Malaria research has progressed to the stage where the identification of specific molecules and genes that could be playing a role in disease pathogenesis is possible. Likewise, the infrastructure in Malawi has progressed to the point where assays and investigations that had previously only been performed in resource-rich settings are feasible. We will harness these two developments in the Molecular and Genomics Core in Blantyre, Malawi. The primary purpose of the Core is to support the molecular and genomic analyses in the four projects in the Malawi ICEMR. Each of these has a molecular or genomics component central to their specific aims. Centralizing-the molecular and genomic facilities will not only eliminate duplication of expensive equipment, but will also ensure the standardization of techniques and results across the projects. A secondary goal of this Core is the development of novel, field friendly assays to address malaria specific questions. Three of the ICEMR projects will generate parasite isolates from opposite ends of phenotypic spectra (severe disease-asymptomatic parasitemia, urban-rural, high-low transmissibility). With these detailed phenotypic characterizations, and the rapidly developing genomic technology, we aim to identify parasite genes that contribute to these characteristics or phenotypes. This information will contribute to the rational design of malaria control and intervention activities. An overarching goal of this entire proposal, as well as this Core, is capacity building in Malawi. This Core will provide training for Malawian laboratory technicians that was previously only available abroad. The Core will employ a Malawian post-doctoral fellow, whose focus will be the development of new assays. In this role, she will travel to both the US and the UK to learn techniques that can be integrated into the Core upon her return. We anticipate that within the lifespan of this ICEMR, the sophistication of Malawian scientists will reach a level where the leadership of this Core will transition to a Malawian.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Program--Cooperative Agreements (U19)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1)
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Michigan State University
East Lansing
United States
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