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Martha in Milan: attending the ESCMID Post-grad Education Course

Our student Martha Chipinduro has recently been accepted to the PhD Medical Research - International Health program at the Center for International Health, University of Munich (LMU) in Germany, which she begins in October 2023. She is already gaining considerable experience and training, most recently at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) in Milan. Below, she describes her experience.

"It was a great privilege to attend the ESCMID Postgraduate Education Course, ‘’How to use genomic data for optimizing the management of tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infections`` held in Milan, Italy from 6th-7th September 2023. Before I summarise my experience of the course, I must mention that on my flight, how delighted and surprised I was, by the magnificent view of the ice-capped Alps mountains towering above the clouds!

In Milan, the course brought together young microbiologists and clinicians currently involved in the use of new generation sequencing (NGS) for TB diagnosis and drug resistance prediction. The overall aim was to provide guidance on how to integrate both phenotypic and genotypic drug susceptibility testing for the management of drug-resistant tuberculosis and to understand the inherent limitations of either technique.

The presenters were experienced and highly-regarded researchers and clinicians, such as Daniella Cirillo, Stefan Niemann, Christoph Lange, Paolo Miotto, Philip Supply and many others who are pacesetters in the field. They inspired us with their knowledge and thought-provoking questions through lectures and observations during the participants case presentations. These presentations provoked lively and constructive discussions on the best approach to management.

The presentations made on the ‘’Needs and challenges of targeted NGS implementation in high burden settings (India/Eswatini/Namibia/Moldova)’’ were of particular interest to me. Some challenges were universal and others quite contextual. I believe understanding these challenges along with possible ways of overcoming them is fundamental as sooner or later, most settings will implement NGS. Another great experience at these events is that you get an indication of upcoming releases and so I can say that in the near future expect a new version of the Deeplex® Myc-TB; a game changer that is able to detect tuberculosis from patient samples with very low bacterial load. Also forthcoming will be an updated version of the WHO catalogue of drug resistance mutations featuring resistance mutations to bedaquiline among others.

Lastly, you cannot be in Milan and not do as the Milanese do – indulge in the delectable pasta whilst soaking in the legacy of Leonardo Da Vinci which is evident all around! I am truly grateful to the Research Center Borstel, Germany and the ERASE-TB study who supported my attendance to the course."




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