While we welcome respondents from around the world, we are particularly interested in proposals from respondents working in high-burden malaria settings. All proposals must include a principal investigator or co-investigator from a malaria-endemic country.
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe that malaria eradication within a generation is possible. We recognize that in order to achieve this, National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) must be empowered to use timely, high-quality data to inform their malaria strategic planning, decision-making, program implementation, and evaluation. As we work to sustain the decline in incidence rates that have marked the last fifteen years of malaria control, this concept of data-to-action has never been more important.
Our vision for data-to-action, recently endorsed by WHO’s Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC), is one of stratification and sub-national tailoring. In the first step, multiple data sources – from geospatial to epidemiological data – are used to define district-level strata within a country. Next, additional data types are used as the input to mathematical models that output the optimal package of interventions that result in maximum malaria burden reduction within a given resource envelope. The success of stratification and sub-national tailoring is highly dependent on the underlying data, which may not always be complete, high-quality, and / or timely. We are therefore exploring new data streams that might improve our understanding of factors driving changes in malaria epidemiology or be used to optimize the choice of interventions modelled. One of these new data streams is serological, genetic, and / or genomic data which arises from malaria molecular surveillance.
Malaria Molecular Surveillance (MMS) is an umbrella term which describes the use of molecular biology approaches – from serology to genotyping to whole genome sequencing (WGS) – to interrogate parasite and / or vector populations in order to derive epidemiologically actionable information. MMS does not include research-oriented genetic and genomic investigations, such as studies using genomics to investigate parasite or mosquito biology. Rather, the emphasis is on analyses that can directly influence malaria control policy and practice. In addition to the laboratory techniques used, MMS also includes the bioinformatics tools and resources necessary to process, interpret, and share the resulting data.
Initial work in the MMS space focused on methods development and proof-of-concept pilot studies. Now, the tools and analyses are maturing, the infrastructure is in place, and the time-to-result is much shorter, meaning that MMS is beginning to influence program planning and execution. In elimination settings, genetics has been deployed in focused investigations of malaria importations. In higher-burden settings, MMS is being used to visualize the spatio-temporal spread of antimalarial drug resistance markers, influencing treatment guidelines, and to track the effect of different interventions on parasite genetic diversity as a surrogate measure of transmission intensity.
Please contact Jill Sherman, International Research Facilitator at email@example.com if you are interested in applying to this funding opportunity.