This proposal is the first renewal of our training program entitled Enhancing vivax malaria research in Thailand (D43TW006571). Plasmodium vivax is a highly prevalent, potentially dangerous, and most neglected tropical disease. It continues to cause a staggering 130-145 million clinical infections per year and accounts for the most malaria infections outside Africa. Recent studies have shown that vivax malaria is frequently associated with severe pathology. Yet, the first-line treatment for vivax malaria comprised of chloroquine and primaquine has remained unchanged for over 50 years and resistance to these drugs severely compromises their efficacy. Due to several unique biological features, P. vivax has shown extreme resilience to control efforts. It has become the most prevalent malaria parasite species in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) of Southeast Asia. Although countries within this region are motivated to embark on malaria elimination, the lack of effective control measures for vivax malaria hampers the achievement of this ambitious goal. As such, this training program will continue to address key knowledge gaps in vivax malaria research, focusing on three scientific areas. Specifically, we aim to understand the changing malaria epidemiology in the GMS, to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance, and to advance the development of transmission blocking vaccines for effective interruption of vivax malaria transmission. This training program is a continuous collaboration between Pennsylvania State University and Mahidol University in Thailand. Within this program, mentors of diverse scientific disciplines will join forces to offer multidisciplinary training in innovativ approaches that address critical problems in the current malaria elimination campaign in this region. Based on training needs assessment, we want to expand our training efforts to include scientists from Myanmar, where malaria burden is the heaviest in this region. We propose to use a double-track mechanism: 1) long-term training of five junior faculty members, four postdoctoral fellows, and six PhD students, and 2) short-term training of endemic country scientists through annual short courses and workshops. The overall training paradigm designed in the renewal application will ensure that all trainees receive the required technical and intellectual expertise to conduct independent research on vivax malaria. In addition, this training program will serve as an important platform for the transfer of enabling technologies to endemic area scientists. By advancing the careers of these trainees, this program aims to build a critical mass of investigators and a necessary intellectual network in the GMS to focus on vivax malaria research.

Public Health Relevance

Plasmodium vivax malaria is a highly prevalent, potentially dangerous, and most neglected tropical disease. In this renewal application of our research training program, we propose to train a cadre of junior scientists from Thailand and Myanmar in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Southeast Asia to address important problems in vivax malaria research. Through long- and short-term training of endemic area scientists, this program will provide necessary capacity building to ensure sustained interests in research and training on vivax malaria research in this region.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
International Research Training Grants (D43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Sina, Barbara J
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Pennsylvania State University
Earth Sciences/Resources
University Park
United States
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