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JH Malaria Research Institute Presents Young Scientists Meeting

Students at science convention


Approximately 150 young scientists met for a one-day malaria symposium at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus to hear from a keynote speaker, view presentations from students and post-docs, and network with their peers.

The conference, titled The Future of Malaria Research: A Young Scientists’ Meeting, was the fifth annual fall meeting held by the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. Amanda Balaban, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said institute Director Peter Agre charged the event organizers with creating a “young person’s meeting.”

Balaban organized the event with her classmates Raul Saraiva and Leah Walker. It was strategically held a few days before the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene conference in Philadelphia.

The meeting held by the students attracted attendees from across the United States and 10 countries.

“It’s great to bring people together and learn different aspects of malaria and build a network in the malaria community,” Balaban said. “It keeps the excitement up about the research we are doing.”

Nearly 1 million people die of malaria every year, according to the National Institutes of Health, and approximately 300 million to 500 million cases of clinical malaria occur each year.

Meeting attendees heard a keynote lecture from Grant Hughes of the University of Texas Medical Branch; he completed a post-doc fellowship at JHU. Sessions also focused on molecular biology, drugs and diagnostics, and vector biology and transmission control. Approximately 60 young malaria researchers showcased their research findings in a poster presentation session.

“We want to provide a platform for the research being done by aspiring scientists and the research being done in the lab,” said Walker, a Ph.D. candidate studying molecular microbiology and immunology at JHU.

Walker said she was pleased to see so many participants from outside of the Baltimore/ Washington area; malaria researchers came from Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University, University of Hawaii; and Duke University, among other schools. The event also attracted scientists from the National Institutes of Health, Naval Medical Research Center and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Disciplines of study among participants was diverse also: physicists, epidemiology experts and molecular biologists came, as well as those who focus on computer-based work and field-based work.

Ideas were brewing at the conference, said Saraiva, also a JHU Ph.D. candidate studying malaria.

The meeting was designed “so people can integrate and know what’s hot in the areas of medical research,” Saraiva said. “We want to capture what’s going to be the next big thing.”



CATEGORY: Academics, Research