Objectives and benefits

Aim
The main objective of the Action is to establish a powerful transboundary network of partner institutions across Europe that are involved in education and research related to arthropod-transmitted infectious diseases of man and animals, a network addressing the growing importance of vector-borne diseases at a time of Global Change, all integrated under the One Health concept, and reflecting the complexity and demands of current high-end research.
Objectives
1. To implement the “One Health” interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary concept in the field of vectors and VBDs within its various components: research, diagnosis and surveillance, health policies and education.
2. To train young scientists during Training Schools (TSs) and Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) in top laboratories in emerging topics like next generation sequencing, barcoding, GIS, spatial modelling and phylogenetics, all to be applied in their on-going and future research related to vectors and VBDs.
3. To train young scientists in general research issues by organizing workshops during Annual Conferences (AC) dedicated to grant proposal writing, manuscript writing and research management.
4. To indicate and select appropriate laboratory diagnostic methods and environmental monitoring protocols as standard working approaches to vectors and VBP surveillance.
5. To implement standardized and modern research tools in the daily research routine in a concerted effort to facilitate a coordinated metaanalysis of the results.
6. To implement the use of “in vitro” methods for the study of VPS (e.g. artificial feeding systems) in order to minimize the use of laboratory animals.
7. To implement a standardized medical terminology on vectors and VBPs and diseases considering the “One Health” concept.
8. To facilitate transfer of knowledge between experts from COST countries and to foster cooperation with experts from non-COST countries through ACs.
9. To present the results to stakeholders and health authorities as a basis for their decisions on health issues.
10. To improve the human and veterinary health and environmental policies related to VBPs in the COST countries by publishing guidelines for diagnosis, environmental monitoring and disease surveillance.
11. To disseminate scientific information for the benefit of the society and scientific community.
How networking within the Action will yield the objectives?
The experts included in this Action are very diverse regarding their scientific field, background qualifications and country of origin. The network includes medical doctors, veterinarians, biologists and geneticists coming from various systems (i.e. research, education, diagnostic, clinics) across 22 COST countries and 3 non-COST countries. The networking will include both vertical and horizontal activities within and across the Working Groups, respectively, and gathers leading scientists from a very broad collection of complementary disciplines: parasitology, microbiology, virology, infectious diseases, arachno-entomology, epidemiology, population ecology, biochemistry, molecular biology, GIS, phylogenetics, phylogeography, tropical medicine etc. Each team involved in the Action is funded by national or international research programmes. Hence, evaluation of data of such heterogeneity, but all related to the same topic (i.e. vectors and VBPs) needs a networking interface provided by COST. This will be achieved by active collaboration, schemes of mobility for researchers and postgraduate students (STSMs, TSs), ACs, regular meetings and workshops, all for an efficient dissemination of knowledge. One of the most applied tools to be used for networking will be the
Action’s website which will be the link between all the participants and related activities. All the objectives of the Action are readily achievable, considering the human resources involved and the research and networking infrastructure available in the participating institutions.
Potential impact of the Action
The Action is expected to produce a significant constructive impact on several levels: scientific, social and environmental. The scientific impact refers to an overall quality of research, a more homogenous dispersal of scientific output between COST countries as well as an increased scientific background for early-stage researchers. By selecting also postgraduate but pre-doctoral (i.e. Masters level) students into the TSs, the critical mass for selecting the best doctoral students will be much higher and their inclusion more efficient. By implementing the next generation technologies and transdisciplinary techniques into an emerging medical field such as VBDs, the competitiveness of European research versus other well established or scientifically emerging regions (i.e. North America, Russian Federation or East Asia) will increase significantly. The social impact will be another highlight of the Action. The recommendations towards coordinated multinational surveillance systems and policies and standardized diagnostic of vector-borne infections will lead to improvement of action plans and possibly to changes in the European legislative framework as stated in the “Europe 2020” strategy: “to evolving […] new risks for health”.
Target groups/end users
The main target groups will be higher education and research institutes in the field of biomedical sciences, veterinary and animal sciences, biology and ecology. The Action will have a foremost strategic impact in translational biomedical research by aiming at important target groups: young researchers, Masters level and PhD students, diagnostic laboratory managers, assistants and technicians. Regulatory organs and policy makers are also considered to be target groups (i.e. national authorities, national medical and veterinary services, reference laboratories etc.). Moreover, a by-product of this Action will be the increased knowledge and awareness of medical doctors and diagnostic laboratory personnel by their attendance at scientific meetings as part of the Life-Long Learning strategy.