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Parasitic Infections

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Research Activities

Ongoing Research

NIAID research on parasitic infections is targeted at developing a better understanding of the pathogenesis of infections and developing more effective prevention approaches, diagnostics, and treatments for them.


Researchers are applying new technologies to develop cost effective, sensitive, and specific diagnostics, applicable to field situations in the tropics, and to test for disease pathology, infectious agents, and response to drugs and vaccines. Such tests help scientists learn about disease epidemiology as well as identify the risk of disease. Researchers are also developing better diagnostics to detect drug-resistant pathogens, improve treatments, and inform national and regional control policies.

Drug Discovery and Development

Researchers are performing basic biochemical and molecular studies to identify enzymes, metabolic pathways, and structures in pathogens that are targets for intervention. Funding of genome initiatives and databases has expanded the number of chemotherapeutic and vaccine targets. Researchers are also studying how existing drugs act and what causes drug resistance. To assess the efficacy and safety of possible drugs, they will study them in animal models and in field and clinic settings .

Immunological Intervention

Scientists are using basic and applied research to identify the role of the human immune response in protection and disease. Such studies provide the foundation for developing vaccines that protect a person from infection and disease as well as for the design of intervention strategies that block immunopathological processes. Moreover, these studies have wider applicability as parasite systems have served as important models for the role of immune cells and factors in other diseases.


Basic and applied research on arthropod vectors, such as mosquitoes, and their interactions with pathogens and humans are underway to develop tools to interrupt pathogen transmission to humans. Scientists are placing special emphasis on vector ecology, the pathogen-vector interaction, population genetics, and genetic and genomic studies. They hope to develop novel, environmentally sound insect control strategies.

Intramural Lab

The Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases conducts basic and applied research on the prevention, control, and treatment of a variety of parasitic and bacterial diseases of global importance.

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Last Updated August 08, 2007

Last Reviewed August 08, 2007