Pablo Tsukayama

Participant from Genomics and Epidemiological Surveillance of Bacterial Pathogens Course, Costa Rica (2017)

I am an Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) in Lima, Perú. My research interests lie at the interface of genomics, public health, and infectious disease epidemiology, with a focus on bacterial pathogens affecting Peruvian populations.

In 2017, I returned to Peru to establish a research group at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) after training abroad for nine years. At the time, there were no local genomics or bioinformatics capabilities at UPCH to support my research, but I was fortunate to secure federal funds early on to purchase an Illumina MiSeq instrument (one of the first in Peru) and kickstart local WGS-based surveillance studies. In July 2017, I attended the “Genomics and Epidemiological Surveillance of Bacterial Pathogens” Advanced Course in Costa Rica, which gave me a strong foundation to generate and analyse the first sets of bacterial genomes coming from my laboratory. It was a fantastic week where the participants, instructors, and organizers left a lasting impression.

Genomics and Epidemiological Surveillance of Bacterial Pathogens, Costa Rica (2017)

In 2018, sponsored by Newton-Paulet Fund, I spent 12 weeks at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, further training in bioinformatics with the group of Nick Thomson. This visit turned an application for the Wellcome Trust’ International Training Fellowships and an interview with the selection committee in November in London. The application was unsuccessful, but it enabled collaboration with Nick’s group on the genomics of Bartonella bacilliformis, a pathogen endemic to impoverished rural populations in the Peruvian highlands. Another highlight of this visit is that I got involved with Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences online courses programme, supporting the development of the “Bacterial Genomes: Accessing and Analysing Microbial Genome Data” course, on the FutureLearn platform. I now use this and other courses in the series to introduce my students at UPCH to topics on genomics and analysis of bacterial pathogen genomes.

In 2019 we brought the “Genomics and Epidemiological Surveillance of Bacterial Pathogens” to Lima. It was great to be on the trainer side and help new participants and local students acquire the tools I had learned a couple years earlier. The course was a rewarding experience for everyone involved at UPCH and lead to new collaborations with local and regional partners, resulting in our group securing two grants for studies on the genomic surveillance and transmission dynamics of M. tuberculosis and carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriacieae in Lima.

The next “Genomics and Epidemiological Surveillance of Bacterial Pathogens” course will be hosted by the Central Laboratory of Public Health and National University of Asunción, Paraguay

Students learning new skills in genomic surveillance

Attending the 2017 course in Costa Rica shaped my research in profound ways. It opened up a whole network of collaborators and training opportunities that have helped me advance my career and become one of the leading researchers in microbial genomics in Peru. I am also delighted to have been appointed International Fellow at the Wellcome Sanger Institute for 2020-2021.

I am glad to have been involved in subsequent courses and look forward to continued collaborations and new opportunities to further promote capacity building in Peru and Latin America.

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