In Mali, the International Centers for Excellence in Research (ICER) program was established based on experience gained from NIAID’s long-standing malaria research collaboration with Malian scientists, academic leadership, and the Malian government. Malaria researchers from NIAID’s Division of Intramural Research initiated a collaboration focused on malaria entomology in 1989 with counterparts at the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bamako. At the time, Mali was selected as an ideal site for collaboration because of a recognized team of Malian researchers already working on the genetics and cytogenetics of Anopheles gambiae, the primary vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Shortly thereafter, the Malaria Research and Training Center (MRTC) was established at the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy to facilitate research in collaboration with NIAID and other international partners.
The research laboratories and support facilities at the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy (which became the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Oral Surgery in 1995 when the University of Mali was founded) were expanded significantly in the early 1990s with support from NIAID and other international partners. The scope of research activities was further expanded in subsequent years to include other aspects of malaria research and research on other parasitic and viral diseases. Since 2002 when the ICER was established in Mali, the MRTC has continued as a Malian entity affiliated, as are other research program entities, with the NIAID-supported ICER.
Today, the Mali ICER consists of multiple laboratories, including a College of American Pathologists (CAP)-accredited clinical laboratory and a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory at the Faculties of Medicine and Oral Surgery and of Pharmacy (which were separated when the University of Bamako—previously named the University of Mali—was divided into four universities with these faculties falling under the University of Sciences, Techniques, and Technology of Bamako or USTTB) and several clinical field sites within a 100 Km radius of Bamako, in addition to one on the Bandiagara plateau. The current ICER research areas include: malaria epidemiology and vaccine studies, malaria immunological studies, ecological studies on the malaria mosquito vectors; basic and clinical studies in leishmaniasis; clinical studies on filariasis and clinical studies on HIV/TB co-infections.
In 2008, intramural scientists from the NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Montana initiated studies on arthropod vectors and animal reservoirs that transmit relapsing fever. In 2009, RML scientists and their Malian collaborators confirmed the presence of Lassa virus in Mali. These scientific teams are now developing a research program to screen for and study other hemorrhagic fever viruses in the country. As part of its program in Mali, NIAID has provided significant training opportunities to young Malians both in- country as well as at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Mali ICER maintains several field and clinical research sites throughout the country, including sites for field testing of candidate vaccines and drug testing. The center has conducted major studies in Mopti, Koro, Niono, Bandiagara, Bancoumana, Sotuba, Donegebougou, Kenieroba, Tienegoubougou, Kambila, Kalifabougou, Ouelessebougou, and Thierola.
The current staff consists of approximately 220 researchers, administrative staff, support personnel, and students. All Malian staff members are supported through a contract with the USTTB. Of special note, the center hosts several senior Malian medical, pharmacy, and biology students, as well as students from neighboring African countries who are conducting hands-on research for their M.D., Pharm.D., and Ph.D. theses.
NIH-supported programs are overseen by two American direct hires: a resident scientist who manages day to day scientific operations; as well as a country representative and director of the NIAID/NIH Mali Office, who administers programs and serves as a liaison between the U.S. and Malian government and non-government entities.
Since the beginning of the collaboration in Mali, NIH has facilitated the training of Malian students in Mali, in the United States, and at various research centers in Canada, Japan, and Europe. The Mali ICER also provides a unique venue to train scientists from the United States and other countries. USTTB is now part of the NIH graduate partnership program, which offers an opportunity for doctoral candidates at USTTB to complete their research thesis in laboratories at NIH and then return to Mali to defend their theses and obtain their doctoral degrees from USTTB.
Following are summaries of the various NIH-funded projects currently being conducted at the Mali ICER.
Study to assess the relationship of co-infection with HIV and tuberculosis:
Studies aimed to characterize and understand
Last Updated May 28, 2014
Last Reviewed May 28, 2014