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Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium

The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp (Belgium) is an autonomous "Institution of Public Utility", formally founded in 1931, as a merger from a hospital for tropical diseases and a postgraduate school for tropical medicine, established in 1906. It has an inter-university position with a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), in which all Belgian universities are represented as well as international authorities. Its academic status was confirmed in a Decree of the government of the Flemish Community of Belgium that recognizes several "Institutes for Post-graduate Teaching, Research and Services", including ITM. ITM concluded with the Ministry of International Development Co-operation, its third comprehensive framework agreement for a multi-annual program (2008-2013) of training, field and policy research, and capacity strengthening in the South. Since 1997 the Ministries of Public Health and Social Affairs also recognize and support the role of the institute as federal reference center for tropical diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Thus, the public mandate of the ITM is fourfold: 1) an inter-university post-graduate school with an international calling, recognized and funded by the Flemish Ministry of Education and Science, 2) a biomedical and social science research center for tropical and poverty-related diseases and public health 3) a reference center for tropical and infectious diseases, including AIDS, recognized and funded by the Federal Ministry of Public Health and Social Affairs, 4) training, research and capacity strengthening on behalf of the Belgian Ministry of International Co-operation, and a reference and collaborative center for many national and international agencies.

The ITM is one of the world's leading institutions in education and research on tropical medicine and health care in resource-poor settings. Some 300 researchers work on human and livestock diseases: on 'major' diseases as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, but also on 'neglected diseases' as sleeping sickness, leishmania, worm infections, buruli ulcer. ITM coordinates and carries out research all over the world, in close collaboration with international partners.

Yearly, about 500 people follow advanced and postgraduate courses; more than 100 researchers are preparing their PhD. The medical services handle over 30 000 consultations a year.

When it comes to weighted research output, the ITM is the only Belgian institution listed in the European academic top-15 (Source: Third European Report on Science & Technology Indicators 2003). More than 75% of its publications appear in the top-25% of journals in its field.

Lut Lynen, MD, PhD. She trained in tropical diseases in 1986, worked between 1986 and 1992 for MSF Belgium in Chad, Sudan and Guinea. She then did her training in Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Antwerp, finishing in 1997. She worked for the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Cambodia from 1999-2003. Since February 2003, she is HIV physician at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, responsible for patient care, coordinating the SCART (Short Course on AntiRetroviral Treatment), eSCART, the HIV telemedicine project and supervising the ITM's overseas HIV projects. She is particularly interested in the topic of AIDS care in resource-limited settings and is the author of the MSF AIDS care guidelines. Since July 2011 she is head of the Department of Clinical Sciences at ITM.

Maria Zolfo, MD, specialist in Infectious Diseases (Catholic University, Rome). She trained in Tropical Diseases at Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, in 1998 and worked from 1999 till 2003 for an international organization, Medicus Mundi Belgium, in Zimbabwe. Since 2003, she is working at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, in the HIV/AIDS unit, as responsible of a Telemedicine project, giving distance advice on HIV/AIDS care to colleagues working in low resource settings. She organizes every year in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine (NST) of Tromsø, WHO Collaborating Centre for Telemedicine, a one-week Telemedicine/eHealth Training Workshop on how to develop Telemedicine and eHealth systems in low resource settings. She is particularly interested in the topic of AIDS care in resource-limited settings, PMTCT, PEP, HIV drug-resistance, second line ARVs, remote consultations and distance learning.
Brecht Ingelbeen, PharmD. Trained in Tropical medicine & International health at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp in 2010. Between 2008 and 2010, he worked in the medical department of a global vaccine manufacturer, and since 2011 as a field pharmacist for Médecins sans Fontières in HIV, maternal-and-child health, and emergency projects in Guinea, Pakistan and Turkey/Syria. He joined the ITM in Antwerp in december 2012, and is mainly involved in developing e-learning courses around evidence based medicine, clinical research, and antiretroviral therapy. He is further interested in access to medicines initiatives.