Ebola colloquium sparks enthusiasm about combating diseases



On Tuesday October 28, Mark W. Kline delivered an extensive presentation on his experience fighting to prevent HIV and AIDS worldwide.  Kline originally ran a small pediatric treatment center in Romania for HIV/AIDS and then went on to open and lead several children’s centers in different eastern African countries.  

“A lot of the lessons learned from [dealing with] HIV/AIDS can be applied to [the] ebola[virus],” Kline said.  

Both viruses originated from similar climates in Africa, and both are hypothesized to have been transmitted from animals to humans.  Most importantly, both infections have social fears and stigmas associated with running indicative tests, which decrease the number of individuals willing to enter care centers.   

“Critics of the first children’s center I opened in Botswana warned that nobody would come in fears of being looked at differently, but mothers are more scared of their children contracting a virus as powerful as HIV,” Kline said. “The number of cases of ebola is still slowly increasing, and some of the major challenges are that we can’t control the vectors [organisms that spread disease], and that ebola is not seasonal.”

Sheryl Tynes, associative vice president for academic affairs, openly praised Kline in the questions and answers segment.

“It is an understatement to say that you make Trinity look great for what you’ve done.  We have many undergrads sitting here who are ready to change the world.  How do they do what you’ve done?”

Kline smiled hesitantly and insisted that students must remain “flexible and open-minded” in their fields so that they do not miss out on unexpected opportunities.   

“When I was in St. Louis working in pediatric research on infectious disease, my boss asked me one day, “˜are you willing to oversee the care of 70 children with HIV at Texas Children Hospital?’  I knew he had probably asked everyone else in the department, and nobody wanted to go because they had their own research agendas to stick to, but I said yes,” Kline said.

Kline’s lecture is part of the international studies colloquium, a global studies course.  One student taking the course had many positive things to say.

“I like how the colloquium not only provides a medical perspective on ebola but also goes into social and economic factors about this virus.  I can really see how beyond infected individuals, ebola affects entire nations. It really expands your horizons!” said Christiana Ellard, international studies major.

After the lecture was over, many students enthusiastically asked about anticipated future steps toward prevention.

“How can we get involved with work in different children’s centers?” said one student.

Kline allowed Robert Blystone, biology professor, to answer this question.

“Come knock on my door,” Dr. Blyestone said.