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Toph Allen

Research Scientist

Toph Allen

Toph Allen, Research Scientist at EcoHealth Alliance, applies his expertise in social science, epidemiology and statistical modeling to improve our understanding of disease emergence.
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Project Deep Forest

The Issue

Rapid deforestation all over the world is a major cause for concern from a conservation and public health perspective. Several hundred species are a part of the delicate ecosystems created by the richly biodiverse forest environments. Deforestation and human encroachment displaces these species and forces heightened interaction between people and animals indicating a high potential for disease transmission as we have seen from the stories of Nipah Virus, Avian Influenza and SARS emergence.

EcoHealth Alliance's Response

Following our work on the Hotspots map, Project Deep Forest was developed on the assumption that the greater the biodiversity in a given area, the greater the diversity of pathogens.  As long as these areas of high biodiversity remain preserved in their natural state and free of human encroachment, then people are less at risk of emerging infectious disease. EcoHealth Alliance scientists have begun to test this theory in the forests of Manaus, Brazil, and Borneo, Malaysia. In the past year, our scientists have begun sampling species for pathogens in each country along a deforestation gradient, i.e., looking at areas with no deforestation, some deforestation, and areas where once pristine forests have been completely removed.

In each area, EcoHealth Alliance scientists will be investigating the number of viruses present to test the theory that higher biodiversity allows for a greater diversity of pathogens. Project Deep Forest allows us to test our Hotspots model, where areas with high biodiversity along with a high human population density are marked as highly likely for disease emergence.  UC Davis will be using our innovative methodology, developed for Project Deep Forest, for further pathogen sampling in Uganda.

Experts

Alessandra Nava

Alessandra Nava

Consulting Senior Scientist
DVM
PhD, Epidemiology

Carlos Zambrana-Torrelio

Carlos Zambrana-Torrelio

Research Scientist
M.Sc. in Biology
B.Sc. in Biology

Melinda Rostal

Melinda Rostal

Senior Research Scientist and Field Veterinarian
DVM
BA, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
MA, Public Health

Elizabeth Loh

Elizabeth Loh

Research Scientist
BS, Biological Anthropology and Spanish
MS, Conservation Biology

Kris Murray

Kris Murray

Research Scientist
BS, Ecology
PhD, Ecology and Conservation

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