Malaria, caused by Plasmodium falciparum, is one of the three major infectious diseases in the world today. The introduction of control measures including insecticide-treated bednets, rapid diagnostic tests, and intermittent preventative treatment (IPT) have reduced the prevalence of malaria in a number of African countries, yet malaria remains highly endemic in central Africa where public health resources are poor. At highest risk of severe infections are pregnant women and young children. More than ever, well-trained African scientists are needed to monitor the changing landscape as the malaria picture rapidly changes. Scientists in Cameroon are actively engage in research on malaria, but additional expertise and faculty are needed to identify malaria- related problems as they arise and design strategies to solve them. Therefore, the purpose of this application is to help young Cameroonian scientists acquired the skills necessary for conducting research on malaria, with a focus on malaria in pregnant women and infants. In 1994, scientists at the University of Yaoundi 1, Cameroon, and Georgetown University began collaborating on malaria at the Biotechnology Center (BTC). Through continuous NIH grant support and a training grant from the Maternal and Child Health Research Training Program (MCHRT), a group of 5 full- time faculty members, >6 well-trained technicians, and ~40 students are conducting research at the BTC. Previous trainees wish to return after completing their post-doctoral and residency programs in the USA. This application proposes ways to help the malaria group at the BTC acquire the critical mass and expertise it needs to develop a long-term sustainable research program on malaria. The specific goal of the application is to provide expertise that is currently lacking at the BTC that would supplement on-going research. Areas of training include 1) use of anti-malarial drugs (pharmacokinetics, evolution of parasite-drug resistance, and clinical trial design), 2) immunology of the placenta, with emphasis on flow cytometry, 3) co-infections between malaria and other diseases, 4) use of ultrasound for monitoring fetal development, and 5) vector biology. The program includes training of 3 PhD-level and 4 MS-level students, mentoring of returning clinicians(s) in OB/GYN and infectious diseases, and training of local physicians in ultrasound. Three in-country workshops designed and conducted by former FIC trainees are proposed. These training activities will significantly contribute to the long-term goal of creating a group of scientists at the BTC whose research will continue to improve the health care of pregnant women and their newborns.
Malaria is a major health problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa, especially in central Africa where the disease is endemic and public health resources are poor. Pregnant women and their newborns are at a high risk of severe infections, often resulting in premature deliveries, low birth weight babies, and infant mortality. This application proposes to train outstanding young scientists working at the Biotechnology Center, University of Yaoundi 1, Cameroon, to conduct research on malaria in order to improve health care of pregnant Cameroonian women and their newborns.
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