseases.

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