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July 8, 2010

Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute Named International Center of Excellence

The Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (JHMRI) is one of 10 centers selected by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) as an International Center of Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR). NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, established the network of centers to accelerate the control and elimination of malaria worldwide.

In the first year, NIAID will provide aproximately $14 million to the centers. Over the next seven years, the ICEMR will conduct research in regions where malaria is endemic, including parts of Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Latin America. Each center will design and conduct multidisciplinary research on the epidemiology, transmission and pathogenesis of malaria in endemic geographic regions, design and conduct special projects to capitalize on new opportunities and emerging public health needs and develop and conduct training and career development programs for researchers from malaria-endemic areas. JHMRI will focus its research activities on studying malaria transmission and the impact of control efforts in Southern Africa.

“We are grateful to participate in this global effort to control and eliminate malaria, which remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly among children in Africa,” said Peter Agre, MD, director of JHMRI and principal investigator of ICEMR at Johns Hopkins. “This marks an important expansion of the work of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute in southern Zambia and will allow us to work with colleagues in Zambia and Zimbabwe to apply state-of-the-art research methods to accelerate malaria control in Southern Africa.”

In addition to being part of the ICEMR network, JHMRI will collaborate on research with the Biomedical Research and Training Institute in Zimbabwe and the Tropical Diseases Research Centre in Zambia. Research will also be conducted at JHMRI’s research site in Macha, Zambia, under the direction of Phil Thuma and Sungano Mharakurwa. Faculty from JHMRI and colleagues in Africa will conduct research into the epidemiology, vector biology and parasite genetics of malaria in three different epidemiological settings in Zambia and Zimbabwe, with the goal of providing the evidence-base for the development of sustainable control strategies to further reduce malaria transmission in southern Africa.

“This award allows us to build upon our work on the epidemiology and transmission of malaria in southern Zambia, where the burden of malaria has declined, to areas where control efforts have been less successful near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and where malaria has been resurgent in Zimbabwe,” said William Moss, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and one of the ICEMR project leaders. “Through the ICEMR, we will have opportunities to collaborate with other centers of excellence throughout the world to work toward malaria control and elimination.”

Malaria affects more than 500 million people worldwide and is estimated to kill more than one million people each year, most of whom are children living in Africa.

Founded at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2001, JHMRI is a state-of-the-art malaria research facility with full-time faculty dedicated to the search for medical and scientific breakthroughs in malaria prevention and treatment by advancing basic science along every stage of the malaria parasite lifecycle.

Public Affairs media contact for JHSPH: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.

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