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Young Scientists Explore Malaria at Annual Research Symposium

Students discuss malaria research

Approximately 150 young scientists gathered at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus for “The Future of Malaria Research” symposium.

The daylong event was an opportunity for young scientists to present their research and to network. Participants heard from their peers, who already are becoming experts in their field. Dozens of students graudate and post-doc students presented posters at the event, showcasing their research findings.

The conference was the sixth annual fall meeting held by the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, and the second year in a row the focus was on young scientists. JHMRI is directed by Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Dr. Peter Agre, who attended the symposium and mingled with young researchers from around the country and the world.

Researchers from seven countries attended in addition to students from Johns Hopkins, Duke, University of Virginia, University of Maryland, Penn State, Colorado State, Georgetown, George Mason, Drexel and other universities. Scientists came from the company Sanaria and the National Institutes of Health.

Meeting attendees heard a keynote address from Emily Derbyshire of Duke University on discovering molecules to probe and treat malaria. Bryan Greenhouse of University of California, San Francisco, gave the closing lecture, focusing on tracking malaria by its shadows. Students discussed such topics as the natural history of malaria elimination in Southern Zambia and the flight aptitude of tethered mosquitoes as a measure for long distance migration behavior.

The event was organized by Hugo Jhun, Krithika Rajaram and Giovanna Carpi. Carpi and Rajaram are postdoctoral research fellows and Hugo Juhn is a Ph.D. candidate in the JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.

“Growing up in a malaria-endemic country, I have witnessed firsthand the devastating socioeconomic impact of this disease,” said Rajaram, who is from India. “Impoverished communities, particularly children, bear the greatest burden of illness due to a dearth of accessible diagnostic and treatment options, and this perpetuates the cycle of poverty and ill health.

“Malaria parasites have not only had to adapt to humans, but also to mosquitoes, and I am excited to uncover some of the reasons as to why they make such successful pathogens,” she continued.

Malaria is a tropical, mosquito-borne infection that is serious and often fatal. Nearly 1 million people die of malaria every year, and approximately 300 million to 500 million cases of clinical malaria occur annually.

CATEGORY: Academics