a vaccine for malaria,
which kills one to three million people worldwide each
year, poses unique scientific challenges. The Malaria
Research Program at the Emory Vaccine Center includes basic research
aimed at understanding the parasite and the disease, pre-clinical
vaccine testing in mice and non-human primates, and clinical
studies involving people living in malaria endemic regions.
A primary goal is to identify optimal malaria vaccine candidates,
develop delivery systems for selected targets, study their
safety and immunogenicity, and pave the way for eventual
clinical trials. A major focus is also on understanding
the molecular mechanisms that govern and regulate antigenic
variation of parasite proteins encoded by multigene families,
and the relationship of these proteins to the virulence
of the parasite, and its ability to evade the immune system.
Important for many of these investigations is an underlying
focus on improving our understanding of malaria infections
and the pathogenesis of the disease.
The EVC’s Malaria
Research Program was established by Dr.
Mary Galinski beginning
at the time of the opening
of the vaccine center premises in 1999. Key to the success
of the program are the unique specialized scientific backgrounds
of its investigators in P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria
vaccine target discovery, basic molecular biology and molecular
evolution studies with an emphasis on understanding the
invasiveness and pathogenic characteristics of the parasite
in non-human primate models as well as humans, basic immunology
with experience in designing and implementing both pre-clinical
and clinical malaria vaccine trials, entomology expertise,
and over 25 years of combined experience working in malaria
endemic communities. This research group is among only
a few worldwide with the ability to study in depth both
of the major human malaria species, several non-human primate
malaria species, and rodent malarias. The comparative analysis
of each of these diverse infections allows for a broad
and in depth understanding of the parasite and the disease.
Scientists researching malaria at the EVC work closely
with Yerkes’ investigators and the veterinary staff
at the Yerkes National
Primate Research Center. Joint investigations
with Yerkes’ scientists have included the testing
of malaria vaccine candidates for the US Naval Medical
Research Program and the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI)
at PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health);
pathogenesis studies of malaria in pregnant rhesus monkeys,
and studies of anemia caused by malaria in rhesus monkeys.
Malaria scientists at the EVC also work closely with other
EVC faculty and investigators from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other US institutions.
Additionally, the EVC malaria scientists interface with
collaborators from Brazil, Colombia, India, Australia,
and several countries in Europe. The leading investigators
from Brazil and Colombia, Drs. Ferreira and Corredor, hold
joint faculty appointments at their home institutions (the
Institute Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and the
Colombian National University in Bogotá, Colombia,
respectively) and at the Yerkes
National Primate Research Center.
Mary R. Galinski, Ph.D.
Alberto Moreno, M.D.
Esmeralda Vargas-Serrato, M.D.
Joseli de Oliveira Ferreira, Ph.D. (Brazil)
Vladimir Corredor, Ph.D. (Colombia)
EVC Malaria General
EVC Malaria Vaccine Core