The International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) program, created in July 2010, established a global network of independent research centers in malaria-endemic settings to provide knowledge, tools, and evidence-based strategies to support researchers working in a variety of settings, especially within governments and healthcare institutions.
Research activities are being conducted in the following regions, comprising more than 20 countries:
- Southeast Asia
- South Asia
- East Africa
- West and Central Africa
- Southern Africa
- Latin America (outside Amazonia)
Each Center aims to
- Design and conduct multidisciplinary research on the epidemiology, transmission, and pathogenesis of malaria in its specific region
- Design and conduct special projects to capitalize on new opportunities and emerging public health needs
- Develop and conduct training/career development programs for researchers in its region
Centers are also working to develop and maintain affiliations with local and regional government agencies and established institutions to coordinate research activities and reach relevant study populations and treatment centers. They use a multidisciplinary approach, offering a diverse set of scientific expertise including basic science, vector research and ecology, epidemiology, and clinical research.
As disease transmission changes and new needs and opportunities emerge, the Centers will adapt research projects to respond. Their work will bring critical infrastructure to malaria-endemic regions and help build training and research capacity to combat malaria.
Centers have been funded for up to seven years to conduct various research projects and engage in collaborative research with other ICEMRs. In addition, competitive revisions will be used to support new or additional activities reflecting an expansion of the scope of the original awards. 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.
In March 2012, the journal Acta Tropica published a special supplement issue focusing on the ICEMRs, titled "Tackling the Malaria 'End Game': Regional Needs and Challenges for Successful Malaria Elimination." The supplement begins with a foreword by Malla Rao, Ph.D., ICEMR Program Director and Deputy Branch Chief of the NIAID Parasitology and International Programs Branch. The foreword is followed by articles describing the preliminary research being conducted at each ICEMR, which provide baseline information about each region that will help to inform future interventions.
In September 2015, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene also published a supplement on the ICEMR program. The focus of the 2015 supplement was on the complex network of factors that affect malaria transmission, control and prevention. These include epidemiology, vector ecology, parasite diversity, insecticide and drug resistance, pathogenesis, diagnostic performance, as well as the impact of human migration, man-made ecological changes, climate, and vector behavior. The multidisciplinary nature of the ICEMRs make them uniquely suited to study these factors and compare findings for consistency and variability.
Rao M. The International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; 2015 vol. 93 no. 3 Suppl 1-4.
Rao M. The International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research. Acta Tropica 121(3):157. DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2011.07.009 (2012).
Volkman SK et al. Application of genomics to field investigations of malaria by the international centers of excellence for malaria research. Acta Tropica 121(3):324-332. DOI: 10.1016.j.actatropica.2011.12.002 (2012).
Werndorfer WH. Global challenges of changing epidemiological patterns of malaria. Acta Tropica 121(3):158-165. DOI: 10.1016.j.actatropica.2011.06.014 (2012).