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Quito, Ecuador Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador

Site Institution: Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador (USQE)
U.S. Institution: UC Berkeley
Research Areas: Antimicrobial Resistance, Livestock System and Zoonotic Enteropathogen Transmission, Dengue, Zika

Site Description:
Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) is a liberal arts non-profit, private institution located in Quito, Ecuador. It was the first completely private self-financed university in Ecuador and the first liberal arts institution in the Andean region. Since 2009 USFQ has ranked first in Ecuador for the number of peer-reviewed scientific publications. The university now enrolls 8,500 students, 8,000 of whom are undergraduates. The university each year receives about 100 indigenous students, and 1,000 international students participate in USFQ academic programs. In addition, some USFQ programs have ABET and AMBA accreditation.

The partnership between UC Berkeley and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) dates back more than fifteen years focused on how changes in the social and natural environment, mediated by road construction, affect the epidemiology of pathogens causing diarrheal diseases, and the spread of antimicrobial resistance. One of the current projects examines the role of plasmids in antimicrobial resistance gene transmission in order to elucidate the mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer among commensal E. coli transmitted between domestic animals and children. The team’s initial work has identified plasmids, rather than dissemination of clonal E. coli strains, as the primary mechanism by which antimicrobial resistance is spread between children and animals, including within small-scale livestock and poultry production systems that are widespread in low- and middle-income countries.

The area is located in the Ecuadorian province of Quito and comprises six rural parroquias east of Quito, and approximately 60 neighborhoods. At USFQ, Dr. Gabriel Trueba, a veterinary microbiologist by training, directs the Microbiology Institute, and currently serves as the local PI on three NIH research awards. Potential research areas for Fogarty Global Health fellowships at this research site include examining how economic, social and psychological factors drive the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in small- and large-scale food-animal production systems; how genetic elements, including plasmids, integrons and transposons, affect the dissemination of resistance genes between bacterial strains, species and genera, particularly in food animal production systems—from small- to industrial-scale; and how small-scale livestock systems affect zoonotic enteropathogen transmission among infants and young children who are vulnerable.

Additional research is focused on dengue and Zika studies involving clinical, epidemiological, community-based and information technology for health programs, including a community-based implementation project to mobilize residents against Aedes aegypti, the main vector for Arbovirus transmission.

USFQ is the only university in the world that owns and operates an undergraduate campus in the Galapagos Islands. In addition to this, in 2011, USFQ and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill co-founded the Galapagos Science Center (GSC), a research center dedicated to scientific development in the Galapagos Islands. Additionally, USFQ runs a research station in the Amazon basin called. Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS). Located within the world's most incredible biodiversity hotspot and one of the planet's last wilderness areas, the station's primary goal is to understand nature better to implement appropriate and effective conservation strategies.

USFQ has over 100 Bilateral Partnerships for Research and Exchange and is also a member of prestigious International Networks to strengthen its international curriculum. These international networks include Berklee Global Partners, Paul Bocuse Alliance, Global Liberal Arts Alliance (GLAA), Hemispheric University Consortium (HUC), and The Association for the Pacific Rim (APRU). USFQ works with these networks to strengthen its international curriculum in various areas such as liberal arts with GLAA, innovation with HUC, and sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals with APRU.Laboratory of Dr. Gabriel Trueba, Director of the Microbiology Institute: Dr. Trueba’s labs provide for culture-based isolation and identification of bacterial pathogens and molecular microbiology research. The lab consists of over 3000 square feet and is dedicated to public health and veterinary microbiology. Both Dr. Graham and Dr. Trueba will have office space provided throughout the period of the proposed proect. The offices are equipped with a password-protected desktop computers, internet and Skype, locked file cabinets, and storage for project materials, and a telephone with long distance access.