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Penn State to lead new international Center Of Excellence for malaria research
Date:7/13/2010

A researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will lead a seven-year, $14.5 million project to fight malaria in Southeast Asia.

Liwang Cui, professor of entomology, is the principal investigator for the Southeast Asia Malaria Research Center, one of 10 International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research announced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

About 40 percent of the world's population is at risk for malaria. An estimated 300 million to 500 million people worldwide contract the disease each year, and as many as 1 million of them die, according to Cui. Malaria is caused by a parasite carried by various species of mosquito.

The 10 new centers will address research needs in regions where malaria is endemic, including parts of Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Latin America. The Southeast Asia center will be a collaborative effort among Penn State, the University of California-Irvine and several institutions in China, Thailand and Myanmar.

"Southeast Asia accounts for 30 percent of global malaria morbidity and 8 percent of global mortality," Cui said. "We will build an international malaria center in this region that brings together diverse expertise from outstanding institutions to address urgent problems relevant to both regional and global malaria control."

Cui noted that various factors make malaria control a particular challenge in the region. "Different forms of the malaria parasite in Southeast Asia are carried by different vectors, each requiring different treatment," he said. "This is magnified by the limited scientific knowledge on the complex interaction between the human host, mosquito vectors and the parasite.

"There also are issues related to emerging drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most serious form of the disease, as well as problems with fake and counterfeit drugs circulating in the region," he exp
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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