Internationally recognised malaria researcher Professor Alan Cowman from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK's peak academy promoting excellence in science.
Professor Cowman is one of 44 new fellows inducted to the Royal Society in 2011, including four Australians. Fellows are nominated and selected through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science.
Professor Cowman has had a major impact on infectious disease research in the field of malaria. He has spent the past 30 years studying the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most deadly form of malaria in humans. The research has led to a better understanding of how the malaria parasite evades detection by the human immune system and how it becomes resistant to anti-malarial drugs.
Professor Cowman said he was deeply honoured to receive the nomination and be elected to the society. "It is very pleasing to receive the award because it recognises the quality and impact of our research in malaria, an area in which Australia makes a major contribution," he said. "I would like to thank and acknowledge my mentors and importantly the colleagues with whom I have worked and collaborated over the years to make our work successful. I am indebted to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for its continuing support of our research which has been so important to our success."
Each year almost 250 million people contract malaria, and one million people, mostly children, die from the disease. "Malaria presents an enormous health burden but also has a major impact on social and economic development in countries where the disease is endemic," Professor Cowman said. "New therapies are urgently needed."
Professor Cowman has made major contributions to understanding drug resistance, elucidating the mechanism of resistance to some of the most important antimalarial drugs. Th
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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute