This Saturday, community members are invited to attend Valley Fever Research Day at the UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research. The event is an opportunity for researchers from UCSF Fresno, UC Merced, and Fresno State to connect with community members who have been impacted by the disease.
“The goal is to help us as researchers understand more about valley fever, and about the impact on people’s lives, and to form partnerships to make changes, and address issues to improve people’s lives,” says Paul Brown, director of the Health Sciences Research Institute at UC Merced.
Brown says community input could shape research into the disease.
“Change has to be made in partnership with communities, not from above,” he says.
The forum is one of the first steps in a plan to develop a regional consortium focused on the disease.
Michael Peterson, the chief of medicine for the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program, says university researchers are interested in collaborating with public health departments in the region and area doctors to create a “virtual” valley fever center. It would be similar to the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona.
“It means that it’s not necessarily a bricks-and-mortar building, but rather it’s a center that brings together people and expertise, where they are collaborating and communicating, and not always being in the same room,” Peterson says.
The goal of the partnership, he says, is to work together to address issues related to valley fever, like improved prevention, detection and treatment of the disease. It could also drum up research funding.
“No one of us has the entire picture, but all of us together can really begin to address the full picture of this disease,” he says.
Peterson says a plan and timeline for the center has not been established yet, but “the Valley has really waited a very long time for something like this to come together. I don’t see why – with the interest we have – we can’t push forward on a very aggressive timeline.”
The event is free and open to the public.