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DIR Opens New Malaria Lab, Strengthens Global Partnership

NIAID has collaborated with the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology, and Malaria Control (CNM) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, since 2005. The research partnership has thus far focused on malaria drug resistance, an emerging problem in Cambodia and in other parts of the world where the disease is widespread. The Cambodian center works closely with the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research in the NIAID Division of Intramural Research (DIR).

Dr. Kathy Zoon, director of the NIAID Division of Intramural Research, cuts the ribbon for a new malaria research laboratory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as Piper Campbell, Chargé d' Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, and His Excellency, Dr. Mam Bun Heng, Cambodian Minister of Health, look on.
Dr. Kathy Zoon, director of the NIAID Division of Intramural Research, cuts the ribbon for a new malaria research laboratory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as Piper Campbell, Chargé d' Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, and His Excellency, Dr. Mam Bun Heng, Cambodian Minister of Health, look on.
In December 2008, NIAID DIR, together with CNM, opened a newly-renovated malaria research laboratory. It will facilitate ongoing and future collaborative research activities between the two institutions.

Studying Natural Resistance to Malaria

In addition to clinical studies on malaria drug resistance, the new laboratory will enable studies on the natural resistance to falciparum malaria that is present in Cambodia’s Khmer population. This type of malaria, caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, is responsible for the majority of malaria deaths in children worldwide. The Khmer population and some populations in parts of Africa are naturally protected against this severe form of disease.

By gaining a better understanding of how and why these populations are protected—what molecular mechanisms confer this protection—researchers hope to discover new therapeutic approaches that can treat the disease among those populations not naturally protected.

NIAID and CNM will also launch a new research project examining the ecology of mosquitoes that transmit malaria. These studies could offer important insights into local malaria transmission, which in turn could inform efforts to control malaria from spreading in the first place.

Expanding Training for Cambodian Researchers

The addition of the new laboratory will provide opportunities for developing the collaboration. It will allow NIAID and CNM researchers to conduct nearly all of their scientific experiments and analyses in country. The new laboratory will also provide new training opportunities for researchers, particularly young Cambodian researchers.

With the opening of the new malaria research laboratory, NIAID DIR helps to establish a research program with both local and global benefits in the fight against malaria. This collaboration contributes to NIAID’s commitment to supporting a program of global research that will improve the health of millions worldwide.

Last Updated February 03, 2009