Population Biology of African Malaria Vectors and Parasites Malaria is the most fatal vector-borne disease in sub-Saharan Africa. At present, insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spray and artemisinin-based combination therapy are the primary intervention tools. However, the evolution and spread of insecticide resistance and drug resistance is hindering the effectiveness of these tools. Furthermore, high coverage of insecticidal nets and IRS has dramatically altered African vector populations and behavior. Malaria vectors are now increasingly becoming outdoor biters, thus rendering current first-line malaria vector control tools to lose their effectiveness since they primarily target indoor-biting mosquitoes. The emergence of widespread pyrethroid resistance, urgently calls for the development of new tools that target both indoor and outdoor biting mosquitoes and the design of novel insecticide resistance management strategies. Recent advancements in molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics and ecological modeling, provide exciting opportunities for developing new malaria vector control and resistance management tools. Unfortunately, a large number of scientists from malaria-endemic countries have not been able to leverage these new technologies extensively in their research. The overarching goal of this program is to advance the career development of promising young scientists from sub-Saharan African countries and assist them address the new challenges in malaria vector control in their regions. The specific scientific objectives of this competing renewal application include training in ecological and molecular epidemiology of malaria, population genetics and genomics of vector insecticide resistance and malaria parasite drug resistance, and development of new malaria vector surveillance and control tools. We propose to accomplish this goal by training four postdoctoral fellows and eight Ph.D. students from malaria-endemic Africa. In addition to obtaining research experience in both laboratory-based molecular biology, bioinformatics and field-based ecological research, each year all trainees will attend a core training curriculum that focuses on biostatistics and data management, bioinformatics, modeling, scientific writing and responsible conduct of research. The superb infrastructure and capacity at the international training sites (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and Kenya Medical Research Institute) and at the University of California at Irvine are ideal for the proposed training. This training program will contribute significantly to malaria research capacity building in Africa and career development of African scientists by bridging laboratory and field research experience in vector biology and malaria epidemiology, by equipping them with new technologies, by providing opportunities for them to develop valuable Africa-wide and international linkages. It will also empower them to build and develop independent research capacity and projects.
Malaria is a major public health problem, particularly in sub- Saharan Africa. Advancements in molecular biology, bioinformatics, modeling, and other disciplines provide exciting opportunities to develop new vector control tools. The vast majority of scientists from malaria-endemic Africa have not been able to use these new technologies to their maximum potential. Training next generation scientists to enable them to effectively use the new technologies and enhancing the malaria research capacity from malaria-endemic Africa will greatly facilitate the malaria control efforts in Africa.
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