Despite being fully preventable and treatable, malaria remains a challenging and very complex disease to eliminate. The disease lifecycle consists of an integrated intermix of three biological systems namely the human host, the mosquito vector (transmits the disease) and the parasite (disease-causing pathogen), each with their own lifecycle, habit, environment preference, and pathogenesis profile, which contributes towards the elimination woes.
The University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC) has a holistic approach towards understanding malaria and finding new and innovative methods to control the disease. Research takes place on all aspects of this deadly disease, with research grouped in three clusters namely the Human Health, Parasite Control and Vector Control clusters.
Six honours students have started their research careers in the Malaria Parasite Molecular Laboratory (M2PL) of Professor Lyn-Marie Birkholtz – SARChI Chair in Sustainable Malaria Control and head of the Parasite Control cluster – in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology. These young scientists are helping to build more knowledge about the intricacies of the “shape shifting” malaria parasite to be used in further studies, to ultimately contribute towards discovering novel treatment options against the disease.
The honours students (from left to right in the photo) – Tyrick Welcome, Yordanos Kebede, Natanya Venter, Suzelle Voges, Hendrik Britz and Nikhila Moodley – will have the opportunity to share their research findings with other malaria researchers at the 7th annual Malaria Research Conference that is taking place virtually from 2-4 August 2022. The South African Medical Research Council (MRC) is hosting the conference in collaboration with the National Department of Health. The conference creates a platform for researchers, especially young, early career researchers, to showcase novel, innovative, ground-breaking research and on-going collaborative efforts to control and ultimately eliminate malaria.
The UP ISMC, a MRC Collaborating Centre of Malaria Research, always supports the annual conference. According to the Director of the UP ISMC, Professor Tiaan de Jager, “Some of these young researchers may never experience the opportunity to participate in a conference. The annual Malaria Research conference not only provides them with the opportunity to present their important research findings, but also helps them to start building their research networks, which will play a vital role in their research careers going forward”.
This year the UP ISMC researchers will participate in the conference with a total of eight oral presentations and 12 posters. Along with the six honours there are seven MSc, four PhD and three staff participants. The majority of the researchers are from the M2PL group and five are from the School of Health Systems and Public Health.
Over the next week, we will introduce the Honours students and their research on our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn)
For more about the UP ISMC, click here.
For more about the 7th annual Malaria Research Conference 2022, click here.