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NIH funds 10 international centers of excellence for malaria research

In an effort to accelerate the control of malaria and help eliminate it worldwide, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced approximately $14 million in first-year funding to establish 10 new malaria research centers around the world.

The seven-year awards will establish the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMRs) in regions where malaria is endemic, including parts of Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Latin America. These regions include some of the focus countries of the President's Malaria Initiative, an effort that since 2005 has worked to fight malaria in the regions most affected by the disease. Infection by malaria-causing parasites results in approximately 240 million cases around the globe annually, and causes more than 850,000 deaths each year. Teams of scientists involved in the ICEMR program will be conducting research in more than 20 countries.

"One of our primary goals with these centers is to fund cutting-edge research in malaria-endemic areas that will keep up with the rapidly changing epidemiology of the disease," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

Malaria has been eliminated from many parts of the globe, but 40 percent of the world's population still live in areas where they are at risk for contracting the disease. According to Lee Hall, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Parasitology and International Programs Branch in NIAID, sustainable and effective malaria control requires research in multiple settings on the complex interactions among the parasite, the mosquito vector, the local ecology and the human host.

"The ICEMR program seeks to address this need by creating a network of multidisciplinary research centers in malaria-endemic settings," Dr. Hall says. "The centers aim to generate critical knowledge, tools and evidence-based strategies to support intervention and control programs by government organizations and health care institutions."

The centers will integrate clinical and field approaches with laboratory-based immunologic, molecular and genomic methods. They will adapt their research to changes in malaria epidemiology and emerging research needs as well as opportunities within the specific regions. Their findings are expected to help inform how new interventions and control strategies are designed and evaluated in the future.

Each center will

  • Design and conduct multidisciplinary research on the epidemiology, transmission and pathogenesis of malaria in endemic geographic regions
  • Design and conduct special projects to capitalize on new opportunities and emerging public health needs
  • Develop and conduct training and career development programs for researchers from malaria-endemic areas

Overall, these centers are expected to bring critical infrastructure to these endemic regions and help build training and research capacity to combat malaria worldwide.

The principal investigators selected to establish the ICEMRs are as follows:

  • Malaria Transmission and the Impact of Control Efforts in Southern Africa
    Principal Investigator: Peter Agre, M.D.
    Lead Institution: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

  • Center for the Study of Complex Malaria in India
    Principal Investigator: Jane Carlton, Ph. D.
    Lead Institution: New York University School of Medicine, New York City

  • Southeast Asia Malaria Research Center
    Principal Investigator: Liwang Cui, Ph.D.
    Lead Institution: Pennsylvania State University, University Park

  • Program for Resistance, Immunology, Surveillance & Modeling of Malaria in Uganda
    Principal Investigator: Matthew Dorsey, M.D.
    Lead Institution: University of California, San Francisco

  • Latin American Center for Malaria Research and Control
    Principal Investigator: Socrates Herrera-Valencia, M.D.
    Lead Institution: Caucaseo Scientific Research Center, Cali, Colombia

  • Research to Control and Eliminate Malaria in SE Asia and SW Pacific
    Principal Investigator: James Kazura, M.D.
    Lead Institution: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

  • Population-based Approach to Malaria Research and Control in West Africa
    Principal Investigator: Donald Krogstad, M.D.
    Lead Institution: Tulane University, New Orleans

  • Malaria Evolution in South Asia
    Principal Investigator: Pradipsinh Rathod, Ph. D.
    Lead Institution: University of Washington, Seattle

  • Determinants of Malaria Disease in Malawi
    Principal Investigator: Terrie Taylor, D.O.
    Lead Institution: Michigan State University, East Lansing

  • Peruvian/Brazilian Amazon Center of Excellence in Malaria
    Principal Investigator: Joseph Vinetz, M.D.
    Lead Institution: University of California, San Diego


Contact: Nalini Padmanabhan
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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