Global Research in Thailand

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Summary of Past and Present NIAID-Funded Research

Thailand has a wet, tropical climate that encourages vector- and water-borne diseases. Dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and plague are endemic in some regions, as are leptospirosis and rabies. A major emerging threat in Thailand is the spread of avian influenza, H5N1 strain.

NIAID has a long history of cooperation in biomedical research with Thailand. For example, in 1981, NIAID awarded one of the first International Collaboration in Infectious Disease Research awards for research in leprosy to the University of Illinois and Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

NIAID currently funds more than 30 projects in Thailand. These projects focus primarily on HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue fever, and filariasis, and include vaccine development, drug resistance, and immuno-pathology studies. One NIAID-supported project in Thailand studies the immunological aspects of H5N1 in humans and represents a collaboration between the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) laboratory in Bangkok and the Faculty of Medicine at Mahidol University. Samples from human cases of H5N1 in Thailand are being used for these studies.

There are currently four sites in Thailand that are part of the NIAID-supported Southeast Asia Influenza Clinical Research Network (SEA ICRN). SEA ICRN is a multilateral, collaborative partnership of hospitals and institutions in Thailand, as well as in Indonesia, United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. This partnership includes NIAID and international institutions, such as the World Health Organization, Oxford University, and the Wellcome Trust.

NIAID also has recently awarded a contract to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, to establish a Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance to conduct basic influenza research activities and animal surveillance in Thailand, in collaboration with Hong Kong/China and Indonesia.

NIAID funds research on HIV/AIDS in Thailand through its major HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Networks, including the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials, the International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, and the HIV Prevention Trials Network. NIAID is also supporting International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS, in which Thailand participates as part of the Asia and Australia Region. Through the NIAID-supported Comprehensive International Program of Research on AIDS, Thai researchers are developing long-term plans for enhancing research infrastructure and capacity relevant to the AIDS epidemic in northern Thailand.

NIAID also supports several research projects that involve collaborations between institutions in the United States and Thailand on malaria, densoviruses, Burkholderia peudomallei, dengue fever, liver fluke, and filariasis.

U.S. – Thailand Science and Technology Agreements

An agreement between the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of the Army, and the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs was signed on December 23, 1960, April 1, 1963, and January 28, 1977, to establish a Southeast Asia Treaty Organization Clinical Research Center for the scientific research of disease conditions in Thailand and to provide training in the management of such diseases.

On April 13, 1984, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand signed an agreement for the cooperation among universities, research centers, and private-sector institutions on science and technology information and development pertaining to the areas of agriculture, health, energy, space, environment, natural resources, hazards, and industrial development.

A Memorandum of Understanding between HHS/National Institutes of Health and Chulabhorn Research Institute for collaboration on an AIDS program, the use of natural products in biomedical applications and cancer research, and epidemiology studies in Thailand was signed on June 14, 1989, and again on May 27, 1992.

NIAID, with the U.S. Department of Defense and AFRIMS in Bangkok, signed an interagency agreement in 2005 to support avian influenza research in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia.

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