Infectious Diseases

Full Title

Synergistic interactions of environmental degradation, socio-economic development and infectious disease dynamics in the Amazon region


The Amazon is changing rapidly due to human impacts. Deforestation initiated by colonization policies has changed land-type composition, economic activities, and the decisions and behaviors of millions of people who migrated to these frontiers.Economic activities have also altered the habitat of many species, including that of pathogens and their hosts. In particular, several studies have documented the impacts of socio-ecological changes on the population dynamics of vector-borne diseases.

Despite the recognition of their importance, mechanisms linking such economic activities to health remain poorly characterized for ecosystems undergoing large-scale deforestation, in particular the emergence, persistence, and decline of infectious diseases. This team of natural and social scientists will investigate these mechanistic linkages between land-use changes, socio-economic conditions, human decision-making, and infectious diseases in frontier regions of the Amazon.

This Pursuit will use data from land-use changes, disease records, and socio-economic surveys to map spatio-temporal patterns of disease transmission onto socio-economic changes underway in the Amazon, and vice-versa. The team will deliver a framework for formulating and parameterizing models of vector-borne diseases in landscapes undergoing rapid transformation. The modeling approach will build upon new economic methods for incorporating human decision-making/behavior in response to social and ecological heterogeneity in the built environment, as well as external forces and incentives. The team will apply this framework to the states of Acre in Brazil and Loreto in Peru to investigate alternative developmental pathways that represent possible win-win situations for health, the environment, and people’s ability to move out of poverty.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Mercedes Pascual, University of Chicago
Andrew Bell, New York University
Gabriel Carrasco Escobar, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Marcia Castro, Harvard University
Claudia Codeco, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz
Zulma Cucunuba, Imperial College London
Giulio de Leo, Stanford University
Andrew Dobson, Princeton University
Amir Jina, University of Chicago
Raquel Lana, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz
Rachel Lowe, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Santos Mauricio, University of Chicago
Javier Perez-Saenz, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Antonio Miguel Vieira Monteiro, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais

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