Instrumental AccessInstrumental Access 2019:
Ivan Horbachevsky Ternopil State Medical University
Department of Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Dermatology & Venereology

In Ukraine, building infrastructure to fight Lyme disease

  • Dr. Mariia Shkilna (standing, far right) teaches immunoblot analysis to fourth-year medical students

  • Researchers doing rtPCR on tick DNA

  • Dr Stepan Podobivskyi, associate professor of microbiology, identifying tick species

  • Dr. Olha Marchuk, lab Manager, and PhD students Kateryna Shtokailo and Rami Alabdulhadi Марчук perform immunoblotting

  • Medical intern Mariana Huk uses a 30 year old immune fluorescent microscope. She detects antibodies in blood serum developed after tick bites.

  • Students, faculty, and staff of the Laboratory of Tick-borne Diseases

Meet our Awardee

Ivan Horbachevsky Ternopil State Medical University is one of Ukraine's top medical schools,

Located in Western Ukraine, the university trains doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals. Courses are taught in Ukranian, Russian and English, and diplomas are recognized by the WHO, the US Department of Education, and throughout the European Union.

The Department of Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Dermatology & Venereology supervises coursework in epidemiology and infectious diseases.

Research Areas

The department's current research focuses on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

"Modern equipment will allow us to increase the scientific level of research and reach the international level. We hope that our experience, reflected in international publications, will be useful to other countries."

-Dr. Mykhailo Andreichyn, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, Skin, and ST Diseases

Fighting the Spread of Lyme Disease in Ukraine: Dr. Mariia Shkilna

In Ukraine, Lyme disease is emerging as a major threat to public health. Cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are believed to have increased by a factor of 60 over the past two decades, but the epidemic is not well understood.

Dr Mariia ShkilnaМariia Shkilna, MD, PhD, an associate professor at Ivan Horbachevsky Ternopil State Medical University, is looking for answers.

In collaboration with two groups of researchers from neighboring Poland, where a sharp increase of Lyme disease has also been observed, Dr. Shkilna is spearheading an effort to understand how tick-borne diseases are spreading in the region—and how to stop them.

Because they are at particularly high risk, the first priority was to study forestry workers. Shockingly, around half of the Ukranian  forestry workers tested positive for Lyme disease. In comparison, 2-17% have tested positive in other European countries where this population has been studied.

"Given the large number of the foresters infected with Lyme disease, we are working to have it recognized as an official occupational disease," says Dr. Shkilna. "This will allow the foresters to receive free means of tick protection, as well as free screening, treatment and rehabilitation."

With equipment from Instrumental Access, Dr. Shkilna hopes to expand the project to other groups that are at particularly high risk because of where they work, including farmers and military personnel.

Other goals include working with the regional government to step up tick control measures in popular recreational areas, and offering free Lyme disease testing to the public.

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Our entire department is excited for the possibility to work with modern equipment suited to our research needs."

-Dr. Mariia Shkilna, associate professor, Ternopil State Medical University
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About the Department

Location: Ternopil, Ukraine
Year Established: 1957
Number of Faculty: 13
Number of Students Impacted Annually: 100 undergraduate, 10 graduate


Why Instrumental Access?

Equipment is needed to support research and teaching on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, which are newly-emerging threats to public health in Ukraine and the surrounding region.

Ternopil is currently the only university in Ukraine with a research program dedicated to this important issue.

The Department of Infectious Diseases also hopes to become a clinical training center for medical students and for continuing education of medical professionals on tick-borne diseases.

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About Instrumental Access

Instrumental Access empowers scientists in developing countries. It gives them the resources they need to pursue life-changing research and teach the next generation.

To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.