Camila Freitas

Dr Camila Freitas is a Post-graduate researcher and PhD student at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (FUMG), in Brazil. In this special VALID8 interview for world NTD Day 2024 we hear how Camila is contributing to the global fight against leishmaniasis.

1 - Who are you?

I am a biologist, nutritionist and researcher specializing in infectology and tropical diseases, particularly leishmaniasis.

2 - What do you do?

I am deeply involved in understanding the intricacies of leishmaniasis, focusing on innovative methods for diagnosis, treatment and vaccine development. My goal is to contribute to the global fight against this Neglected Tropical Diseases. 

3 - What is leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is a complex of diseases caused by parasites of the Leishmania genus transmitted through the bites of infected sandflies. It manifests in various forms, from skin lesions to potentially fatal visceral infections, posing a significant threat, especially in tropical and subtropical regions.

4 - How does leishmaniasis affect your country?

In my country, Brazil, leishmaniasis is a public health concern that can lead to a range of health issues, impacting both individual well-being and community health systems. Beyond the physical suffering caused by the diseases, there are profound socio-economic consequences, including long-term disabilities, social stigma and economic setbacks. 

5 - What is the most interesting thing you have learned about leishmaniasis?

One fascinating thing is how tiny sandflies can carry parasites and cause such diverse health issues!? But the most intriguing aspect is the adaptability of Leishmania parasites and their ability to manipulate the immune system. Understanding this dynamic interaction is crucial for developing effective interventions.

6 - Why are vaccines important in the fight against leishmaniasis?

Vaccines play a pivotal role in preventing leishmaniasis by priming the immune system to recognize and combat the parasite. This proactive approach is essential for controlling the disease`s spread and reducing the burden on healthcare systems.

7 - What are the main challenges to your research?

The primary challenges lie in developing a vaccine that is effective and can be used to lead to a smaller number of infected people. Besides finding better and quicker ways to diagnose (that are not only accurate but also accessible in resource-limited settings) and finding treatment options with minimal side effects and creating awareness about preventive measures are ongoing hurdles in our research.

8 - How does VALIDATE help you?

VALIDATE brings together researchers and institutions from around the world to collaborate on the development of vaccines for diseases caused by a range of pathogens, and can provide valuable support and resources, from collaboration opportunities, access to expertise, research funding, training and capacity building, among other things really needed in science to boost our work in this field.

Find out more

You can find more about Camila's research on her VALIDATE biography page.

There are more fascinating interviews with members of our extensive network of researchers on our VALID8? page. This is an ongoing series, so check back regularly.

If you are a member and would like to take part, you can email your answers to the following questions along with a captioned picture of your day-to-day work to