This fall, Robert C. Spear, Ph.D., professor of environmental health sciences, will travel to China to be honored by the provincial government of Sichuan with its inaugural Jin Ding Award. The award will acknowledge Spear's decade-long commitment to understanding and controlling the incidence of schistosomiasis, a debilitating water-borne disease. According to the World Health Organization, schistosomiasis affects 200 million people worldwide and poses a threat to 600 million more in 76 countries.
Spear's collaboration with the Sichuan Institute for Parasitic Disease involves the collection of data using new technologies, such as global positioning systems for managing epidemiological and ecological data in an integrated data model. The work is of increasing relevance in China because of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, which will create new waterway links between previously isolated areas of schistosomiasis infection.