USF global health professor leads workshop for Gates Foundation scientists conducting malaria research

John Adams, PhD, USF Health professor of global health, and his research team recently led a weeklong workshop for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Malaria Culture Systems Consortium working group for Plasmodium vivax blood-stage culture.

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Counterclockwise, from left: Dr. Juliana Sá, National Institutes of Health; Dr. John Adams, USF College of Public Health; Dr. Erica Pasini, BPRC, The Netherlands; Dr. Manoj Duraisingh, Harvard School of Public Health; and Dr. Nicanor Obaldia III, Gorgas Memorial Institute, Panama, and USF.

The hands-on workshop was part of the $8.5-million, five-year USF project directed by Adams to develop long-term continuous cultures for this form of malaria most common outside of Africa. The lack of basic culture methods, critical for modern biomedical research, is a major problem hindering development vaccines and drugs to prevent this neglected tropical disease.

Scientists from the USF College of Public Health program in Global Health and Infectious Diseases Research and from other laboratories in the United States, Germany, Panama, Thailand, and The Netherlands gathered in the Interdisciplinary Research Building.

The goal of the workshop was to coordinate experimental studies of the project, review the current status of the research, and identify the key challenges remaining to improve laboratory research methods.  The program seeks to harness cutting-edge methods in hematopoietic stem cell culture, bioengineering, high-content image analysis, and other recent advances in biomedical research to develop a sustainable in vitro culture method for the vivax malaria parasite.

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The hands-on workshop gave researchers the opportunity to practice the latest techniques for culturing sustainable vivax malaria parasites in the laboratory.

Principal investigators of partner projects in the culture systems program for vivax malaria research — Dr. Manoj Duraisingh, Harvard School of Public Health (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Dr. Erica Pasini, Biomedical Primate Research Centre (Rijswijk, The Netherlands), and their project team members — traveled to USF for the workshop.

The 18 workshop participants included key collaborators supported directly by the USF project: Dr. Nicanor Obaldia III of the Gorgas Memorial Institute (Panama), Dr. Wajeeh Saadi of USF-Draper Laboratory (Tampa, FL), Dr. Juliana Sá of the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institutes of Health (Rockville, MD), and Dr. Wanlapa Roobsoong of the Malaria Vaccine Research Unit, Mahidol University (Bangkok, Thailand).

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Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications