UF awarded NIH Funding for new malaria research center

Dr. Dinglasan in lab

Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan in his laboratory.

By Sarah Carey and DeLene Beeland

Although global malaria deaths have declined by 27% over the past two decades, the disease still exacts a major toll, especially in Africa.

According to the World Health Organization’s 2023 World Malaria Report, there were 233 million malaria cases in Africa in 2022, resulting in 508,000 deaths. That’s 83% of the world’s total deaths from malaria.

Now, a five-year, $3.6 million award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, aims to turn the tide through a new International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research led by University of Florida scientist Rhoel Dinglasan, Ph.D., M.P.H., and partners in Africa.

“We have been preparing to compete for this new center over the past eight years,” said Dinglasan, a professor of infectious diseases at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine who also is associated with the university’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. “It is an honor to be working with my two co-principal investigators, professors Christian Happi and Charles Wondji from Nigeria and Cameroon, respectively.”

The cooperative agreement from NIAID will fund evidence-based strategies to support malaria eradication and elimination efforts.

“Malaria elimination means targeting all parasite species that cause the disease, not just Plasmodium falciparum,” Dinglasan said, referencing the parasite most commonly associated with malaria deaths.

The center’s name, ÉMERGENTS, combining French and English, alludes to the concept of emerging issues that may prove to be a challenge for malaria elimination and eradication efforts. Its full title is West-Central Africa Enhancing Malaria Epidemiology Research through Genomics & Translational Systems biology.

The new center will help fill knowledge gaps about malaria parasite species in addition to Plasmodium falciparum, investigate the geographic expansion of invasive Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes and determine factors driving insecticide resistance.

“Malaria is a disease that causes a lot of havoc in children and pregnant women in this region,” said Happi, a professor of molecular biology and genomics at Redeemer’s University in Ede, Nigeria. “With the right combination of drugs and vaccines, it can be eradicated.”

Wondji, a professor of genetics and executive director of the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases in Yaoundé, Cameroon, added, “ÉMERGENTS will help train a new generation of African scientists able to lead the fight against this disease.”

This project is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award number U19AI181594.

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Share this article with others:
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Twitter

May-June 2024

Dr. Zimmel

A message from our dean

A message from the college’s dean, Dr. Dana Zimmel.

Dr. Jada Lewis

Neuroscience researcher named chair of physiological sciences

Dr. Jada Lewis was previously a professor of neuroscience in the UF College of Medicine and has served as deputy director of the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of UF for the past five years.

Dr. Dinglasan in lab

UF awarded NIH Funding for new malaria research center

The cooperative agreement from NIAID will fund evidence-based strategies to support malaria eradication and elimination efforts.

Dr. Aria Eshraghi and Dr. Maite de Maria Mulet

Two from college inducted into national graduate honor society

The two were honored for their scholarly achievement and promotion of excellence among trainees from all walks of life.

Poster presentation

Top research recognized at Phi Zeta Days

Each year, the college acknowledges the top research being performed by D.V.M. students, graduate students, faculty, house officers and staff during its traditional Research and Phi Zeta Celebration.

Dr. Adam Stern explains how to excavate a clandestine animal grave in a forest to a group of veterinary students.

Over $7 million in private gifts will support expansion of college’s veterinary forensic pathology program

The veterinary forensics program is poised for its first major expansion in six years.

Dr. Helena Zomer

Faculty member wins poster competition at national conference

Dr. Helena Zomer presented her research at the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers annual meeting, held in Arlington, Virginia.

(From left) Dr. Elias Sayour, Chong Zhao and Arnav Barpujari discuss the mRNA cancer vaccine developed at the University of Florida.

UF-developed mRNA vaccine triggers fierce immune response to fight malignant brain tumor

Drs. Sheila Carrera-Justiz, Rowan Milner and Bikash Sahay of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine were all coauthors of the paper that appeared May 1 in the journal Cell, reporting the results.

Adam Stern

Faculty member honored by international veterinary forensics group

UF’s veterinary forensic pathologist was honored with award from international group.

The UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s 2024 Distinguished Winners from left to right, are: Dr. Stephen Rosenthal, Dr. Kendra Stauffer, Dr. Maureen Long, Dr. Stephanie Sabshin and Dr. Arnold Rosenthal. Not pictured is Dr. Jim Wellehan.

UF veterinary college names its 2024 Distinguished Award winners

The college’s 2024 Distinguished Award winners were honored during commencement on May 24.

Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan

Dinglasan receives UFRF professorship

The recognition goes to faculty who have a distinguished current record of research and a strong research agenda that is likely to lead to continuing distinction in their fields.

Dr. Robin Bell, an equine sports medicine specialist, is pictured with a horse at the UF Veterinary Hospital at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida, where he is based.

UF professor heads for Paris this summer as team veterinarian for Team Australia’s equine athletes

The competition marks Dr. Robin Bell’s third tour on equestrian sport’s grandest stage, a journey that traces back to his youth.

...also in this issue



Around the College