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Contact Info

Dr. Malla Rao
Deputy Branch Chief
Parasitology and International Programs Branch
Email: mrao@niaid.nih.gov

International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR)

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Background

NIAID has a long history of supporting research and development activities to provide more effective strategies for controlling malaria. These activities include both basic and applied research on the parasite basic biology, pathogenesis, immunology, and epidemiology, as well as clinical research to develop novel drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines. The Institute has developed both the NIAID Strategic Plan for Malaria Research (PDF) and the NIAID Research Agenda for Malaria (PDF).

Despite advances, malaria remains a leading global public health concern. In fact, more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives in malaria-endemic regions. Control efforts have been effective in some areas but not very successful in others. This inconsistency has been associated with the emergence and spread of parasite drug resistance and insecticide-resistant mosquitoes.

Sustainable and effective malaria control requires better understanding of the complex interactions among the parasite, the mosquito vector, and the human host. A multidisciplinary approach is urgently needed to address these complex interactions at the molecular, cellular, and field levels in malaria-endemic regions. Pursuing answers to these questions will provide the knowledge base we need to improve clinical and field management of malaria and guide further research and development.

Reaching these goals requires a network of thoughtful researchers equipped with the right tools, knowledge, funding mechanisms, and relationships to launch successful scientific explorations. In April 2009, NIAID issued a Request for Applications inviting researchers around the world to submit grant proposals to establish ICEMRs. In July 2010, ten awards were made.

Ultimately, such a broad-based, multidisciplinary approach is expected to integrate clinical and field research with laboratory, molecular and genomic methods to enhance the basic research underpinnings for effective malaria elimination and eradication. Data and findings generated by these Centers are expected to provide input critical to inform future research design and evaluation of new interventions and control strategies.

In addition, competitive revisions will be used to support new or additional activities reflecting an expansion of the scope of the original awards. In August 2011, a Request for Applications was issued with the goal of fostering collaborations between immunologists and ICEMR investigators. In 2013, six supplement awards were made, focusing on research to expand understanding of critical aspects of human immunology pertinent to malaria, by using state-of-the-art immunological methods to determine mechanisms of immunity and identify correlates of protection to natural malaria infection and disease in endemic areas.

Last Updated August 27, 2013