Partner 6 – University of Crete (UoC)

UoC, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, founded in 1973, is one of the best known Greek Universities for its achievements. The Laboratory of Clinical Bacteriology, Parasitology, Zoonoses and Geographical Medicine was established in 1985. It is a National Reference Center of Zoonoses and a WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Mediterranean Zoonoses since February 1995 (head Prof. Y. Tselentis). The following Diagnostic and Research Units operate under the Laboratory: Leishmania, Toxoplasma, Medical Entomology, Ricketsiae-Bartonella, Brucella, Food borne Infections, Hepatitis, Surveillance, Environmental and Water Microbiology, International Unit in Epidemiological Research and Intervention. The Laboratory employs 53 persons (Medical Doctors, Veterinarians, Entomologist, Biologists, Technicians, Secretary) and has more than 12 PhD students.

The specific research interests of the Parasitology Unit (head Assis. Prof. Maria Antoniou) is leishmaniasis and toxoplasmosis with emphasis on epidemiology and control. Regarding leishmaniasis: Five PhD students work in the laboratory on the epidemiology of the disease in Greece and Cyprus conducting sero-epidemiological studies, isolation of parasites from patients, dogs and sandflies; study the virulence and the resistance of isolates to drugs. Work is done on diagnosis of leishmaniasis in patients and dogs using serology, PCR and culture. The studies concern Greece and Cyprus. A new focus of L. donovani has been discovered in Cyprus in 2006. The vectors of Leishmania have been studied in different parts of Greece and Cyprus and in the insectarium colonies of local sandfly species were established and studied.

UoC has participated in the EDEN-Leish sub-project and now participates in the PhBD subgroup. Its main activity will be focused on studies concerning: the spread of Leishmania infantum into the North of Greece and the spread “of new“ strains and hybrids of L. donovani complex in the Mediterranean by parasite isolation and typing from patients, dogs and sandflies from different parts of Greece and Cyprus; It will help in the studies of Leishmania vector biology and population diversity with collections of sandflies in Greece and Cyprus; Will provide data on impact of topical application of novel insecticides and repellents to dogs and Leishmania control in the reservoir host.

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