Tropical Medicine is the study of infectious diseases that historically were localized to tropical regions in the world. However, in todayʻs ea of globalization and modern transportation, diseases that were once confined to the tropics have spread geographically, as characterized by the global resurgence of infectious diseases such as dengue. As such, Tropical Medicine research has greatly increased in importance in recent years.
The Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology offers graduate programs leading to the MS and PhD degrees in Tropical Medicine. A major goal of the Tropical Medicine graduate program is to provide Hawaii and its Asian and Pacific Island neighbors with the expertise needed to conduct tropical infectious diseases research.
Tropical Medicine students and faculty perform studies on dengue, West Nile Virus, HIV/AIDS hepatitis, viral and bacterial encephalitis, malaria and Kawasaki disease. Multidisciplinary research projects encompass the fields of immunology, microbial pathogenesis, epidemiology, pharmacology, laboratory diagnostics, socio-ecological systems, and human microbial and vector ecology. Pharmacology research carried out in the department includes pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, molecular studies of drug metabolism, and reproductive pharamcology.
Certain research projects seek to answer fundamental questions associated with the transmission dynamics and pathogenesis of disease while others encompass translational studies to improve strategies for tropical disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Research can be laboratory-based, field based, clinic-based, or include a combination of all of three.
The department has formed research partnerships with several community hospitals and the State of Hawai`i Department of Health and provides instruction and expertise in bioterrorism preparedness and infectious disease diagnosis using the latest technologies. In addition to local collaborations, department faculty collaborate with several international institutions in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and Africa to conduct field research in infectious diseases. Consequently the Tropical Medicine program provides learning opportunities in a range of disciplines available in few other university programs.