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UCSD partners with Peru in NIH grant to battle malaria, world's number 2 killer

In the middle of the Peruvian Amazon, a battle against malaria the second largest killer of people worldwide will be undertaken by an international team of researchers led by tropical disease specialist Joseph Vinetz, M.D., from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. The team will also study a variety of other tropical infectious diseases endemic to the area.

With $750,000 from the Fogarty Training Grant for Global Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Vinetz and the grant's Peruvian co-director, Eduardo Gotuzzo, director of the Tropical Medicine Institute, Universidad Paruana Cayetano Heredia, will oversee a training program and research projects, both at the program headquarters in Iquitos, Peru, and at UCSD, where selected Peruvian researchers will receive advance medical-research training.

In spite of its virtual elimination in the United States, malaria is still the cause of approximately 1.5 million deaths a year and 300 million infections. Only tuberculosis cases outnumber malaria, and patients with HIV/AIDS rank third.

U.S. travelers to malaria-infested areas are susceptible to the disease and are warned by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to take anti-malarial medication. Also at risk are U.S. soldiers stationed around the world and the U.S. military is working on drugs and vaccines to try to prevent the disease in its overseas soldiers.

In recent years, there's been an alarming increase in malaria cases in both the developed and developing world, partly due to an increasing resistance to chloroquine, the most common anti-malaria drug. The world areas most impacted by the disease are South America, Asia and Africa.

These are all reasons that Vinetz has chosen malaria and another infectious disease called leptospirosis as his areas of specialty. His colleagues are internationally recognized experts who study intestinal parasitic and bacterial infect
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Contact: Sue Pondrom
spondrom@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
10-Jun-2004


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